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Gaining valuable real-world work experience through volunteering

Student Voices

By Chhay Chansopheaktra

Photo by: MARK ROY

Chhay Chansopheaktra.

With many people competing for the same jobs, institutions in the public and private sectors pay a great deal of attention to the previous work experience of their recruits.  

Volunteering is a great way for young people to develop skills beyond their classroom studies. Because volunteering does not offer any monetary reward, the emphasis is on ensuring you get valuable work experience.

That is why I volunteer in many different fields, to supplement my study and add to my skill set.

Volunteering helps me apply what I have learnt in the classroom to the real world. Over the last year I have sat on the Youth Council of Cambodia, a youth advisory panel  which the United Nations Country Team in Cambodia uses to better understand the challenges facing young Cambodians.

The panel is also a mechanism by which Cambodian youth can be involved in some of their planning processes. There is hope that this will inspire Cambodian youth to work directly with the United Nation Country Team in Cambodia when raising youth concerns.

I am proud to be one of the 10 members sitting on this panel where I can work to include the voice of Cambodian youth in the development of our country.

The opportunity has also helped me learn a great deal about international governance and development.

To develop business and leadership skills, I am currently a vice-president of communications in AIESEC, the world's largest youth leadership development organisation.

I am learning a lot about developing leaders and working with companies, as the organisation runs an international traineeship program that requires my team to deliver results efficiently.

Finally, I also contribute to Outstanding Youth Group of Cambodia, a dynamic youth group who share my desire to provide youth development opportunities through social activities.

Of course, volunteering and studying simultaneously  presents challenges and time conflicts. However, with a sensible approach to time management these challenges can be overcome by prioritising tasks depending on competing deadlines. Sometimes the stress is difficult to deal with, but creating and capitalising on opportunities now is the best way to work towards my future goals.

I have touched on the way that volunteering can provide a great way to excel outside of the classroom, by building one's competencies and qualifications. However, I do not want to neglect an equally important part of the discussion, which is the spirit of volunteerism. This is the personal growth one can gain from involvement volunteering with regards to demonstrating a strong commitment to an ideal, passion and hard work.

These are just some of the attributes that bring people together and make you stand out as an individual. These are the qualities that will shine either in front of an employer or to your peers in the rest of society.

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Chhay Chansopheaktra, 20, is a junior in law at

Royal University of Law and Economics, and sophomore

in international relations at Pannasastra University of

Cambodia, member of UN Youth Advisory Panel in Cambodia,

and vice-president of communications, AIESEC Local Committee at Pannasastra University of Cambodia.

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