The ALEX Blog
This week I had the opportunity of interviewing UH student Alejandro Patiño. Alejandro
is in his senior year, majoring in Business management. He is a transfer student from Mount
San Antonio College in Walnut California and has been attending UH Hilo for about two years
now. Alejandro loves sports, is an avid soccer player, and received a scholarship to UH Hilo for
While attending UH Hilo, Alejandro has taken the opportunity of participating in the on
hands work experience available on campus. His first one on Big Island was with none other
than the Applied Learning Experience program, ALEX. He worked getting community based
media coverage of UH Hilo, and incorporating it with applied learning experiences. He
partnered up with the Athletic Department to cover their stories. In particular, Dr. Seuss’ Read
Across America day which happens every year on March 2nd. UH Hilo student athletes would
dress up in Dr. Seuss attire, and read to elementary school students. He
contacted multiple media outlets to cover the story on their program. KHON and KITV reached back and aired a
short video of the UH Hilo athletes reading to the children. He also created public service
announcements promoting ALEX’s job development website CollegeCentral.com with the help
of Pacific Media Group (PMG). It was through working with ALEX, that Alejandro found an open
position with Hiplan.
Hiplan is a business plan competition. If you’ve ever seen the show Shark tank, this is basically Hawaii’s own version. Local entrepreneurs try their chance at making dreams a
reality by presenting ideas to local and successful business people. At stake is a total of
$25,000 in seed money from Kelly Moran and Jim Wyban. The competition is open to any
individual or group (for-profit or nonprofit) whose business plan is based on Big Island. Part
of Alejandro’s job was to find people with competitive business plans for the competition. He
acquired skills such as marketing, networking, advertisement, promoting, and even created
a PSA for with the help of Rod Pacheco from Pacific Media Group. During a radio interview
for Kelly Moran and Jim Wyban at Pacific Media Group, Alejandro got to meet the Chief
Operating Officer (COO), of PMG Jack Dugan. With his contact information, a few months
later Alejandro expressed his interest in selling advertisements. Luckily Mr. Dugan
remembered him and asked him to meet with him during the week he was going to be in
Hilo, as his main office is in Maui.
During his interview, Alejandro didn’t know what to expect because he wasn’t
applying for an actual position, it was more of a “talk story” situation. Dugan made it clear
that there was no position available at the moment, but he was interested in getting to know
Alejandro and his goals/interests. Alejandro told Dugan that he had a passion for sports and
especially soccer, and he wanted to get his foot in the door for the business aspect of
sports. He expressed that selling advertisements for a professional soccer team would be
his dream job. Dugan suggested there might be a position available under ESPN radio Big
Island. He told Alejandro to keep in contact. Until then, all he could do was wait.
In the meanwhile, Alejandro had been in contact since last semester with a web-
based business selling ad spaces to businesses. A few weeks after his PMG interview, the
other business contacted him with an offer to start working for them. It was at this time when
Alejandro decided to contact Dugan to further express his interest with PMG and working
with ESPN radio. A few days later, Dugan contacted Alejandro to tell him that he could open
a position as a salesman for ESPN radio. With no hesitation, Alejandro accepted Dugan’s
It has been a week since Alejandro started at PMG. He says “Like every new task,
you have to work hard and be ready to listen and learn.” He likes to see this new job as an
opportunity to prove to PMG that opening this position for him was no mistake. His advice to
other students looking to gain experience in their field is to take internships to gain
experience and find connections, and most importantly follow your passion. “Getting
experience is one of the most important things a student can do to secure a job. There are
plenty of good workers out there, but you need to be a game changer to make a difference.”
Alejandro would like to thank the Athletic Department for bringing him to UH Hilo to
play soccer, and most importantly Patrick Guillen; a good friend and mentor. Guillen’s wise
words motivated Alejandro to pursue the marketing side of sports. He would also like to thank
the College of Business and Economics Department for having extremely qualified professors to
learn from. In particular, Emmeline de Pillis, Drew Martin, Kelly Burke, Tam Vu, and Thomas
Dewitt. He says “Small details can impact someone’s life without them noticing. Sometimes it
only takes a few words to inspire you to try harder, and that is priceless.”
