Muyteang’s Journey: Six Months as a Young Innovator Posted on: October 17, 2019 អត្ថបទនេះមានជាភាសា៖ ខ្មែរ By Muyteang TAN Former Young Innovator Development Innovations University graduation is a nerve wrecking moment. You have to map out your life all over again, and it starts to dawn on you that academic achievements might not have as much value to employers as work experience. Work experience is a funny thing; you need to have work experiences to be hired, but also somebody needs to hire you in the first place for you to have the experience. It is a little ironic for me. Earlier this year, I had a degree in pharmacy and had no full-time work experience. So when I saw the announcement from Development Innovations, I knew the program might be for me. The Young Innovator Program is Development Innovations’ 6 month internship for fresh graduates. Young Innovators are recruited to support the project team through practical work and trainings on the use of various ICTs and innovative practices. I came for what was in the job description, but mind you, the Young Innovator Program is more than your typical internship. Here is my story as a young innovator. My Learning Environment I grew up inspired by my dad, who worked for an NGO. I always wanted to know what it is like working for one, how different it is from private companies and what the NGO ecosystem in Cambodia looks like. The YIP provided me just those experiences. I supported project managers to oversee DI’s projects and received other trainings on topics like social media, smart phone videography, blogging, report writing and project management. We were also trained on human-centered design, which is among the most useful training courses I have ever completed. With the DI team and my fellow young innovator, we co-designed solutions on our chosen challenge through active discussion and field research, and completed the online course at the same time. It provided me such an effective and foundational approach for creating solution to address any problem in any sector. It’s more than office work! What come to your mind when you hear the word internship as an NGO staff member? For me it would be sitting in the office in front of the computer typing reports, going to meetings and stuff. That was actually true in part, but as I have mentioned above YIP was not your typical internship. On top of office work, I traveled to the field on monitoring trips, ran booths at key ecosystem events, and joined various tech networking and learning events. Moreover, there were also occasional exposure visits to DI’s partners where I could learn about the organization and the successes and challenges they have encountered. It broadened my knowledge about the NGOs and the tech and startups ecosystem in Cambodia. The experience totally changed my perception that you need to major in technology to work in this field. That is a myth. New technologies can be used in any sector. A Culture of Innovation The best thing you get being a young innovator is the great working environment. When I first came here, I was more than ready to just observe people and work on my assigned tasks. However, I was surprised at the no-hierarchy operation in which everyone could express their opinions freely. Despite me being an intern, my ideas were considered. I could seek help and tell the team my concerns. The team cared about young innovators’ growth and always gave me good advice for my career. This kind of support and environment made me into a more confident and responsible woman. My 6 months as a Young Innovator was totally worthwhile. I gained the skills I have always wanted to learn and was pushed to be innovative and critical. The ability to communicate well, work as a team, and manage projects will be useful for the next stage in my life. Next month, I will join a youth exchange program, SSEAYP, where I have to design social projects, and work with young people from ASEAN and Japan who come from diverse backgrounds and cultural contexts. And the skills I got from Young Innovator Program contribute in preparing me for joining this exchange program. I have confirmed one thing after the young innovator program. Young people should dare to choose the unpopular path if it is your calling. Because at the end of the day, only you know what is the best yourself.