This story is a part of our ‘A Day in the Life’ series that highlights the career journeys of 2U employees across the world. Throughout February we’re celebrating Black History Month and featuring members of one of our Business Resource Networks: the Black Engagement Network.
Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, Candice Adderly’s life revolved around the “Bull City.” Durham and its people instilled in her a sense of confidence and pride, and these values motivated her to stay in-state for school and, later, for her first job at Hilton Charlotte Center City.
Candice followed in her mom’s footsteps with a career in human resources at Hilton post-graduation. She met people who encouraged her and gave her the opportunity to find her passion. One of Candice’s fondest memories at Hilton was hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2012. To this day, she claims it was one of the fastest, longest, most hectic and tiring weeks of her professional life, but she wouldn’t trade the memories and experience for anything.
She loved the rush and the camaraderie at Hilton, but what Candice enjoyed the most was hosting and meeting people from across the world, constantly finding herself challenged to identify ways to connect through engaging communications. That realization led to a shift in her career, and Candice hasn’t looked back to HR since.
Today, Candice is a senior manager of internal communications at 2U, Inc., where exploring new pathways to share information is core to her job. No day is the same, and she likes it that way; she is kept on her toes by a professional flame that never extinguishes.
Five years into her career at 2U, Candice still finds excitement in executing on communications strategy across the company. She finds fulfillment in building 2U’s narrative and looks forward to continuing to advance the company’s story.
Interested in learning more about what Candice does and why she’s stayed at 2U? Read on for a day in the life of Candice Adderly.
Why did you join 2U? What is it about the company that sparked your interest? My love for North Carolina is still unmatched, but I found myself longing for something new and challenging. I had only known North Carolina and was ready to expand my network.
When I saw an opening at 2U, I knew it would be a great opportunity for me. I remember being most excited about the size of the company and the opportunity for growth (2U had just turned six and had recently gone public). I knew it would be a company that would allow me to be myself, provide valuable input, and continue to develop my skills.
How would you describe your role as senior manager of internal communications? Every day is different. Most people describe their careers in this way, but for me, this is the definition of my role.
As a senior manager in communications, I am responsible for working on strategy and communications with executives and teams across the organization, all of whom are distinctly different. Depending on the team or the task, I am focused on a new side of the business or project every day. It’s very rewarding—I get to be a part of the inner workings of the business and see all the moving parts that keep a public company alive—but it’s also challenging. When there is an idea, new tool, organizational change, or update, it’s on me and my team to develop an internal communications plan and strategy.
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your job? The most rewarding part of my job is talking with people every day who are passionate about education and the landscape of how we learn. I work with some of the smartest people in the education industry.
I would say the biggest challenge right now in my particular role is growth. 2U’s scale is exciting and inspiring, but it brings challenges, especially for those tasked with telling the company’s story. We are at a defining point in our history that requires us to find different and creative ways to tell the evolving 2U story. That evolution includes ensuring 2Utes understand our message and why we make the decision we do about the direction of the business.
Why did you join the Black Engagement Network? Before it was the Black Engagement Network, it was a grassroots group. I think it’s important to note where we were then and where we are now. I’m a firm believer in reflection and awareness—it’s key to making progress. Approximately 15 to 20 individuals were involved in the grassroots group, all of whom met regularly and hosted events and socials in our HQ location.
I belonged to that small group, and to see it officially transformed into a company-sanctioned affinity network was exciting. We set the groundwork for the creation of a safe space for black 2Utes, a space where you could meet people across the company, learn, network, and provide support.
For me, diversity and inclusion goes beyond hiring and the numbers. It’s what a company does following the hire to retain, support, promote, and develop diverse talent. I am in awe during every Black Engagement Network event, surrounded by black 2Utes across the company who are passionate about education, diversity, and making sure space at 2U is equitable for everyone.
What does Black History Month mean to you? Growing up in Durham allowed me to learn more about my history, as Durham was once called Black Wall Street because of the large number of black-owned businesses. I learned from my grandparents, parents, and my hometown church St. Joseph AME, a special place that played a key role in the civil rights movement and has been attended by many individuals who have made history in the country. One such legendary figure is lifelong member Mrs. Hortense McClinton, who sat behind my family at church every Sunday and, in 1966, was the first African American faculty member to be hired by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
When you have a family and community that will teach you your history—what black Americans have fought for, what they did and did not survive, and what we have accomplished today—you are given a sense of pride. But that pride comes with ownership that everything that has been tested and fought for before you cannot go unnoticed and there is still work to be done. Black History Month is a reminder, a glimpse of education, a time to express gratitude, and a celebration and acknowledgement of black contributions in this country.
You’re active in the community–whether that is through community service or politics. What ignited your passion for giving back? I have to credit St. Joseph AME, where three generations of my family have belonged. My church is very active in the community, so growing up I spent weekends going to volunteer at events. That’s what sparked my interest in community engagement and service.
As I got older, I took on more leadership positions at school and in the community. I was fortunate growing up, but I’m aware that everyone does not hold the same fortune. I find purpose and passion in giving back as much as possible and building up the people and communities around me. One way I give back now is by serving as the technology chair for the DC Democratic Women’s Club, which plays an active role in women’s rights and identifying new female leaders and politicians.
Of everything you’ve achieved at 2U so far, what are you most proud of? 2U Engage, our corporate citizenship initiative, is one of the many things I am most proud of. It’s a project I have led and been a part of since I started in 2014.
In 2018, we reimagined our 2U Engage efforts to focus on educational opportunities for underserved students across the world. We started small, but today I am happy to share that we currently sponsor scholarships and partner with nine nonprofit organizations. Some of our partners include The International Rescue Committee, College Track, Higher Achievement, Denver Kids Inc, and Communities in Schools.
You’re currently pursuing your MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Why MBA@UNC and why now? After graduating from East Carolina University I knew I wanted to continue my education, but it was more important for me to go straight into my career to learn, network, and create lasting experiences. Last year, I found myself in a good place to pursue that dream. I decided to apply to business school to continue to build on the skills I’ve learned over the last few years. With MBA@UNC, I knew I could learn from a top university and a diverse network of classmates, while benefiting from 2U’s generous tuition reimbursement program.
What advice would you give to someone just starting at 2U? Learn, balance, and connect. 2U is a unique place that offers you the opportunity to learn about the education technology industry and who you are as a professional. Over the last five years, I’ve had a variety of experiences in my professional career and it has made me a better manager, colleague, and partner in the business. Stay balanced. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the day-to-day grind of a fast-growing technology company, but balance your professional and personal time. We have unlimited PTO. Use it. And lastly, meet people. I cannot say this enough. The walls of 2U are built around individuals who are passionate about making education affordable, accessible, and high-quality for learners and educators across the world.
Interested in learning more about job opportunities at 2U? Check out our Careers page.