“If the technology in a country is poor, that country is also likely to be less developed,” says Rachana Nget, a female IT student who returned to Cambodia in May this year after attending an undergrad exchange program in software engineering in the United States of America.
She sees technology one of the most important components in developing a country and a field in which everybody should be involved. “I want to encourage female students not to be afraid of this field. We need to have self-motivation and to keep ourselves moving,” she said to Lift.
It seems female students will need a lot more encouragement to study IT. For her entire year abroad she was the only female student studying software engineering. This didn’t faze the independent minded Rachana, telling Lift she felt the “challenge makes me unique because I can withstand circumstances many people can’t”.
The lack of other woman didn’t come as a total surprise – at high school she realised that not many females studied IT but didn’t mind because she wanted to be unique and enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in IT.
Currently, Rachanna is doing an internship involving programming, software development, system analysis and design at Atech IT Solution Group. In September, she will start her senior year at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP).
During the first two years at RUPP, Rachana only focused on her studies, waiting until her third year to start pursuing other opportunities. “I started my internship and doing some volunteer jobs. [During the third year] I got a chance to be programming tutor in a class called Java programming,” says Rachana adding, “I also did an internship researching Java security with my professors.”
Besides the internship, Rachana has also got involved with a community service project run by the Fulbright and Undergraduate State Alumni Association of Cambodia (FUSAAC), in which she is administration team leader of a seminar called the Majors and Careers Fair.
In addition to gaining experience in the field, she recommends studying abroad to improve English skills because “most of resources and technical words are in English”, she says.
Studying abroad was also challenging, “I had to adapt to the different culture in the USA. I had to socialise in order not to feel homesick,” she admitted. The opportunity to pursue her dream of studying in the USA came about through an exchange program funded by the US embassy.
Rachana said the study of IT in the US was more specific than in Cambodia. “For example, Software Engineering is a subject in Computer Science in Cambodia, while it is a major in America.”
Rachana has used all the knowledge from her two-semester study in the US, as well as her three-year study in Cambodia, and applied it to her internship.
The combination of her self-motivation and her overseas adventure means she is now well on her way to realising her goal of being a professional software developer.