The ultimate thing I want to get out of going to business school is possibly getting the chance to finally combine my personal and professional interests into one awesome, challenging job (I’ll say it: Dream Job). I’ve certainly believed in the various causes of the nonprofits I have worked for (and their missions certainly made the work much more meaningful), but none have hit the issues that are near and dear to my heart. I have a few pet causes, but right now I’m focusing on one: Animal welfare.
In another culture, another country and another completely different existence, I may have become something like a naturalist by the time I hit 30. In this parallel life, I’d simply observe natural behavior, ponder it, discover amazing things and write about it (a version of E.O. Wilson, maybe?). I’ve always been drawn to animals and nature, despite the fact that I had little to no exposure to them. A 100% upper-middle-class suburban upbringing doesn’t allow for the nostalgic Americana childhood of catching frogs in ponds and collecting butterflies in jars.
Through various means, I got the idea that caring about animals was unimportant and frivolous. Why save animals when people were suffering and dying all over the world? When I was in college, I told a friend that I had donated money to the World Wildlife Fund. He was horrified that I had chosen to put my resources toward animals when I could have given to so many human-centered charities. In some ways, it was nice to finally hear someone say it out loud. He later became a doctor, by the way, in case you wanted to feel really unsurprised.
So basically, I kind of felt like I had this secret, unworthy passion that was almost…shameful? A lot of this has to do with Asian culture and the immigrant mindset (I’m 2nd gen). When you have a survivalist mentality (like a lot of immigrants do), spending time and money on animals is so far at the bottom of the list that it’s basically not there at all.
It took me around 25 years to Get Over It, at which point I really started to reflect on my life and started wondering how I could possibly wedge this cause into my work. I started poking around on job boards and looking into the kinds of positions were out there that would be possible for me. I also started thinking about the importance of branding when it comes to donations and charity work. Best Friends Animal Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have very different brands, don’t you think? A person might give to one and not the other. And–tada!–I found the area that overlapped all my interests and skills into one. Still not clear? I’m not 100% clear, either, but I think I’m on the right track. To be continued…