SHE-CAN Scholar reflects on internship with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia - by Sreileak Hour
Two semesters of college abroad seems like a short period of time compared to the more than 20 years you’ve spent in your home country, but you never know how much you have changed until you return.
That may not come as a complete shock, but there are some noticeable differences. When I arrived back in Cambodia, I was so excited about my internship with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) that I called the staff a week before I started. I asked someone what I should prepare and what the exact schedule is. He said, “It starts at 7:30 a.m. Hey! Don’t worry too much.” I replied, “No, I’m not worried I just want to be clear,” and I thought well maybe I asked too many questions?
My internship is located in Phnom Penh - the capital city of Cambodia. During the school year, I knew that the SECC was recruiting for some internships. Apparently I knew a person who already worked there, so he helped me submit my application for an internship. I got accepted, and my first day was June 5. Currently, I’m still interning with the organization until mid-August.
When my first day came, I arrived at 7:30 a.m. and no one was there except for some security and janitors. Everyone else didn’t arrive until 8:30 a.m. Then I realized, oh yes Cambodians are always late, but I remembered being half an hour late was more common. I realized how much more punctual I've become. The first day of work was exciting, although I made myself ready for any challenges. I was seated at a small table with a plastic chair right by the General Director’s office. I was given some books to read. They were all about the department. Some were English and some were Khmer. I browsed through them since I knew I wasn’t supposed to read them in detail. When I finished, I went to my co-worker and said, “Excuse me! I finished the books. Any tasks I can do or any way I can help?” She said, “You finished them already? Umm ok here are some more books,” and she handed them to me. That was what I did for my entire first day. As time has gone by during my internship, I haven’t had to read more books.
Instead, my work day now always starts with the question, “What should I do today? Do you have anything I can do or is there any way I can help?” I always go around and ask my colleagues one by one until I get some tasks to complete. And once in while, when I insist for some work, they joke by saying “Hi everyone, anything related to English? English expert is here asking for some work!” Despite all their joking, which is a common joke people make in Cambodia teasing about English accents, my tasks include doing research on some security and exchange of other countries, writing official letters, doing some translation from Khmer to English and vice versa, helping prepare and organize some events such as seminars and collecting data. Additionally, I was trained about the security and exchange situation in Cambodia and learned about the organization and administration's work. I've also had opportunities to share my experiences I got from the U.S. including the experience with my mentors, SHE-CAN and school which turns out to be surprisingly helpful for some situations.
While my internship doesn't have specific projects that I'm assigned to, my persistence has given me the chance to work on lots of different tasks. Even without specific projects, I love the work environment and my colleagues. With no pressure, I find myself learning a lot every day. Everyone is very friendly and most of them find me different and funny. I asked for some explanation about why they think this, but they said they don't have any particular reasons. Although my work sounds varied, I find myself learning a lot about the security and exchange sector (especially Cambodia's) because I've been able to throw myself into a little bit of everything. Also, I’ve gotten the chance to apply my knowledge on Economics as well as English while also sharing about my U.S. experiences. I love my internship and my wonderful time in Cambodia!
In addition to my internship, I’ve joined many social events. Before I went to the U.S., I didn’t join such events very much. My excuse was I’m busy with studying or I already knew about the event. Until I spent almost a year in the U.S. and got to participate in many events, I never realized how great it is to be out there at social events to meet amazing people and gain more knowledge about various topics. I started to appreciate social activities and networking more than ever.
Since I’ve been in Cambodia, I’ve joined as many events as I can find on social media as long as my schedule is free. I join events such as workshops, seminars and panel discussions related to women, economics, justice, culture, etc. I find them very useful. I get to share some of my experiences and contribute my knowledge at the events.
Surprisingly, whenever I introduce myself and say that I’m a scholar from SHE-CAN, I’m surprised by how many people have gotten to know about the organization. Some young women recognize me and are so excited to talk to me about SHE-CAN. I’m so glad to witness that, and I’m proud to be a SHE-CAN scholar!
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