A group of Wake Forest staff from various departments within University Advancement gathered over lunch on March 17, 2017, in Alumni Hall on the campus of Wake Forest University to discuss career development.

We began by sharing answers to the question, “What was your favorite job and why?” We quickly realized that, although the jobs that we had held spanned many different areas – from landscaping to sales, and theater to fungus – the reasons we enjoyed those jobs were quite similar.

We began a discussion about how many in the group had learned a new skill as a result of the favorite job or had taught others as part of the job responsibilities. Each person mentioned either learning or teaching when talking about a favorite job. One particular example resonated with our group: When one of us worked for a period in Old Salem, it was his responsibility to research meals that would have been cooked by the Moravians during that time period. He also had to ensure that the meals were seasonally appropriate to what resources would have been available during different times of the year. He then prepared the meals over an open fire and shared the meals and knowledge he gained through his research with visitors and other staff members. In fact, the opportunity to teach was a favorite part of the job for many of us. Another person in the group worked at a sporting goods store geared towards female athletes. One of the things she found most enjoyable was sharing her knowledge of field hockey with young athletes.

Our group drew a connection between our love for teaching and learning to the enjoyment gained from interacting with other people, and we also connected it to the joy of getting to know our co-workers and customers. This dialogue naturally led to a conversation about teamwork and the importance of working together to accomplish a greater goal. After a lengthy discussion, we dove into even deeper meaning: the importance of camaraderie in the work environment.

The conversation concluded with each of us sharing what we would take away from the conversation, and some clear themes emerged:

  • It is important to be able to both work hard and play hard with your colleagues.
  • Learning about others and being able to laugh about and enjoy differences improves the working environment.
  • And most importantly, having a sense of belonging, a sense of community and a caring environment were most valued by the group.

As University staff, we feel fortunate to work at a place that makes everyone feel that they belong to the Wake Forest family.