Learn how Maddie effects change by meshing her passions with work and her advice for finding happiness through your career choices.
I am the Senior Manager of Member Relations for the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) – a member-based trade organization with the mission to champion, strengthen, and elevate our members and the plant-based foods industry. Through my role, I get to be in contact with plant-based food companies and help them work through challenges and solve problems. My life goal is to see animal agriculture displaced by plant-based foods because I know that is what’s best for animals, people, and the planet. Getting to work directly with the companies and people doing that great work is a dream. I am also a natural connector. Through my role, I get to know everyone in this incredible industry and, therefore, can hopefully be better at forging those links.
I have always chosen to follow my heart over money. Because of that, I have been fortunate enough to work in the craft beer industry, the food justice space, animal welfare, and now the plant-based sector. By meshing my passions with work, I don’t ever have the dread that most folks feel about going to work. Each day I see work as an opportunity to effect the change I want to make in the world; the tiny steps towards progress I make each day allow me to feel like my life is worth something. We spend so much of our lives in our work and nowadays there is something that could suit every type of passion. Why not do what you love and get paid for it?
Maddie’s advice for those looking to make their passion into a career?
1) Write up an imaginary job description for the role you want in the industry you want to work! That exercise helps you envision where you want to be, understand your skills, and articulate your ideal contribution. I did it before I got a job at PBFA, but I never shared it with anyone. I worked for a while in a completely different industry, but I kept in regular contact with a few of the employees here. Eventually, they had a position that was a perfect fit for me, and I got the job! My husband did something similar for his transition into solar energy, and the same method worked for him too!
2) Network, but do it the right way. I’ve noticed that many people take the first (and hardest) step with networking, asking for a meeting. But then, after they do the initial meeting, they never follow up. The follow-up is the most crucial part. If there is a place or industry that you know you want to work in, be consistent and regularly follow up (every six months or so). Try to offer something to the person who gave time to you, even if it’s just a quick email to share an article or tell them you thought of them. It keeps you on their mind, so if they have an opening that may be a good fit, you are the first person they will remember.
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