UH Hilo students hone their job interview skills

Career Exploration Event launches series of events leading to professional development certificate.

By Lara Hughes.

Students interview local business professionals at tables set up on the plaza.
At the Career Exploration Event held Friday, students acted as the interviewers and sat with local business professionals who each took on the role of an interviewee. Photos by Lara Hughes, click to enlarge.

The Career Exploration Event held on Friday at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo was the first in a series of events to be offered by the newly established American Marketing Association (AMA) chapter at the university. The event will be followed by two workshops and a career fair over the coming weeks. The first 50 students to participate in all events will be awarded with a professional development certificate.

Career Exploration Event

On Friday, students attending the Career Exploration Event flooded into the Campus Center Plaza to experience a speed-interview format designed to help undergraduates decide what type of field they want to go into.

Photo of group on plaza.
Students, community members, professors and professionals in attendance at the Career Exploration Event.
Students conduct mock interviews at tables set up on the plaza.
Interviews underway at Career Exploration Event.

For about two hours, students acted as the interviewers and were invited to sit with 10 different business professionals from the local community who each took on the role of an interviewee. The students were able to talk with them for intervals of ten minutes.

After their time was up, students would move to a different table with a different professional of their choosing.

Of the 10 “interviewees,” five received their degrees from UH Hilo.

Thomas DeWitt
Thomas DeWitt

“It gives [the students] an opportunity to interact with people who have graduated from the College of Business and Economics and see what they have achieved with their degree,” says Thomas DeWitt, associate professor of marketing and supervisor of the event.

Risa Kincaid, an executive team leader at Target, graduated from UH Hilo in May of 2011 and participated in Friday’s event.

“I feel as though I owe a lot to the college here at UH Hilo, especially the College of Business,” says Kincaid. “The reason I got hired on at Target, in my position as an executive team leader, was because of my involvement in the extracurricular [activities] offered by the College of Business. I was the vice president of the accounting club and the president of the business fraternity. Because I held these leadership positions at UH they felt I was equipped to have the role that I do at Target.”

Other UH Hilo alumni who interacted with the students:

  • Kallen Mizuguchi, agent with AFLAC.
  • Katie Lambert, owner at Aloha All Natural Cleaning Services.
  • Kelli Okumura, Institutional Research Analyst at UH Hilo.
  • Shannon Wibberley, small business specialist at Taketa, Iwata, Hara & Associates.
Kona Moran
Kona Moran

Kona Moran is a UH Hilo real estate finance lecturer, local realtor and private business person who was also present, donating his time to lend a hand.

“I think it’s extremely important to help students, and those in our community, learn about careers and help them with opportunities and choices,” says Moran. “The Career Exploration Event is a perfect way to give a lot of students a bite-sized portion of how an industry works. The more knowledge, the better.”

Other degree-holding business professionals at the event:

  • Gretchen Magnuson, human resources, HPM Building Supply.
  • Jackie Tan-DeWitt, owner at Moonstruck Patisserie.
  • Mihai Farcas, market risk manager at Credit Suisse.
  • Patrick Guillen, director of athletics at UH Hilo.

Preparing for the future

McKenna Hughes
McKenna Hughes

Business administration junior McKenna Hughes is working toward her degree with a focus on management. Her professors inspired to come to the event.

“It sounded really interesting and like something that I could really learn from that would be worth my time,” she explains.

Hughes said she was impressed by the various professionals, the paths that they took, and their stories. “It’s a really eye-opening experience,” she says.

Hughes had also been curious about internships and wanted feedback from business professionals.

“They really emphasized that they had an internship, or that they give internships to people, and that it’s very important.” She believes that, from there, she can get the experience to go into what she wants to do, and learn more overall.

The event was not limited to business majors, but was open to all. Students from different backgrounds were invited to attend, and some students even had a hand in the organization of the event.

Larry Sannicolas
Larry Sannicolas

Larry Sannicolas is a senior at UH Hilo, double concentrating in marketing and management. He recently joined the newly established AMA chapter, which hosted the event, and was helping with student sign-in.

When asked what his interest was in becoming a member of the AMA chapter, Sannicolas says, “I joined the American Marketing Association so that I may strengthen my future.”

About the counseling the group receives from their mentor DeWitt, Sannicolas says, “He provides us with external assistance from companies and people that have actually been working in the industries that we are trying to specialize in.”

Drew Martin
Drew Martin

Aside from business professionals from the local community and current UH Hilo students, various professors were also in attendance along with the interim dean of the business college Drew Martin.

“Every opportunity our students get to talk to people from the business community helps them understand how [the College of Business and Economics] program relates to their careers. I feel tremendous pride when industry people meet our students and discover how excellent they are.”

Upcoming Events

The next activities include two workshops and a job fair.

The first will be on resume writing on Thursday, Nov. 3 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in University Classroom Building, room 115, and will cover many topics including how employers evaluate resumes, how to identify personal skills and competencies from areas other than the workplace, and how to highlight these skills in a way that sets an applicant apart from the competition.

The second workshop will focus on personal salesmanship and will be held on Thursday, Nov. 10 at the same time and place. It will talk about what’s needed to research companies and positions, how to make the best first impression on employers, developing a 30-second “elevator speech,” questions to ask, and how to follow-up with employers.

The culmination of these workshops will be a CoBE Job and Internship Fair on Thursday, Nov. 17, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. to be held at the college’s newly renovated building.


About the author of this story: Lara Hughes (senior, business administration) is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

-UH Hilo Stories