Amy Calandrino (Class of ’05) was accepted to all 10 colleges to which she applied in 2002. But as a first-generation college student paying her own way through college, she chose Valencia for its proximity to home and its family feel.

She enrolled in Valencia’s honors program in her first year, and soon realized that night and weekend classes gave her the opportunity to work at a law office during the day, as opposed to restaurants and bars late at night. Nearly 15 years later, after transferring to Rollins College and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English, Calandrino still works for that same law office, but today she works in a management capacity.

She has also started her own commercial real estate firm, targeting small businesses.

While making professional strides, Calandrino hasn’t let education fall by the wayside. She is currently working towards her CCIM designation to become a Commercial Certified Investment Member. She continues the reading habit she picked up in college, averaging about 20 books every year. Her latest favorite book is “The Power of Broke” by FUBU founder and Shark Tank investor Daymond John.

In Winter Park, Calandrino worked with Leadership Winter Park to set up a forum featuring people who’ve been on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and she regularly finds herself giving advice to new concepts and start-ups. Based on personal experience and the small businesses with which she works, Calandrino often gives pointers to aspiring entrepreneurs.

“Find the right space for your model and budget. Know the cost of starting a business, and have a business plan put together. There are a lot of entrepreneurial resources in the community to help you with that… The National Entrepreneurship Center at Fashion Square Mall is a great start.”

Once you’re in business, reputation is everything, says Calandrino.

“Do what you say you’re going to do … A lot of people come to me after working with people who have over-promised and under-delivered. I never take on a client unless I feel like I could add value.”


Valencia College shared the following story in their social media on April 20, 2017