The Young Professionals Committee at the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce started as a suggestion to me, when I moved back to Hilo from Honolulu in 2018. The goals of this group are simple, find like-minded professionals who are starting off in their careers, build a network, referral sources, grow and learn together. We welcome young professionals between the ages of 21-39 from Chamber member businesses and organizations.

The YP Committee has grown to over 50 members who are all not just active in their professional lives but out of work as well, volunteering for chamber events and out in the community. We plan social and educational events that are relevant to our age group.  Previous socials include a virtual mixology class with the Grand Naniloa Hotel, a virtual Halloween themed game night, sake tasting at HPM Building Supply, and a hike to the Kaulana Manu Kipuka Bird Trail. Professional Development Topics include: Leading Through Crisis, Applying for a Mortgage, and Understanding the 4 Tendencies in the Workplace. 

We recently organized the Chamber’s first Career Fair, which featured 40 Hawai`i Island employers and over 200 jobseekers.  Last year, we held our Inaugural Young Professionals Recognition Gala in which we celebrated the achievements of four deserving young professionals in our community and presented the first Young Professional of the Year award.

I am excited to introduce the Co-Chair of our Young Professionals Program, Paoakalani Shook (Paoa). Paoa is the Manager of Regional Team Initiatives for Teach For America Hawaiʻi, a non-profit organization that recruits and develops lifelong leaders working towards expanding educational equity in our communities. Originally from Oʻahu and a new resident of Puna, Paoa looks forward to expanding her own community leadership and network here on Hawaiʻi Island as co-chair of the YP committee. Paoa will be helping to plan YP socials and Business After Hours events for the YP age group. 

We would like to ask our Chamber members to help spread the word about YP and encourage any of your employees between the ages of 21-39 to participate in YP events or join our committee. Our meetings are on the 2nd Thursday of every month at 4pm and we invite you to attend virtually on Zoom or in-person at the HICC Conference Room. Send yourself or others you know who might be interested our way so that we can add folks to our meetings!

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