Pop-up internship program saves the summer for UH students

Odo Scholars
Congratulations to all the students who completed the Virtual Summer Internship Program.

EMBA alumni rallied fellow colleagues to create meaningful student experiences
By Dani Douglass

COVID-19 dashed the summer internship hopes for many students who saw their plans evaporate with the deteriorating economic conditions. Stepping up to fill the void, a group of 17 Shidler College alumni rallied with their time and resources to provide 19 students – six of whom were Shidler College students - with an unforgettable and meaningful summer. They engaged the Jordan & Cara Odo Scholarship Foundation to create a five-week Virtual Summer Internship Program to give students opportunities to obtain practical experience, expand their networks, and build on their service leadership in the community.

“In April, we knew that we could provide a meaningful opportunity to students, so we devoted countless hours to start an internship program within two months,” Jordan Odo, EMBA ’17, said. “It was an ambitious executed plan, and I’m happy it worked out!”

Prior to the start of the program in June, Director John Doyle, EMBA ’17, recruited three other alumni who were part of his cohort (Todd French, EMBA ’17, William Huynh, EMBA ’17 and Thijs Peestok, EMBA ’17) and fellow Shidler Alumni Association Board Director Katarina Matayoshi, BBA ’14, to serve alongside eight other mentors. The mentors devoted numerous hours to the program and provided practical advice and instruction and led the students in developing team leadership, research market analysis, information synthesis and presentation skills.

“It was so special working with my fellow EMBA 20 family again,” Doyle said. “We spent so much time in the trenches while at Shidler that we knew exactly how to extract peak performance from our interns and each other. It was magic.”

Once the students were accepted into the program, they were placed into five “departments” – finance, marketing, human resources, technology and legal. Within each subgroup, the students worked on individual projects related to the department’s subject based on their specific career interests. Over the course of the program, the students were also tasked to work on interdisciplinary capstone project teams to come up with a plan to solve a community issue related to COVID-19.

Shidler junior J.J. Bernando applied to 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,” Bernando 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.”

The program ended on July 18 and generated enormous support and encouragement from the community. All in all, nearly 50 working professionals and business leaders contributed their time and talents in various capacities. Three local businesses—The Queens Health Systems, First Insurance Company of Hawaii and American Savings Bank—also provided monetary assistance to provide scholarship awards to each of the 19 students who completed the program and potentially finance some of their capstone projects.

“This program really required a community of awesome volunteers,” Odo said. “In addition to myself, three others served on our foundation’s mentorship committee. We also had 12 mentors working many hours with students, 12 recruiters who provided individual feedback during mock interviews, more than 15 speakers who opened up about their careers and provided advice; and six executive-level judges who evaluated the capstone projects. We could not have even dreamed of such a program without everyone’s help.”

That collective effort and dedication to the next generation of leaders left a lasting impression on students. One thing for certain is that it has been a summer of honing essential business skills and one that Shidler College students won’t forget when they reflect on this unprecedented time in history.

“We spent countless hours speaking with community members and leaders, researching global perspectives and cultivating action plans,” said sophomore Stefani Sakamoto, whose team worked on an alternative solution to the 14-day quarantine to help with the recovery of Hawai‘i’s tourism industry. “As we drafted our business plan and presentation, we realized that our project has the potential to create positive and sustainable impact on our community.”

See news release for full list of program leaders, mentors, speakers and students.