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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Youth organisation targets growth in recruitment drive

Youth organisation targets growth in recruitment drive

New arrival in Cambodia is hoping to add 20 new students as part of plan to place 20 members in work experience this year

Photo by: MARK ROY

Pea Vanchhay had to overcome reluctance from his family before he could join AIESEC.

THE local chapter of global youth development organisation AIESEC is aiming to pick up 20 new students through a recruitment drive it has launched in Phnom Penh.

It is also hoping to send 20 students overseas for work experience by the end of the year, according to Sim Pech Chetra, AIESEC comittee vice president for Pannasastra University of Cambodia.

AIESEC is a new initiative in Cambodia; its first team of five students from PUC has only been in operation five months. But Sim Pech Chetra said in that short time his experience as a member has helped develop his confidence and fuelled his ambition to work and travel outside of Cambodia.

"I used to be very shy, but now I feel much more confident that I can achieve my best," he said. "I feel I can see how big the world is, and I want to go out there and challenge myself."

He has recently returned from Vietnam, where he took part in Aiesec's annual global meeting.

Long history

AIESEC, which is pronounced as one word but was originally an acronym for Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, has been in existence since the 1940s, though it had its origins in the 1930s.

It is an international, not-for-profit, apolitical organisation run by students and recent graduates of institutions of higher education.

Currently we are focused on selecting the right people to become members.

It describes itself as "the international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential so as to have a positive impact on society".  

The Netherlands-based network includes 35,000 students in more than 1,100 universities in 108 countries and places around 5,500 student exchanges every year.

It offers its members practical training to support their theory-based university studies, Sim Pech Chetra said. Cambodian members are also offered workshops and classes by business professionals and a formal arena in which to practice their English-language skills.

"AEISEC is working to help students in Cambodia discover their potential in order to build Cambodia as a very strong nation in the future," he said.

"They do this by offering leadership and team-building training on weekends and holidays, and facilitating work exchanges around the world."

Sim Pech Chetra and his team have set up a recruitment table at PUC and peppered the campus with posters and flyers.

He said that sharing his personal experience with students - and mentioning the phrase "leadership training" - have proved the most effective methods of garnering interest. "Everybody wants to be a leader, and there is a realization that extracurricular activities such as AIESEC give you an advantage in the job market," he said.

The PUC team is joined in Cambodia by an AIESEC team at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

Both have been mentored by AIESEC students from the United Kingdom, who arrived last year with the aim of developing a strong presence for the group in Cambodia.

Pea Vanchhay, who has been a vice president on the Pannasastra AIESEC committee since January, said his family was initially reluctant for him to join because they mistakingly feared the organisation might be mixed up in politics.

"AIESEC is a completely non-political organisation, and once I convinced them of that they were happy that I had this opportunity," he said.

"For me I really want to change Cambodian students' perspectives. Instead of just thinking of working in Cambodia, you can have a short period of experience working in other countries in order to gain knowledge to bring back to our country to develop it."

Daniel Henderson, a member of the AIESEC UK team who has relocated to Cambodia, said his team chose the country after a research trip convinced them it would prove successful.

"Currently we are focused on selecting the right people to become members, giving them responsibility and initiating a leadership pipeline to prepare students and recent graduates for leadership and management roles," he said. 



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