I don’t typically open up on the interwebs, but I’m going to be bold and share. I’ve been having an internal battle since arriving in Cambodia. One reason I chose to move here was to help Cambodia and its people evolve. In my two trips prior to moving here, I’d been captivated by their culture… they’d been through the Khmer Rouge reign (1975-9) when 2 million Cambodians were killed – most of the educated and almost 1/4 the country’s population. The country is still recuperating/rebuilding from this travesty, yet are so warm, giving, genuine and friendly. I felt a calling to give back and help their future.
Fortunately in January 2017, I was able to give back by volunteer teaching English to a wonderful school in Siem Reap. Now, living here, I would love to continue to volunteer teach in a rural village, but I need a source of income.
I knew salaries were waaaaaay less than in the US, and I’d accepted that. But I found some NGO jobs of interest paid minuscule amounts (much lower than I anticipated), only hired Khmers or I applied and didn’t hear back. I thought about teaching English, but learned that at the International schools here, the kids already spoke English, so I lost interest. And the rural village schools were far away and did not offer much salary.
Starting to feel nervous about employment options, I decided to see if there were jobs in my profession, digital marketing. There were! I applied to a marketing agency and after two interviews, was offered a position. As I contemplated the offer, I continued to struggle… was I just taking it because it was what I knew and I was eager to make money? Would I not be staying true to why I moved here?
Then it hit me! The way I can contribute to Cambodia, its people and its future, is by working in the digital marketing field, introducing new skills, opening up new revenue streams for their businesses and helping evolve a discipline that’s in its infancy and eager for people with my experience to help it grow.
In discussions with additional marketing agencies and other business professionals, I learned that my digital marketing skills are highly sought after here. With approximately 50% of the 15MM population under 25, and with the rise in social media usage in this mobile-first economy, there is a new opportunity to connect with Cambodians. And businesses need help navigating this!
I wasn’t taking the easy way out. I was just helping in a different way than I originally imagined. It seems so obvious to me now, but for the past few weeks, I’ve been blind to this thought.
I am excited now. Excited because I know I can make an impact and excited to revisit my passion for digital marketing, which I lost over the last year. I can share this passion with an eager and young audience, develop digital marketing professionals and help the foundation for this new marketing practice in Cambodia.
No pressure, right?! 😉