Tips and Tricks from Cambodia

January 23, 2013

If you happen to work for a private company in Cambodia, they only bother with your employment period and step which means your salary will be raised when you stay at a company longer. They never count the never ending inflation; and you need to bear in mind that as a Least Developed Country, inflation in Cambodia will never stop. The more growth we want, the more inflation we have. It’s so natural.
However, for United Nations staff, their salaries will be raised based on Steps and Inflation. They calculate carefully the inflation rate of each year and inform their staff about the salary the following year.

When you reach year 4, it’s time to think about gathering experiences or else you are going to end up graduating without a thing to write about in your Curriculum Vitae. You probably think you really have no experience as no workplace has ever given you a credit for what you have done? You are wrong with that! You may include blogging, tutoring English to your younger sister. Your experiences do not have to be at a company. It can be anywhere.
Anyway, that is not what I want to mention today. I would like to grab your attention to think a bit about doing an Internship. Doing an internship could be a great option for fresh graduate or about-to-graduate person. However, you ought to choose where you should do your internship. You are encouraged to apply and try hard for internship opportunity at UNDP, UNV, DFDL, Care International, World Vision – ANYWHERE well-known.
It is a great stepping stone if you could not apply for any place with little salary. You know what? I strongly suggest you start with such UN like UNDP, because when you go to somewhere else, they acknowledge the experience and your ability. Your salary may rise up even faster than those who find a job with 200$ salary. However, after your graduation, you may consider hunting for a paid job and an internship. Do not ruin any bridge.
Many NGOs, International NGOs, and UN Agencies – all look for staff having experience in an international organization and project cycle management; and those staff never get less than a thousand USD. If you have a chance to do an internship with UNDP, why not take the chance?
You may refer to my early post on Zig-Zag Educational Background and Experiences as if you don’t want to experience the same things that I did. However, I found my way now. I am planning to grow in the field as many other former trainer at ILO could earn more than 3000 USD per month.
However, some internships could be a scam. They simply want to eat up your energy and yet an internship certificate from them mean nothing. If you see an announcement from a company recruiting Sales Intern, hell no. Do not apply. What they will get is a lot of money, and you are going spend your sweat for that single certificate?
Consider these tips.

When I was a kid, my English teacher started with teaching Phonetic Symbols, I did not really notice or even knew the reason why I had to study such things; plus it was hard for an eight year old kid to start with such things.
Phonetic Symbol - SoundPhonetic Symbol - Alphabet
So, I could not remember them well and ended up noting the pronunciation of English word in Khmer. It worked! However, I had to struggle remembering Khmer pronunciation; and the sound was not as accurate as a native speaker and might result in being unable to deliver the meaning to our partner.
I did learn about the Sh Ch part. It was pretty easy to produce such sound, but I did not learn about that there are two types of sound of EA, AU, OW, etc. You know what I’m saying? Probably not! :D
Because shamefully, I have just learned more of Phonics when I first started my first job as an English teacher of a Young Learner Program at New World Institute. I never thought that knowing Phonics could be that wonderful.
I am not going to tell you all that in details. However, I could illustrate some which will brighten your eyes a bit.
Let say, BOW. That is the hard sound of OW, while COW, TOWEL, we use the soft sound of OW. See the difference? Or it could be seen through THREAT and EAT. Could you notice the difference between the soft sound and the hard one?
More examples, people might not notice that with a magic E, words could be pronounced interestingly as it will follow the original sound of the vowel. You will know what I mean after reading below.
For example, letter A. The sound is supposed to be A just like the letter, however, it is not. You need to add an E to get the original sound of the A.
If not, the sound will become AE. For example, CAT. If you add an E, the sound will be an original sound like KATE. So much A that you could hear.
It also applies to other vowels as well; for example, COPE, KITE, PETE, CUBE. As you can see, without an E, the sound of this word would not be so original. You can find all of these information in Phonics book.
In summary, it is important for us to learn the concept so that we could pronounce each word correctly. You may find that Phonics book at New World Institute and do some self-learning, or probably just download some from the internet.

January 22, 2013

Public Goods refer to the goods provided by a government to its people and it is impossible to exclude anyone from using public goods while another one is using it; and it is non-rivalry too. From this meaning, if you are at a park playing with your kids, I can go enjoy playing at the park with my family at the same time too. More examples could be street, street light, and fresh air, etc. 

It is a complete opposite to Private Goods because private goods is owned by an individual. No one has no right on such property.

However, many people in Phnom Penh enjoy using public goods without having to care about others. As we all know as a result of Khmer Rouge Regime, with trauma people tend to be more self-centered, but what's even worse, it's the easy money, the nepotism, and the belief that "money talks people do" that make people even more self-centered now a day. 

Problems with Public Goods:

- People might be careless that it is public goods

In some cases, people are not aware that one is using public goods and block others from using it. For example, planting trees on a sidewalk right outside of the front yard which may block pedestrians from walking. Pedestrians most of the time need to walk on the street which again invade motorist's and might result in injury and might be cursed from the motorists. 

- Selfishness 

Some might be aware that it is a sidewalk but since it is a good location for business, the owner of a house start invading public goods by establishing stall in the front yard leaving very little space for people to walk. Some might park their car in the front yard too. 

- Very little action has been made.
- Motorist has become even more aggressive and furious when it comes to using the street in rush hour.
- Go in whatever one can without caring the others - simply squeeze in for bikers.

Now I wonder if we care what it means by Public Goods and how we should live together as a community. It is time to know how to live together as a community. It is time to show that you know what is right what is wrong. When our parents do not care about us, will we start caring about ourselves!? I extremely hate such administration.

