An Empowering Role Model for Women in Cambodia’s Agricultural Engineering Sector

Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion
A Story from the ‘InGuider’ Model- Cambodia

From a mechanic-intern to a full-time staff, Phoun Sokheng, a 23-year-old speaks about her experience of undergoing an internship following the InGuider model, which has significantly shaped her career prospect and expanded her life skills.

InGuider is an internship programme co-designed by the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering, of the Royal University of Agriculture and the MIGIP project implemented by Swisscontact. 

Her journey with a private company started in 2019, when she, as a student of Faculty of Agricultural Engineering from Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), learnt about the Internship opportunity.

Miss. Phoun Sokheng

‘The school posted the information on the announcement board for students who would like to advance their learnt skills and practice them. Back then, I applied for technological animation to improve my animation drawing skills. But as I came to my current workplace, I found the difference between what I had learnt at school and what people were doing here. I did not get to learn AutoCAD as expected at first but as time went on, I found it interesting to see people setting up measurement units, figuring out equipment scales and applying a wide range of tools for equipment magnitude. I believe understanding these scales would later compliment my passion to master AutoCAD drawing.’ 

InGuider is true to its expectation in familiarising students with on-the-field agricultural work. 

Sokheng is operating the lathe as part of her assistance routine in her free time. 

‘I had previously been afraid of the big machines but as I started my internship here, I am more accustomed to them, became less frightened and better understand a variety of machines such as lathe, drilling and trimming machines. I got to practice assembling machine accessories and understand a wide range of machines’ spare parts in my free time outside the office’

As a female student, Sokheng serves as a good model in empowering women’s role into Cambodia’s agricultural engineering sector. 

‘I was and have been the only woman here and I was afraid at first because there were all men. But now things are just normal for me. I can get along with everyone and know better how to manage heavy equipment’. 

Sokheng is showing a spare part of agricultural machine.

Aside from the technical skills through InGuider, Sokheng also gained extra skills in communication and marketing strategy during Swisscontact’s trainings as part of her internship preparation. The trainings equipped her with necessary tools to help the company during the COVID-19 crisis.

Sokheng is in the office, handling the company’s communication with customers 

‘In the office, I oversee the company’s Facebook page, post things and handle chats with customers. Oftentimes, I serve as an in-between communicator in channeling the products information and price from my employer to customers and vice versa. Prior to that, I knew little on how to manage a Facebook page but through the Swisscontact-sponsored trainings, I could utilise Facebook more and better.’ Through the orientation trainings, students learnt a lot things such as managing Facebook page, Communication, writing reports and more.’

As a beneficiary of InGuider, Sokheng encourages her juniors and other like-minded peers to grab the opportunity, be disciplined and be patient if they want to get into the agricultural engineering career.

‘Eventually, I would like to share some of my experiences to my fellow juniors that if you are into agricultural engineering skills, you will need to pay close attention to it, be patient, be disciplined with the company’s code of conducts and other procedures. These are things that make you ready for a good job in the future’.

Sokheng started as a mechanical intern at the workshop. Due to her contribution and efforts, she was later recruited by the company to be a full-time staff. In her free time from the office, Sokheng always assists other mechanics in arranging and assembling agricultural machines’ spare parts.

InGuider is co-designed by the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering, Royal University of Agriculture and Swisscontact. InGuider prepares the faculties of universities to run a structured internship programme and connect the universities to private sector companies so that there are enough internship opportunities for the students and the companies can receive qualified human resources to undertake the work. 

The Mekong Inclusive Growth and Innovation Programme (MIGIP) is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Happel Foundation and the Kuoni and Hugentobler Foundation.