Investment & Outcomes

Palm Beach Atlantic University graduate Jay Varano

Jay Varano '15


Describe your current job role:

I work as the Field Coordinator for the Everglades Trust (ET). My role involves keeping track of community events, staying in touch with the community, attending events related to the organization’s cause as well as maintaining relations with officials and community leaders. Our organization focuses on supporting legislation and causes in the state of Florida benefiting Everglades Restoration projects.

What professional experience(s) did you have prior to your current job role?

Before working at the Everglades Trust, I worked really hard in the food industry bartending, serving and bussing. Working in the food industry taught me valuable lessons such as: working unpredictable hours, dealing with difficult people, speaking in front of groups of people, time management and interpersonal communication. I also worked in the SAIL office while at PBA.

What do you know now that you wish you had known about being a working professional?

I wish I used email more before getting into the professional world. I consider myself an old school/old soul type of person when it comes to communication. At a small university like PBA, it was easy to build a network talking to random people face to face. However, when it comes to a large professional setting, tools such as email and social media are a huge plus to the bigger picture especially when working with people from Miami to Tallahassee.

"The best advice I can give is to be patient, stay connected with your fellow alumni, talk to everyone and make others laugh." 

How did PBA prepare you for the world of work?

PBA helped me develop my inner leadership traits. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of leadership, and it definitely has humbled me more than once. Being involved in student leadership at PBA teaches one servant leadership—you have to have a positive attitude, a relentless work ethic, and not think about “what can the people under my instruction do for me.” Instead, have the mindset of “what can I do to help another person bring out their best abilities and talents.” You get a deeper understanding out of those around you with this mindset, the people around you will emulate your actions, you will gain respect from your peers and superiors and God will open up opportunities in your life that you’ve never seen before.

What advice would you give to current PBA students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional full-time job?

The best advice I can give is to be patient, stay connected with your fellow alumni, talk to everyone and make others laugh. I did not get my current job right out of college. It took me a little over a year to get this job. This may sound cynical, but in the professional world it is easier to land a job because of whom you know. Take the opportunity to make new friends and learn about others. You may find people that have new opportunities for you, or you might make a friend that has a boat, and going on a boat is always fun when you live in Florida. It is also essential to joke around with others. At times in the professional world people are too serious. Luckily, my boss creates an atmosphere where all work hard, yet at the same time feel comfortable enough to joke around. I take a different approach to this seriousness situation. The best way to make great first impressions is letting your guard down and having fun. Making someone smile or chuckle goes a long way and makes my job worthwhile.

Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce? If so, what impact has that had on you?

My biggest mentor, even before I entered the workforce, has to be my grandfather. He is a World War II veteran, former business owner and most importantly a man of God. My granddaddy is the reason why I prefer the old school way of connecting with others. Whenever I visit him, I can’t expect a short visit, but he is a whiz when it comes to connecting with others. I pay close attention to his social cues with others and use them on the job for my own sake. If you’re having trouble with your faith, he’s the right person to talk to. I hope to be as inspiring as him is one day. He’s a great storyteller and gives great dating advice too.

Spotlight posted in September 2017. For current updates from Jay, visit his LinkedIn page or Everglades Trust Staff page

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