Caroline Baloga | Alumni Spotlight
Date: May 3, 2021
Sustainability Coordinator for UVA Dine (Aramark), University of Virginia
From working at the Campus Farm to interning with MDining and serving on the food team for the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality, Caroline was able to build the skills and leadership experience she needed to land her current role. Today, she facilitates sustainability initiatives and leads a team of student interns to making food purchasing more equitable, sustainable, and local.
Did any of your experiences on campus lead you to your current role?
For about three years during undergrad, I worked at the Campus Farm as a Student Farm Manager. This experience really introduced me to sustainable food systems and gave me hands-on experience that allowed me to directly participate in food systems at Michigan, which was really empowering. Throughout the three years that I worked with the Campus Farm, I gained professional development skills that have helped me in my current role with managing a team of student interns and with collaborating with a variety of sustainability stakeholders across UVA and the Charlottesville community. I also gained a lot of insight about sustainable food production and GAP certification, which has been useful for my current work with local sourcing and establishing relationships with local producers.
During my time at Michigan, I was also fortunate to be involved with UM Sustainable Food Program, intern with MDining for a summer as a sustainability intern, and was a Research Analyst for the Food team of the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality. These opportunities gave me a range of experiences within food sustainability, which has been enormously helpful in my current position where I have so many different focuses. These experiences also made me confident that food sustainability was where I wanted to focus my job search and career.
My current work can be challenging because I work with a variety of stakeholders and focus on many different elements of food sustainability, with only so many hours of the day,but I feel fortunate to have found a position where I can use the skills I developed in undergrad and apply them in a familiar university environment.
What is one piece of advice you would give students interested in pursuing a career in food systems?
I haven’t worked in food systems for long, but here are a few pieces of advice that I can offer:
– Our food system is complex, so immerse yourself in different topics of food sustainability and keep learning more.
-Be open to working in a variety of environments that come with different sets of limitations and challenges.
-Get comfortable working with a diversity of stakeholders that offer unique perspectives and identities.
-Don’t be afraid to throw yourself into your work wholeheartedly.