January 5, 2013

Let me tell you a little bit about my educational background and my jumbled experiences. I hold two bachelor degrees one of which is Bachelor of Education in English (Teaching English!) and another is Laws. Since my graduation in 2009, my first job was to teach English as a part-time job at New World Institute and 9 months later, I moved to Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) which was part time as well. Just a month later, my friend Chenda introduced me to her boss (boss of HML Law Firm) to work as a translator. I worked there as another part time job. Within a few months, I was delivered different tasks which were more than translating documents and titled Legal Assistant. There were some serious problems with the boss, I resigned and only worked at ITC as a part time teacher. Later, I found an interesting master degree which is a joint cooperation between Royal University of Law and Economics and  École Nationale d'Administration in France. Thus, I had a plan which was to quit teaching when that master is about to end and look for another job in an international NGO. 

Time passed, just a month before ending my master, I decided to resign from ITC as it was at the right time before signing another annual contract. I thought it was better to resign from ITC after a contract ends rather than resigning while on a contract; it was all wrong. I did save my reputation as I did not resign during contract. However, I could not save myself financially as I have not found a new job - which mean from having two jobs at the same time to having no job. Silly me. 

Since the time I resigned from ITC in September 2012, it has been more than 3 months that I have stayed unemployed. I have been applying to different types of companies. There were different cases, actually. Some after seeing my CV, they may think it is not necessary to employ a person with a master for such a small position in their company. For example, at CSL & Associates, I applied for a position of Legal Assistant. I was called for test and stuff. After finishing the writing test and the interview, I already felt that it was me, because there were only two candidates - me and a girl. She was a fresh graduate with an internship experience while I used to work on such translation task for a year. The writing test was to translate Civil Code, and it was a part of my job at HML Law Firm; thus, I could assume that was done without or with very little mistake. I do not mean that I look down on the girl, I only meant I was better in term of experience and educational background; and even more during the interview, I also could answer their questions very well. The talk was interesting. Still, they did not recruit me. 

Base on that, I could assume that employer needs an employees with experience, but not necessarily have a higher education (Master or Ph.D) since they possibly think that these kind of employees will not stay at the small position for long term which will affect the company for a long run.

That is one problem, here is another. I also applied for other positions at International NGOs and International Companies, though I do not have the experience regarding the tasks listed in the advertisement. Again, some went ignorant and some called but I could not do the writing task well since I have never done that before. As a result, I failed again and again and found myself quite useless - even worse than a guy speaking broken English. He could find a job. 

In short, the problems are 1. Resigning before having found another job 2. Do not have experience for other position rather than teaching 3. Is not accepted to work for lower position.

Lesson Learned

So, here as it is already late for me to make any changes beside keep on looking for a job, I would like to give some recommendations to the youngster. 

1. Find a field that you think you could do. Go straight to it. Do not ignore any single scores from quiz or any test. They are all important for your first job. Since you do not have experience, so why not apply with a transcript? Show off your score! 

2. After you finish your degree, do not go straight for ANY jobs. Think a bit because it will affect your future career. How you start professional life is important. You should not follow my path. For example, I started my first job as an English teacher when I did not actually want it. I did it, I made some money. So what? I still have today - having difficulty looking for a job in international NGO. 

If possible, you may seek for an internship at international NGO like at UNDP, World Vision, etc, because they will place you in the right field. 

Money is not your goal, bear in mind. It is the experience which will help you find a well paid job in the future. 

3. Do not rush for a master degree. If possible, find a job, work on it, if you do not like it, change it. Until you find a suitable job with your bachelor degree since then you may consider pursuing a master which will enable you to know better in that field. Again, do not jumble like me. My experience and my educational background is so zig-zagging (I am still looking for single away out, you see?)  You have to know that a Master degree is for a professional to have more knowledge or to be promoted for a higher position in the field he is working on. 

January 1, 2013

Before you reach this stage, I expect that you have already known how to write a good CV and a Cover Letter. If you still don't, you may contact me directly, I would be more than happy to help.

Anyway, let's start with this. Assume that your CV and Cover Letter are ready; and the example that I demonstrate below are from the the job application that I have recently applied to World Vision Cambodia.

The model could be different from organisation to organisation. Thus, do not wholly depend on my way to apply for a job. It could be used for new job seekers and also to give some ideas that you might have never heard of. I would welcome all of the suggestions in the comment box below. 

Here is my CV, I clipped it together

World Vision Cambodia requires applicants to use their official application form attached with applicant's CV and Cover Letter. It is important for us to know that International NGOs normally require us to write another application form, while the other companies only require CV and Cover Letter. 

Here are the certificates attached to the CV and Cover Letter; however, I pinned them together which include Certificates, Volunteer Certificates, Recommendation Letter, and my Identity Card.

As I said earlier, I pin the certificates together, and I will also pin the CV, Cover Letter, and World Vision's Application Form as well. All in all, there are two sets (One set of Certificates, and another set composed of CV, Cover Letter, and WV Application)

Here you could see two sets and it is important to notice how we place it in the carbon envelope. Remember that this is the side that you need to insert your sets. Set CV first, and Set certificates second. Also, the face must face as shown in the picture below.

Now you already placed your CV and Cover Letter inside the envelope. It's time to write the Cover for the Envelope. You need to include your Address, and the Company's address. Cut it with knife as you may not get it trimmed correctly with scissors.

 After you get the cover, glue it on the envelope, and there you are ready to apply for a job!

It is important to follow such ways before you apply for a job in hard copy. However, these days it's getting better as companies and NGOs accept soft copy as we could simply send via email.

Some companies require us to send CV, Cover Letter, and the Certificates via email. Thus, you should scan your certificates and store it in your computer.

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