Career Connect: Building Bridges and Confidence
September 26, 2013
Fion Lau graduated from Brigham Young University-Hawaii in April 2013. She has returned home to Hong Kong and is working full-time and serving in the Church. Her life has begun.
Her journey from Hong Kong to Laie and back has been one of repeated surprises, occasional frustration, and reward. Not even a year after her return home, she looks back with appreciation for her BYU-Hawaii experience and how it prepared her for the future.
Born and reared in Hong Kong, Lau and her family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lau first heard about BYU-Hawaii as a young teenager when recruiters came to Hong Kong. After serving as a missionary in Hong Kong, she thought about other schools but settled on BYU-Hawaii with the idea that she would start there and transfer after a year. At first she didn’t really like Hawaii - the newness of everything and her urgency to get in, get done, and get home seemed at odds with the mix of people and activities around her.
She went home during the first summer and prayed to know what to do next. “I felt strongly that I should stay in Hawaii, even though I didn’t want to,” she says. She eventually chose to remain.
The next spring she heard about a Career Connect excursion to Hong Kong. “At first I was interested just because it was a chance to go home for a cheap price. But it ended up being more than that. Joining that program changed my life.”
Career Connect is a program led by BYU-Hawaii’s Career Services Office. It brings together groups of students with career interests in a geographic region. The students are prepared and chaperoned to that place where they meet with professionals in small group sessions and on company tours. “We help students develop relationships, access resources, and leverage opportunities,” says Jodi Chowen, director of Career Services. Career Connect is funded largely by the Yamagata Foundation.
As a Career Connect participant, Lau realized that she loved working with and helping people. So she changed her major to human resources. Lau says she also came to understand what kind of employees companies are looking for and what skills she needs to be successful.
When she got back to campus, she was a different student. “I used to not want to waste time on activities but focused only on my studies. When I came back I became president of the Hong Kong Club. It gave me chances to be a leader and learn about leadership skills. I organized activities. I even got to make a presentation about my Career Connect experience to two visiting General Authorities.
“Through all of this I learned how the Lord helps me find what fits for me. I enjoyed my classes more and learned more both academically and spiritually.”
After graduation Lau returned home and began looking for a job. A connection through Career Services was the key. Lau emailed Chowen who provided a list of the companies visited during the 2013 Career Connect in Hong Kong. Lau followed up and was hired by one of the companies. “I want to continue to grow and learn. BYU-Hawaii opened doors for me, and I am grateful for those who made it possible.”
Hundreds of miles away from her home in Ulaanbaatar, Buyanerdene Chimedregzen shouted aloud with joy when she received news of her acceptance to Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Her three long, grueling years of studying English through the university’s online program were paying off: her dream of studying at BYU-Hawaii had finally come true.