Interview by Ashley Romero
Avion Plummer is ALEX’s Mentorship Program coordinator. An avid traveler, Avio has studied in three countries to date, and will be spending more time abroad in 2017. Of his work at ALEX, Avion states, “I’m so happy to spread awareness of our mentorship program and hope to create new relationships between students and mentors.”
The purpose of this survey is to gain an understanding of your expectations when participating
in an internship or co-op program. The results of the survey will be shared with tens of
thousands of employers throughout the country to help improve internship and co-op
programs and recruiting practices. Whether you have completed an internship / co-op or not,
you are invited to participate.
The Study will close on December 16 th .
Ashley Romero, ALEX’s Internship Champion, moved from Oʻahu and moved to the Big Island on January 7th this year. She loves the beach, nature, animals, and dancing. Ashley works at the USDA and hopes to one day become a Conservation and Wildlife Biologist. She wants to study mammals across the United States and other countries, and then come back to Hawaiʻi and work with birds.
Emmeline de Pillis completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego, where she majored in mathematics and computer science, minored in writing, and earned extra money by painting custom murals. She worked in marketing for Hewlett-Packard’s San Diego Division before returning to earn her Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. She is a professor of management in the College of Business and Economics and the director of the Office of Applied Learning Experiences (ALEX). She once won $7,000 on a game show thanks to her knowledge of Perry Mason.
The Office of Applied Learning Experiences (ALEX) is interested in hearing your side of the story! If you are a student or alumni of UH Hilo involved in any internships, volunteer work, projects, or career-related activities relevant to your field of interested, we want to know! Not sure if your story qualifies? Send an email to Terri Pinyerd with the subject line “ALEX Story” for a chance to be featured on our blog and across our social networks. It’s a great opportunity to network and get your name out there.
I found in my time at college, that being a Wildlife and Conservation Biologist was the best way I could think of integrating my interest in animals, nature, and all of their interactions in between into a lifelong career. While I lived in Oahu I was working towards becoming a Vet Tech and soon decided that I wanted to do something on a more global scale. It was long before I moved to Big island in January of 2016 where I looked into the B.S. in Biology Ecology, Evolution and Conservation track at UH Hilo. Eventually life lead me to come here and pursue that dream.
I knew that I would need a job while living here, as it was my first time living without my mother and surviving entirely on my own means. First I looked through craigslist for jobs as a waitress, Target, and other small time jobs to do just so I could pay rent and afford food. I had a school job at my Community College in Oahu and couldn’t think of a better place to work than your own school, so the next place I looked, was on the college student employment website sece.its.hawaii.edu. While searching through jobs, a major one that caught my eye was “Research Assistant”. I knew that if any job could help me in my dream of becoming a Biologist, this would be the one. My boss at my job in Oahu was extremely supportive of me and helped me spruce up my cover letter and resume to show any experience and skills that I had which would possibly be of use in a Lab setting. Prior to this, I had no prior experience working in a scientific laboratory, but we still managed to find applicable skills.
Almost a month after sending my resume and cover letter, I received an email asking me to come in for an interview. Ecstatic, I happily agreed. I got off my plane at about 7pm on January 7th 2016. The next day I picked up my car from the port and drove straight to my interview at the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC). Walking into my interview was a bit nerve wrecking as I approached a long table with five scientists sitting around it. As each one of them introduced themselves and explained what their jobs were, I couldn’t help but feel so inferior as this 21-year-old student sitting before them with no real experience. This feeling went away soon after. I discovered quickly that all of these people were incredibly nice and easygoing. They all laughed and joked together as the interview was conducted, making me feel at ease after just a couple minutes. After the interview was over, they told me that I pretty much got the job and after a bit of paperwork went through their system I could start working.
