UH Hilo College of Business and Economics prepares students for workforce with Career Development Program

  • Among services offered through the CoBE Career Development Program are workshops, mock interviews, and resume development.
  • Once a student meets with the career development coordinator, advice could include recommendations on managing a students’ course load and finding an internship at local and national businesses.

By Alyssa Mathews.

Group of students stand for group photo, some holding up t-shirts with workshop logo.
Students last semester who attended a workshop on entrepreneurship. Courtesy photo from the Career Development Program, UH Hilo.

Oftentimes, students majoring in business or economics find themselves questioning their career path or major and feel intimidated by the thought of going into a demanding workplace environment after graduation. The College of Business and Economics (CoBE) at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has developed a program that provides guidance and opportunities for students to alleviate their concerns and broaden their horizon to get a glimpse of what their future could look like.

Helen Tien
Helen Tien

Helen Tien, an instructor of marketing and management who also serves as CoBE’s career development coordinator, says students often second guess their choice of major. “We can help with that,” she says.

Bringing clarity to students’ career plans

Tien meets with business and economics students to help them discover the best options based on their major, academic performance, interests and so forth. In college, says Tien, students have a hectic schedule balancing life, part-time jobs, and classes. This sometimes causes students to lose sight of why they chose their major in the first place.

Students also may find that they don’t like certain classes or subjects within their major. However, this doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be suited for a job in their desired field.

“With business students, what they learn in class—whether it’s accounting, marketing, or agricultural economics—is applied knowledge, meaning that they need to be able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real work situations,” explains Tien. “So we want them to get ready for that.”

She says it can be a daunting task for many students to jump right into a job straight out of college, so the career development office takes that into consideration and tries to help students feel as prepared as possible for their future.

Applied learning

Among services offered through the Career Development Program are mock interviews and resume development. When a student meets with Tien, her advice might include recommendations on altering the students’ course load or interning at local businesses.

Internships allow students to apply the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom to see if they’re suited for the work that interests them. In turn, this benefits local industries by providing them with employees who are prepared with skills that are tailor-made for that specific business.

“The program works directly with businesses,” says Tien. “[I] work to prepare students to become the kind of employees that business are looking for, down to their attitude and tangible skills.”

The local businesses that accept interns are wide ranging.

“The vast amount of different kinds of businesses on the Big Island provide a wide range for students to get involved in—hospitality, banking, fashion management, agricultural economics, tourism, et cetera,” Tien says.

For example, students who are interested in entrepreneurship can intern with a company that is similar to what they hope to start up in the future. This allows them to see if they are capable of running their own business.

Upcoming events

Not only does the CoBE Career Development Program work to provide students with internship experiences during the course of their college careers, but it also works to maintain connections with alumni. The College of Business and Economics will be hosting an Alumni Thank-a-Thon on Nov. 9, 2018, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., and 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the CoBE multipurpose room. CoBE alumni will be honored.

The CoBE career development program is also hosting a Speed Networking event sponsored by the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 2 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. There will be an afternoon of networking with chamber board members and some of the largest employers on the island. Attendees will be able to network in a fun and stress-free environment with time to spend with employers and chamber members. Register online.

This post was revised on Nov. 7, 2018, to clarify the honorees at the Alumni Thank-A-Thon.


Story by Alyssa Mathews, a freshman at UH Hilo. She graduated from Waiakea High School and is a UH Hilo Chancellor’s Scholar.