Q&A with Elena Pastore
The Gator Career Consultant Q&A Series aims to create a diverse collection of career experiences through highlighting University of Florida (UF) alumni.
Elena Pastore graduated from UF in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in international business. In addition to being a freelance consultant, she runs her own career coaching business that helps develop and train college student leaders, especially in Greek-letter organizations, to enhance their leadership skills. Pastore’s programming includes career coaching and consulting services for people of all ages, industries, and experience levels and enables clients to be impactful and influential in their roles.
The UF Career Connections Center spoke with Pastore about her experiences at the university and her journey as a leadership and career coach.
Can you share your experience with involvement in UF?
My involvement pretty much spanned Greek life and business school. Those were the two major groups that I was involved in. I really loved being a business major. We gained a lot of great insights in class, but then the learning really comes with the application of the principles and the things that you learn.
There was one specific program that I was involved in for my whole duration of college, which was called the Leadership Development Program. I was a mentee my freshman year, then I became a mentor and then I had a few director roles. Eventually, I became president for my senior year.
One of the things that really meant the most to me in pouring my time into that organization was creating the optimal experience for the mentees—making sure that they were getting a lot out of their participation, engaging with the group and the other mentors and mentees, and setting up the organization with a strong culture where everyone feels comfortable sharing, participating and feeling that sense of value and belonging within the organization.
How did you come to create your own company?
I had those leadership positions in college, and I’ve always liked helping develop other people. I’ve always loved teaching them how to be successful for the job and internship search and how to be a good leader when they embark on that next step.
I wanted to find a job as a leadership coach or some type of people development coach where, regardless of whether it was a career- or leadership-related, I would be able to help them develop their interpersonal skills. That’s what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t find a company that hires a fresh graduate for that. I said, “I’m confident that I can get my own business if I start a company doing this, and I think there’s an opportunity that I can take advantage of.”
I had the vision to start my company doing leadership coaching for students in Greek life organizations by training, coaching, and working with the executive boards. I had that specific idea because that’s a group that I know. I had similar leadership positions, so I can relate to them. I’ve learned a lot from my business experience to where I feel like I can help them be really effective leaders and sort of walk them through things that I learned to prevent from making mistakes and being any less effective than they potentially could be.
I’m very qualified to do that. It’s just that there’s no company that already does that. I really feel like there’s always a way to do something you love, and you don’t have to feel like, “I can’t do something I love now. I have to wait five years.” I would have probably enjoyed a lot of other jobs out there, but I didn’t want to wait to do what I love because someone couldn’t hire me to do it when I could hire myself to do it.
What is one thing that you would tell students to do now to prepare for their future?
Even when you don’t know what you’re going to be doing in a few years, you’re always selling yourself. You don’t know who might be able to hire you for a job or what person might be able to introduce you to someone that can hire you for a job.
You don’t have to have the end in mind, and you don’t have to have the outcome picked out today, but you need to be meeting people, making connections, and treating everyone kindly. You need to be putting yourself out there, learning from people and learning about different things and different topics. All of those things can be connected in some way down the road that will make a transformational impact on your life and what you’re trying to do.
A lot of times, that’s very hard for students to understand because it’s very intangible. It’s very hard to see or to picture how an ambiguous or seemingly insignificant situation could help me or how it could help you. Many connections I’ve made over the last few years have already paid off in the most unpredictable ways, and I’m still not even that far out of college. I think students really underestimate the power of networking and building those connections early on because it really does serve you well when you put the effort in.
Want to share your experience with other Gators? The Career Connections Center is recruiting Gator Career Consultants.