Q: Hi, Brianne! Thanks for taking a few minutes away from operating the baler on a very hot day to talk with me. When did you first start at Mr. K's, and what made you interested in the job?
Hi. It was in 2021. I was working in the kitchen at a restaurant, and I was tired of being inside. I wanted to be outside. I love being outside. Sometimes we [employees] complain about the heat and the rain, but outside, we can see everything. Gestures at the sky and all around.
Q: What do you like most about working here?
My co-workers. They are cool, nice and down-to-earth people who are easy to talk with and non-judgmental.
Q: What's the hardest thing about working here?
The heavy stuff. When the forklifts are being used somewhere and a big commercial load of electronic waste arrives, we have to drag and move it ourselves.
Q: What's something you'd like our customers to know?
It would really help if they could take the caps off their bottles and not have other rubbish in their bags. Before I worked here, I left the caps on, but thought, oh, it's their job to take them off. But then I started working here and it's so time consuming to have to take off all these caps, especially if we're really busy.
Above: Brianne and the baler.
Claire Cea, office manager, shared how she values Brianne being part of the team up front as cashier. When customers happen to get upset about something, her understated demeanor and practical approach reassure them as they see her calmly taking next steps to resolve the issue.
Brianne has also been a great help as a baler operator. "The baler is a big piece of equipment, and if it breaks, it can be down for a while," explained Claire. As baler operator, Brianne has demonstrated that not only can she operate the baler safely and responsibly, but also that she can work on her own, as the baler is in a rather isolated spot behind the building.
Asked what advice she might give to others thinking about working in recycling and possibly operating machinery, Brianne laughs and says, "Don't be afraid to get dirty!"
Q: Aloha, Dale! We've been so happy having you here for your internship. Could you tell us what you're studying?
Hi! Yes, I'm in my second year in the Associate in Science program at Hawai`i Community College, in Information Technology.
Q: How did you first get interested in IT?
I used to design weblogs for my friends using a hosting site called Xanga. Xanga is old school -- it predates MySpace! I liked that you could customize things, like using different backgrounds or making it sparkly.
Q: What brought you to Mr. K's for your internship?
I like being able to take things apart. And with hardware [in contrast to programming], certain things make it easy. If a computer doesn't start, the troubleshooting usually starts with switching out the RAM. If it's a motherboard issue, which often involves soldering, [which we don't do], then the computer gets recycled as [electronic] waste.
Q: What do you like the most about working at Mr. K's?
I like being a part of something that keeps Hawaii clean. Mr. K's makes it so everyone's old electronics have a place to go. Just imagine how our landfills, side streets, back roads, and possibly waterways would look littered by laptops, flat screen and CRT TVs, PCs. Malama Ka `Aina is what Mr. K's believes in, and I am definitely honored and proud to be a part of this.
Q: What's been most challenging about working here?
Some of the commercial electronic waste that comes in is pretty heavy, like big UPS (uninterrupted power supply) batteries. On the first day, I couldn't lift 40 pounds of weight. But now I can lift more than 60 pounds. I never thought I could lift 60 pounds. I guess you get conditioned by repetitive lifting of e-waste. Don't get me wrong, there are days when my muscles ache. But when I think about where the e-waste could end up if Mr. K's didn't accept it, it is a small price to pay.
Q: You've been working in recycling for two months now. What's something that you'd like to tell people about recycling?
It may sound cliché, but one man's trash is another man's treasure. A lot of the stuff that comes in here is half broken, but somehow our team gets it up and running again.
Q: What are your plans after finishing your degree at HCC?
I'm applying to the University of Hawai`i Maui College's Applied Business Information Technology program. I haven't decided yet what realm of IT I want to be in.
bove: Dale Kuamoo with her mentor, Evan Takita, of the IT Department
Dale was Evan Takita's first intern. Evan is a graduate of Hawai`i Community College and was himself an HCC intern back in the day. Evan was impressed by how quickly Dale has picked up things. "She's not afraid of asking questions," he said, "and she thinks ahead to the next steps."
Evan also praised Dale's willingness to take on some of the physical tasks involved in recycling e-waste. Sometimes Mr. K's will receive several pallets of electronics, which then has to be sorted by type and weight. This might be intimidating for some, but not Dale. "She's not afraid of hard work," said Evan.
Dr. Carrie Butler, Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of HCC's Business Education and Technology Division, expressed appreciation to Roy Kadota and the team at Mr. K's. "We appreciate Mr. K's willingness to help our students learn and provide a service to the community," she said.
Internships are an integral part of providing HCC Business Education and Technology students with real-world experience and training. Employers interested in internship placements should contact Dr. Butler at email@example.com .