We had the pleasure of sitting down with Caroline Adegun on 10.30.15 to hear all about her amazing and inspiring career path. From human resources at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, to not for profit photography, to her brand new "I am Loved" ministry, Caroline is all about spreading the love. We asked her all about her education, career start, getting into photography, and the rewards and challenges of her current job. Check out her story!
What was your education like?
Well, I’m from Rhode Island so I graduated from classical high school and attended George Washington University. I graduated with my degree in a bachelors of arts in psychology and organizational communications. I am graduating in May with a masters in human education and development with a concentration in human resource development. I’ve been a peer educator since I was 14 at an organization called Youth in Action and that’s really how I developed my passion for the personal and professional development of others. I believe my calling more so is to help others achieve satisfaction and success.
How did you start your career?
I started working in this HR department when I was 17. So as soon as I started college here, my supervisor in the colonial community for work life and wellness interviewed me for a job and immediately hired me on. Once I graduated, they interviewed me for a full time job here and I got it. I’ve done a lot at GW. I was a house proctor for two years so my junior and senior year I lived in a building with freshmen. That’s how I got my nickname Mama-C. Everyone on this campus calls me Mama-C just because I’m like a mother here. I’ve had an impactful relationship with at least a group of students from every generation that is here at GW now. I also worked in the center for alcohol and drug education as a peer educator there.
How did you end up with your position as a Work-Life Specialist?
I entered here as a talent acquisitions coordinator but then an opportunity struck and I was able to engage with my supervisor about a void in the colonial community. We noticed that there was a void in the colonial community and there were opportunities for us to collaborate more and so my position just transitioned into that space where there was a gap. There is always room for work life in an organization. The work life and wellbeing arena in many organizations is often not touched on, they often focus on the professional development of their employees and they don’t really see that wellbeing is holistic. If an organization wants to be successful and they want their employees to be successful they have to focus on personal and family life, financial wellness, healthy living, work fulfillment and community building. Those are the five areas that we focus on at Colonial Community so all of our programs are structured under those five pillars of wellbeing. We want people to think of wellness holistically.
I have work life integration. Often times we talk about work life balance and in this field we are trying to move away from using that term because its like you have to make a choice between work and home. I bring my authentic self everywhere I go, who I am at home is who I am at work. I pride myself on having substantial relationships with my collegues, I consider them my family and I care for them like family. I’m big on recognizing people and making them feel loved. I have a ministry I just started called “I am Loved” ministry about three weeks ago. It’s made to show God’s love through tangible gift giving.
What is your favorite aspect of your job at the university?
My favorite part of my work here is more so the personal professional aspect. We care about your family, we care about what’s happening with your children, we care about what’s happening with your spouse, we truly do care. I want others to be happy in their lives. I am blessed to be in a position to create events and programs around campus to do that for people.
How did you discover that you wanted to pursue photography?
I actually took a course at GW, we’re required to take an arts course, and that’s how it started. I did photography for four years and two months ago I transitioned my photography into a not for profit ministry. So what I did was in leu of paying me, I partnered with ten organizations for things like breast cancer, leukemia, military funds, and bullying. I do the photoshoot and my client gets a sheet of how to donate and once they forward me the receipt they get the link to their pictures. All proceeds go directly to one of these good cause organizations. I was just going to give people free pictures, I didn’t care, but I thought that now I can use this to benefit other organizations. I wanted to work with smaller organizations that are maybe not as recognized so I’ve been working to identify organizations that relate to people I know.
How do you find a balance between your university job and your photography business?
It’s about to start integrating. I just had my performance review with my supervisor last week and we are working on how I can integrate my creative talents into my position here in HR. I partner very closely with our HR department to implement our creative services. I am a graphic designer, I am a photographer, I do web design, so now we’ve decided that I will be partnering closely to improve our communication strategy here with my creative talents.
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
It’s my students. Its working with students. It’s being mama-c by far. Being mama-c is so important to me and knowing that I have very close relationships with my students. I’ve been here my whole adult life and I just think that it’s a great place to grow personally, grow professionally, grow spiritually. GW is an organization that strives for excellence for sure in everything we do.
What is the most challenging part?
I am very God affirming and I am Christian very much so. Professionally it is hard to bring in your religion just because it is not seen as professional. It is very, very challenging for me to not talk about god and my beliefs because I am a very strong believer. When I’m trying to encourage people, I have to be strategic with how I’m wording it. It’s something that I’m working on and its my biggest challenge. Sometimes I want to walk around and give people bible verses but I can't and that’s hard for me.
What would a typical workday entail for you from start to finish?
Usually, I mostly do on-boarding, so welcoming new employees. Every Monday we do a new employee orientation. We formally welcome our new employees with a three-hour program where they learn about GW as a community, they learn about logistical stuff they have to get done, they also learn about benefits, payroll and health and safety. I also have office hours throughout the week to help new employees adjust so if they have questions, issues, or concerns I make myself available to them. I’m also planning events for how we can engage our new employees with wellbeing in the five areas that we’ve identified- family and personal life, healthy living, community and culture, work fulfillment, and community building.
What is something you do purely for fun?
I like to paint, paint by numbers. I like to be around people and hang out with my roommates.
Take a page from Caroline's book and get emotionally invested in your career. Cultivate relationships with co-workers, Spread tokens of kindness, and make time to follow your interests on the side while also serving your community. You may just love your job because of it!
Do you love your job too? We want to hear about it! Tell us your story here to be featured in our "I Love My Job" campaign.