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Young man goes from taking tourist snapshots to being famous blogger

Lao Sopheak, 26, is the founder and manager of SOMBOK IT, a Khmer-language blog focusing on technology advice. It is growing increasingly famous among Cambodian internet users because of its regular updates and useful information.

Besides founding and running SOMBOK IT, this young man also has another position: senior IT officer for web development and design at HCC Group Co, Ltd. With such achievements at such a young age, Sopheak is a great example for Cambodia’s growing technology sector, and he has a lot of valuable experience to share.

Looking back at when he was 16 and 17, Sopheak recalls the camera that hung around his neck as he took pictures for tourists in front of the Royal Palace. He did it just to earn a little money, and sometimes he only made enough to afford breakfast.

After sticking with the job, but, Sopheak was eventually able to save enough money to buy a motorbike.

Two years in photography might sound irrelevant to the skills he needs today, but that first job taught him something very important: he loves working. “If I was not a photographer at that time, I wouldn’t be who I am now,” Sopheak says.

Because of his passion for hard work, Sopheak continued working even when he started his freshman year in computer science at Norton University. He took a position in sales and marketing for a computer shop which mainly deals with maintenance and websites. This was when Sopheak fell in love with making websites. “After working for a few months, I became curious about how websites are created,” Sopheak says. “I saw people could make beautiful websites, and I wanted to do that too.”

During his years at university, Sopheak gained experience in various IT fields, such as a web and multimedia designer for Nokor Trading, a web development instructor at CM Training Center and a web designer for HCC Co, Ltd during his fourth year.

This experience in the real world led to Sopheak’s decision to choose website design as his study focus for his final year at university. “Before I had been focused on programming, but in my fourth year when I had to pick a thesis topic I decided to choose web development. At that time I had already started to work in website development for HCC.”

The skills and knowledge gained from studying and working at the same time gave Sopheak the ability to be responsible for every duty related to web development and design. “I write, make logos and banners, and also do photography work. I have to design it all and post it on the websites,” he says, elaborating on his responsibilities for the company.

Realising that Khmer-language content on the internet is very limited, especially about technology, Sopheak decided to create the SOMBOK IT blog in 2011. Through the blog, Sopheak provides all the technology information he can to help Cambodian people who have a computer or phone problem. “I realized that if I didn’t make this kind of website, and if the previous and next generations also didn’t, then Cambodians wouldn’t have it,” says Sopheak.

“My goal is to share more technology advice in Khmer for Cambodians.”

Sopheak’s commitment to the field has made him a well-known internet personality. “When people suggest that I write about something on my blog, I write it immediately,” says Sopheak.

Now, on an average day, SOMBOK IT gets 2,000 different visitors with 5,000 page views. Sopheak’s next plan is to create a website for Khmer grammar. Explaining why he came up with the idea, he says, “I see that some people still make mistakes when writing Khmer words on the internet, and sometimes people write the wrong words more often than the correct ones.”

Lao Sopheak recommends those who are interested in technology – especially IT students – focus on learning about what interests them the most. “Find your skill when you are in university and then research more on that skill.” Sopheak also recommends some programs you are sure to need such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Flash, HTML 5 and Adobe Dreamweaver.



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