What made you choose this internship?
I was apprehensive initially as I did not know anything about Cambodia. However, as I read up more about the country, I realised Cambodia is a friendly country with a rich history.
With investments pouring into the ASEAN region, I believe having some working experience in Cambodia would put me at the frontier of growth in the region. I chose Phillip Bank because it is a strong company with a global network. I also hope that the internship experience could benefit me when I apply to Phillip Capital in Singapore.
How did you prepare yourself for the internship?
I prepared myself by reading up on Cambodia to know more about the country, finding out where to stay and the cost of living. I also researched on the company to find out about its business offerings, organisational structure, and future priorities and prospects.
What are your main responsibilities as an intern?
My responsibilities are quite flexible and is dependent on the department that I am attached to. In Corporate Banking, my main responsibility is to perform credit analysis on our corporate customers who wish to take up corporate and SME loans. I do up credit memorandums and reviews for our credit risk department and senior management for loan approval.
My other responsibilities include liaising with real estate valuation companies and Credit Bureau Cambodia to accurately assess customer’s creditworthiness and ability to honour their debt obligations, and calculation and verification of net income, debt servicing coverage ratio and working capital requirement. I conduct site visits to customer’s business and collateral properties, verifying their legitimacy and performance. I also assist other departments such as e-Channels to provide insights on card sales strategy and providing sales support for our corporate customers.
What do you like about this internship experience?
I like this internship experience as the company was very flexible in terms of allowing me to learn from different departments. Even though my main role was in Corporate Banking, I was given the opportunity to learn from departments such as Digital, Credit Risk, Operations and e-Channels.
My colleagues are also very easy-going, providing me with feedback on my work while I recommend resources or better ways to do a certain task. Occasionally, they will offer to bring me around Phnom Penh too. There are also opportunities to go to provincial areas to conduct site visits.
The senior management team is also friendly and approachable. Despite their busy schedules, I can always reach them via WhatsApp, email or in person. This internship also provided exposure to visit areas outside of Phnom Penh, to provincial areas such as Siam Reap.
What are some challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
The main challenges I faced are due to communication and cultural differences. Although I have no issues getting around daily, I occasionally encounter menus and signs that are in Khmer only. I am grateful to technology that I am able to overcome this language barrier using Google Translate’s camera function.
How have you developed through this internship? What have you learnt and what are your key takeaways?
Through this internship, I have gained skills, habits and strategies that I can apply back in Singapore. Firstly, I have enhanced my communication and interpersonal skills as interning in Cambodia exposed me to people from different cultural backgrounds and beliefs. I started to listen more and it helped me to understand their business and needs better. The internship also strengthened my negotiation skills and confidence when I meet and speak to our local and international clients as my role requires me to promote our services to them.
Secondly, I have become better at reading people’s body language. In Cambodia, people are generally more conservative. They are non-confrontational and do not usually express emotions such as anger and frustration, as doing so leads to a loss of face. Thus, I have learnt to read the more subtle signs in body language, such as a shift in posture, facial expressions, and hand gestures.
Please share your advice with your peers who will be going on internships
For overseas internships, I would suggest “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. We should always be respectful of their culture even if we do not agree. Go to the country with an open mind. Adjust your expectations so that you will have a better experience. Every country is unique, so do not start comparing life overseas with life in Singapore.
For Cambodia, it would be good to make an effort to learn some Khmer, even though quite a number of locals can speak a little English, and some can speak Chinese. This will make your life easier when it comes to ordering food from street vendors.
For internships in general, I recommend discussing with your supervisor early on to set expectations for the internship. It will lead to less miscommunication between both parties, and you will better understand how to fulfil your duties as an intern from his/her perspective.