Returning to the University of North Florida campus to help construct a new building may be one of the most rewarding experiences in Will Schaet’s professional career since graduating from UNF in 1994.
The UNF degree, which is Schaet’s second college degree, also turned out to be his most useful degree considering he is currently the director of operations for the Jacksonville office of Barton Malow Co., a major national construction management company.
Born into a military family, Schaet moved frequently while growing up, changing homes 23 times in 21 years. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Virginia for about two years before transferring to the University of Florida where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Following graduation, he took a series of short-term positions in a number of companies ranging from financial planning to working for a company selling solar hot water heaters. To earn a little “pocket money,” in between those positions, he went back to something he enjoyed much more – carpentry. He eventually became a project superintendent building convenience stores while also enrolled in UNF’s construction management program.
After graduation, his career opportunities blossomed with offers from several major companies including The Haskell Co. He spent seven years with the Jacksonville-based company doing projects from a resort in Jamaica to an airport terminal in New Jersey.
In 2002 he was offered a job by Barton Malow to be the project manager for construction of the Baseball Grounds at Jacksonville. With the completion of that project he was asked to open a permanent Jacksonville office for the company.
That’s what eventually led to the UNF project; construction of Osprey Commons, which includes the Osprey Café, the up-scale student dining facility on campus.
“It was a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment to come back to my alma mater to lead this project,” he said. “I think what was most rewarding was the sense of giving back to the University and applying the knowledge I obtained here.”
He said it was also satisfying to engage with several of his UNF classmates who had also graduated from the Construction Management program and were working for other companies in the area. “It was a type of welcome home feeling to be able to reconnect with my fellow classmates. It also illustrated the impact the UNF program has had in the community.”
Schaet has nothing but praise for the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction and specifically the Construction Management program. “It’s ideally suited for working professionals. I would not be where I am today without my experience at UNF.”
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