dozens of zoom screens

Nearly 20 University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Shidler College of Business alumni stepped up to provide valuable opportunities for the community, as the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected many industries.

Summer business internship program

Finding summer internships became more difficult for students. Therefore, 17 alumni spent a few months designing, recruiting and administering a five-week virtual business internship program for 19 students, including six Shidler students. Led by the Jordan & Cara Odo Scholarship Foundation, the alumni placed the accepted students into five departments—finance, marketing, human resources, technology and legal. Students worked on individual projects based on their career interests and in teams to develop a plan to solve a community issue related to COVID-19.

The program ended on July 18 with nearly 50 working professionals and business leaders contributing their time and talents. The Queen’s Health Systems, First Insurance Company of Hawaii and American Savings Bank provided monetary assistance for scholarship awards to each of the 19 students and may potentially finance some of their capstone projects.

I was stuck at home scrambling to find ways to pursue my professional development.
—J.J. Bernardo

“This program really required a community of awesome volunteers,” said Jordan Odo, a 2017 UH Mānoa executive MBA graduate and Odo Scholarship team president. “We could not have even dreamed of such a program without everyone’s help.”

Shidler junior J.J. Bernardo participated in the program after his study abroad trip to Korea was canceled.

“I was stuck at home scrambling to find ways to pursue my professional development,” Bernardo said. “Being that this was a one-of-a-kind internship experience that was virtual, I applied knowing that I’d be able to benefit from it after having many plans postponed due to COVID-19.”

Leading Hawaiian Airlines through COVID-19

headshot of Lance Higa
Lance Higa

Hawaiian Airlines is one of the toughest hit businesses during the pandemic due to a sudden drop in visitors to the state. However, a company leader is trying to keep a positive outlook for its employees and guests.

Lance Higa is a 2005 executive MBA graduate and Hawaiian Airlines senior director of Oʻhana by Hawaiian operations. He is working with his leadership team to implement actions to assure the safety of the public and its employees. Hawaiian Airlines allowed many employees to work remotely, enhanced cleaning on aircraft, limited the number of passengers per flight, provided as much spacing as possible and implemented crew precautions to keep teams safe. Higa acknowledges the future economic fallout due to COVID-19, however, he wants the community to remain positive.

“Leaders emerge in times of crisis,” Higa said. “This will pass but the memory of those who stepped up to the challenge will not. Look ahead at what each of us can do to learn from this crisis and use this experience to build your skills and mental toughness.”

For more, visit the Shidler on the Frontline website.

—By Marc Arakaki