A tenacious fighter who is now standing tall at UNDP
As a Policy Communication and Engagement Specialist at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Aim, Karnklon Raktham, graduated from the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, Thammasat University. She was part of B.J.M. #2 or JC #50. Studying in the international program was different from the Thai program in the sense that students were not divided into majors. BJM students studied Mass Communication all around using English as a main medium of instruction. Aim is proud to say that studying in B.J.M. has helped her tremendously with her career up until the present where she now works as a Policy Communication and Engagement Specialist at UNDP.
Before she was recruited by this international organization, Aim had fought with everything she’d got in order to create opportunities for herself.
“When I was a freshman, just a 17-18 year-old, I didn’t plan far ahead. I just knew that I loved writing and consuming news when I was in high school. So, choosing BJM was the right choice because it fitted my hobbies and interests and I also liked learning languages. During my third year, I got to participate in many activities both in and outside of the University. I started to understand myself more. I did an internship with Channel 3 working in different areas from news, political news desk, Khao 3 Miti. I remember working on news pieces with seniors who had a lot of experiences, applying theories to practical cases. The internship helped me realize what I liked and disliked. It was really helpful for when I applied for jobs.”
When I was a junior, I began to like following political news. In my final year, semester 2, I had 2-3 subjects left to complete where I needed to do Thesis Spirit Prospect. So, I had some time to build up my experience by participating in an internship competition for the first time, and I was 1 of the 8 successful candidates to intern as a team junior A day Magazine. That was once-a-year opportunity for students who were interested in content writer jobs to gather and create magazines firsthand for a period of 3 months. Then I competed again in True Visions – BBC-World News. This time was also a success. I got to join a course on how to be a journalist at BBC London for 3 weeks. Studying in BJM, we had the opportunities to write news articles, analyze situations. Aside from practicing the languages, we needed to learn how to think critically, how to arrange our thoughts, how to perceive the world and society in a logical fashion. Even though it was so damn hard, I was able to acquire so much knowledge.”
After the internship, Aim had a chance to work in an English news program at Thai PBS. That was when a new door was opened for her. Aim did not fail to enter Young Blood competition organized by Channel 3. She was selected to intern in all kinds of news desks to prepare before she would be assigned to a position that would fit her. Aim then became an international news reporter for Morning World and Rueng Lao Chao Nee; ones of the highest-rating news programs at that time.
After working at Channel 3 for 4 years, Aim stepped out of her comfort zone to gain more experiences. She decided to compete again for Chevening Scholarship funded by the UK government. Although she knew it was highly competitive, the fighter blood in her never gave up. It was an extremely hard decision to make because working at Channel 3 was such a good opportunity at the moment. However, earning a master’s degree in the UK had been her resolution for a long time since her 3-month internship at BBC London. “Because I live consuming a lot of international news, I wanted to know more about International Relations as I have always been a visionary person.”
Again, Aim succeeded. She received the scholarship to pursue a Master in International Relations degree at SOAS – University of London. Aim graduated in 1 year. When she returned to Thailand, Aim noticed that the media had changed; digital and online platforms had started to play a larger role. Therefore, Aim decided to challenge herself once again and utilized her skills in a new position as an international news editor at The Momentum/The Standard, one of the first online media platforms. “When the people who used to work in TV turned online, it feels very different. The online world is huge like the ocean. I knew if I stayed in the same place, if I were to stuck with TV, I wouldn’t survive. So, I decided to update myself and leave my comfort zone by switching to online media. It’s a jump into the ocean again. It’s learning by doing. You need to swim as hard as you can. Trial and error and repeat. Create your own learning process.”
Nevertheless, during her time studying in the UK, Aim found that it was unnecessary to wear the same hat forever. She could wear different hats; working different jobs and simultaneously expressing her passion in academia. Aim was open to new opportunities to break free from her comfort zone again. She became a guest lecturer in BJM and taught courses in Southeast Asia Studies at Pridi Banomyong International College. “But then I questioned myself: should I stop here?” Aim began to feel unsettled, afraid she would grow weak. She thought being a lecturer at 28 did not sit well with her. She still wanted to explore the world, so Aim stopped teaching after 1 year and returned to work in the media industry she knew and loved.
Aim returned as a producer and reporter for World News Documentary by Karuna Buakamsri (PPTV). She got to travel to different countries to write documentary news. It was an opportunity to work on field and on heavy topics such as organ trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, etc. She went overseas a lot to work so she needed to keep her problem-solving skills on point. Even though she prepared herself well, something would always go wrong, and she must fix it on the spot. During those 2 and a half years of work, Aim got to learn and improve her skills tremendously and gain firsthand experiences, especially in emotional self-control!!!
Return to the competition
It was when UN called for Fellowship applications to select only 15 journalists from more than 800 around the world to participate in the 3-week-long United Nations General Assembly held at the headquarters in New York. The event opened a new door and current door for Aim because it broadened her skills and got her recruited to work at UNDP – UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME as a Policy Communication and Engagement Specialist. The position required advanced communication skills. She must use her experiences in Mass Communication at work to simplify communication of complex ideas and bring about something valuable to the society continuously. Now, Aim has been working at UNDP for more than 2 years. “In the 10 years I’ve been working, some might think I’m just a lucky person who has had so many opportunities handed to me. But they don’t know that I’d been denied 10 times, 100 times before. I can’t say I’m good. But I can say that I am very determined and hard working. I find and create my own opportunities all the time. Tears were shed and courage was lost before something was gained. Nothing is easy. Every test enhances your immunity.”
Let’s give a round of applause for the effort and strong determination of Aim, Karnklon Raktham our amazing alumna of B.J.M., Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is truly a role model for the juniors.
Credit to: สมาคมวารสารศาสตร์ ธรรมศาสตร์ (Journalism Alumni Association)