Advancing from Intern to Young ICT Specialist

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Sina
Sina Pha at work in Phnom Penh with NGO One World UK. [Photo Credit: Mr. Sina Pha]
Like tens of thousands of Cambodian undergraduates, Mr. Sina Pha was focused on finding a good job and trying to get a scholarship abroad for a master’s degree after his graduation from university in 2010. But after joining the Young Professionals program at Development Innovations, an internship program focused on connecting young tech professionals to the civil society sector to spur innovation in their organizations, his life goals changed and he began working harder to pursue a different career.

Sina graduated with a dual degree in English and Information Technology in 2010, and began working for a telecom company as a Sales Support Intern, and later for a youth organization as their Advocacy and Youth Network Officer. In 2014, Sina was looking for another job after his project at the youth organization ended, so he took a chance on the pilot Development Innovations program. He said, “I was surprised to learn the new way of working, especially the 5D process [a design thinking process with five stages: Define, Discover, Design, Develop, and Deploy]. The program exposed me more to a broader environment, which has shown me better ideas about working, initiating ICT4D business ideas and working as a team to execute projects and startups,” Sina explained, saying, “I realized that I was able to do more than just work for others with the expectation of getting a higher salary, and after the program, I started my own business.”

As access to new technologies expands rapidly in Cambodia, civil society organizations (CSOs) are increasingly recognizing the importance of engaging with information and communication technology (ICT) tools within their programs. Despite the desire to incorporate tech into their programming, some CSOs lack the capital and human resources needed to mount successful ICT-enabled activities. Development Innovations piloted their internship program with 14 young professionals (YPs), who were chosen for the program based on their information technology (IT) and communications skills. After a one-month intensive training in ICT, strategic social media, and design thinking, each YP was embedded within a partner CSO for eight months. The YPs carried out tasks including social media promotion, assisting in implementing ICT-enabled projects, website coding, and content development for blogs. Six months after the end of the program, 10 YPs were hired by CSOs as permanent staff and consultants, two YPs received scholarships for ICT graduate school programs in Europe, one YP started his own tech startup company after winning a national business competition, and one YP is currently looking for work in the ICT sector.

Sina was embedded at One World UK, an NGO working on sexual and reproductive health in Cambodia. Immediately after the internship, he was offered a position as a social media and communications consultant where he helps raise awareness about best practices in sexual and reproductive health both online and offline. Today, Sina, now 30 years old, works at the NGO and also runs a startup called IntelNovate with a few other YPs, which provides innovative, user-focused ICT services. Ultimately, Sina is interested in continuing to deliver for clients and learn more, saying, “I want to prove that human ability is limitless − with purpose, intention and effort.”

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