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Manager of Career Services Keni Kalama shares eight ‘genuine gold nuggets of wisdom’ for student success in devotional speech

Keni Kalama standing at the BYUH pulpit wearing a grey suit, several purple leis and a light colored tie.
Keni Kalama shared ways students can prepare to be successful professionally.


Networking and building relationships are keys to successful professional development, shared Keni Kalama, manager of Career Services, in his devotional address on Feb. 1.

He encouraged students to create their own personal vision of success by creating a plan. He said the plan does not have to be perfect because what matters is creating one and revising it over time. He also emphasized the importance of practice so one “can be better at executing it when it’s game time.”

Kalama said these values will bring students great opportunities when meeting with their dream organization in the future.

Gold nuggets

Through his perspective of “Keni’s genuine gold nuggets of wisdom,” he shared eight pieces of advice for students to practice so they can succeed in their professional career.

These eight “nuggets” included focusing on networking, building and nurturing relationships with others, maintaining a positive attitude, being organized, not being afraid of failure, excelling in church callings, finding a mentor and following the Spirit.

He said students should start filling their “nugget bucket with those choice experience that will contribute to [their] success” while they are in school.

Because BYUH is part of a global workforce, Kalama said BYUH students are “the best prepared future employees.”

Kalama encouraged students to continually add values to their “genuine gold mantle” in contribution to President David O. McKay’s vision of refining, developing and supporting their professional skills.

He explained, “Building [a] global professional network is included in [BYUH student’s] educational expense. The return on investment of [their] educational expenses will not be fully recognized if [they] leave this network currency on the table.”

He recommended networking via the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Ohana Network and the LinkedIn BYUH Facebook page.

As Kalama emphasized the importance of building relationships with others that are constantly nurtured, built and maintained, he said a good relationship will enable constructive and uplifting discussions.

A choice to be happy

Kalama said a positive attitude is crucial to a student’s learning experience and success when building relationships. He added they should prepare themselves “for situations that will take [them] out of [their] elements.”

A positive attitude will also help people avoid “the negative pitfalls of life” because they are handling life’s storms differently.

Gabriela Gomez, a senior from Guatemala majoring in intercultural studies and communications, said, “Attitude determines any situation.” She explained there are times when everything seems to be going wrong, but although people can’t choose what happens to them, they can choose how they handle it.

Kalama shared a story of PJ Rogers, director of Willes Center and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Business & Government, who broke his leg in a motorcycle accident. When he arrived on the scene, Kalama said Rogers insisted on Kalama taking a picture of him.

Kalama said he immediately rejected Rogers’ request, to which Rogers responded, “Keni, it’s a broken leg. It’ll heal, but my feelings won’t if you don’t take the picture.” Rogers wasn’t even angry when the police gave him a ticket, Kalama added.

He urged devotional listeners to “choose to be happy.” He emphasized this will be easier as people recognize there is a choice when it comes to happiness because this will help them control what they can. “Leave the rest to this magical universe PJ lives in,” Kalama added.

APCC & Career Services

Kalama added church callings provide skills essential to the workplace. He invited individuals to attend the Asia-Pacific Career Conference to “practice, practice, practice” their professional skills.

At Career Services, Kalama said he and his colleagues assist students with their professional development through networking, info sessions, one-on-one meetings, workshops, career fairs and APCC.

With the opportunity to practice researching companies and graduate programs offered at the APCC, Kalama invited each student to practice their elevator pitch, revise their resume and gain confidence in introducing themselves.

“APCC is for everyone and it provides a great opportunity to practice for when [they] get the chance to meet [their] dream employer or the organization [they] want to work with in the future.”

Following the Spirit

Above all, Kalama said the most important point of his advice is to follow the Spirit. “Follow the spirit and things will fall into place.”

He added, “Sometimes it wasn’t what I wanted, but the experiences that came from the decisions I’ve made by following the Spirit have blessed me throughout my life.”

Benjamin Mitchell, a senior from Australia majoring in political science, said following the spirit can give directions like a compass. “The same compass of old in which Nephi’s faithfulness and consistency in deepening his relationship with the Savior and God brought him down to the best path.”

Mitchell added by remaining consistent and faithful, Church members can strengthen the Lord's upper hand in their lives to provide light and direction to the fullest of their divine potential.