I started working a couple weeks later. I was assigned to work with the Nematologist (Study of a type of roundworm) and her technician. She gave me a tour around the lab and introduced me to the faces behind the action. In my first weeks I began helping with some of the projects they had underway already, and very quickly got comfortable using a microscope. I was showed how to do PCR (a method to amplify a part of DNA), and got familiar with a couple other lab techniques and resources that I would need to conduct my experiments. I got acquainted with other researchers and fellow research assistants as well.
During my time at PBARC I’ve gotten to know not only my own research, but a bit of the other projects going on in the lab as well. I’ve gotten the chance to attend various seminars and talks done by Scientists in the lab and outside as well. I had the opportunity to work at the Germplasm for a week where they maintain living genetic resources like seeds and tissue, for plant breeding preservation, and other uses. During my time there I got to participate in the annual lychee harvest, and got to squeeze out the juice from pineapples to analyze them for further research. I’ve attended so many events such as potlucks, spirit days, luau’s, and much more. We had a LGBT pride event where everyone got to bring clothes and fabric to tye-dye and take home. This is only one of the many amazing events we hold at the research center. PBARC is a place where workers are cherished and morale is an overall high. We’ve got a fun and quirky team at our research center where everyone is happy to share their knowledge and experience. As a student interested in becoming a scientist one day, it really fuels my passion to see all of these researchers, technicians, and research assistants who are so passionate about their work.
Everyone who I work with is such an inspiration and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work at such an amazing place. I’ve learned an incredible amount about the field of science and agriculture. I believe this knowledge sets me on such a good platform to advance me in further ventures. I had a talk with the scientist that I work under when I first started working, and she told me that a facility is much more likely to hire within the system, so if I decided that after I graduate, I wanted to continue working with PBARC, I would have a higher chance of getting hired compared to applicants from outside of PBARC. A lot of places are like this. I consider my boss as a mentor as well. I ask her for advice on not only work related things, but things about school and just life in general too. I am so thankful for her, and all of the people I have encountered on my journey with PBARC. I plan on being with them as long as possible and continuing to grow and learn with this team.
Ashley Romero is a Biology major at UH Hilo and ALEX’s Internship Champion. To learn more about Ashley’s work, and the work of the rest of the ALEX team, visit the official ALEX website.
Aquaculture expert Dr. Jim Wyban, and Kelly Moran, president and founder of Hilo Brokers, co-chaired the University of Hawaii at Hilo hosted HIplan Business Plan competition.
The competition, which consists of three rounds, was won by Ono Queens, a Pahoa-based business founded on raising queen bees. The winner, selected for their exceptional business plan, were awarded a $25,000 cash prize in order to begin implementing their new plan.
Submissions for the competition closed on September 10th, 2016, with the first event taking place on October 22nd.
For more information on the HIplan business plan competition, visit the official HIplan competition website.
On October 22nd, 2016, the Pacific Island Student Center hosted the third annual island-wide Youth Empowerment day. The event began at 6:45am, with volunteer check-in and registration. Keynote speaker Andrew Polloi, UH Hilo alumnus hailing from the Republic of Palau, addressed the participants and shared some of the lessons that he’s learned throughout his academic journey.
The event consisted of several workshops ranging in subject from career readiness to community readiness, with activities and resources available to all participants. At 3pm, the event closed with a performance by Tupulaga O Samoa Mo A Taeo (The Samoan Club), and a group photo.
150 Pacific Islander juniors and seniors from high schools across the Big Island attended the event. To make it happen, 100 UH Hilo student volunteers put in 25-30 (uncompensated) hours each!
For more information on this event visit the Navigating Success website.
The Office of Applied Learning Experience’s own Ashley Romero has been published in UH Hilo’s Ke Kalahea magazine! In her article, Romero writes about her experience as a college student on the hunt for career experience. For the full story, pick up a copy of Ke Kalahea, distributed across the UH Hilo campus.