Meet Ana, a marketing manager for Animal Advocacy Careers, a nonprofit organisation that is addressing the talent bottleneck in the animal advocacy movement by providing career support and helping individuals make a positive impact for animals.
Ana’s professional journey has consistently been guided by the aim of contributing to a better future for animals everywhere.
In this inspiring interview, she talks about her motivation to use her career for good, her experiences working as both a freelancer and in full-time positions and offers valuable advice for anyone considering using their career to make a positive impact.
Photo courtesy of Ana Barreiro
Q: Can you share a bit about your background and journey as a freelancer? How did you get started, and what led you to where you are today in your freelancing career?
My journey as a freelancer has been a mix of different experiences. I’ve found myself freelancing full-time, working regular full-time jobs, and sometimes even juggling both simultaneously, depending on what opportunities resonated with me at the time.
I started freelancing on the side while holding a full-time job at a startup in Portugal. Back then, I wasn’t making much money and my job didn’t quite fulfil me. In response, I took on side projects that aligned better with my preferences and gained expertise in specific areas of digital marketing, such as SEO and advertising.
A couple of months later, the agency I was freelancing for extended an offer to join them as a full-time team member. I accepted it, with the goal of gaining some more career capital – essentially, expanding my skills across diverse marketing areas to eventually channel them into animal advocacy work.
So I did the same thing again: I got a freelance job for about 5 hours per week at a vegan marketing agency, alongside my full-time work. Over time, my hours for the vegan agency increased and I left my job at the Portuguese agency. A month later, I secured a part-time job at Animal Advocacy Careers (AAC), and have been conciliating that with freelance work for vegan businesses.
Recently, the vegan agency I was working for ceased its operations. Subsequently, I got an offer to work full-time at Animal Advocacy Careers, and that’s what I’m doing now!
Right now, I’m not seeking new freelance projects, but I am still engaged in volunteer work for a sanctuary in Portugal and helping a couple of animal charities with their Google Ads Grants.
Q: What motivated you to align your freelancing career with causes or movements that are important to you, and how has this alignment influenced your approach to freelancing?
I went vegan in 2016, in my second year of university. Animal suffering is the issue that touches me the most, because of the horrible conditions the animals endure and the tremendous scale of the problem. I feel like this is a huge injustice and I want to do whatever I can to stop it.
I’m really lucky to have found these opportunities to help animals, but it was also because of perseverance, hard work and prioritising my personal/professional development. Whether it’s through articles, newsletters, books or online courses, I try to learn something new about marketing and fundraising every day (I recently also started doing digital fundraising work for AAC).
Another way I approach my freelancing work is by using ethical marketing methods. I focus on strategies that have a lasting impact, avoiding quick-fix, fear-based ‘marketing hacks’ that might grab attention momentarily but won’t connect people with our cause for the long term.
Q: Could you tell us about a specific project or collaboration that stands out to you as a highlight of your career, and how it has contributed to your sense of purpose as a freelancer?
One of the projects I loved working on the most was conducting user interviews with the Animal Advocacy Careers’ audience. As a meta-charity focused on helping other charities be more effective by attracting talented individuals to the movement, it is hard to see the practical impact we have sometimes. It’s not as direct as things like having a sanctuary and seeing the animals that we help every day.
Talking with AAC’s users has given me a clearer picture of the impact we’re making by inspiring individuals to join the animal advocacy field. I’ve also heard some success stories from people who, like me, struggled to find their place in this cause but found their way with our help.
Q: Inspiration can come from various sources. Is there a particular book, podcast, or resource that has profoundly impacted your professional journey, and how has it influenced your work as a freelancer?
- Self made millenial: I watched a lot of Madeline Mann’s videos when looking and applying for animal advocacy jobs. Her job search tips are amazing to make sure you standout in any hiring process and it definitely helped me get to where I am now.
- Before I joined AAC, I was already doing their Introduction to Animal Advocacy online course. It’s a must for anyone who is considering to work in animal advocacy!
- My friend Claudia Guerreiro has been an inspiration for my ethical marketing approach. She talks a lot about conscious marketing on her LinkedIn profile.
- On a personal side, I love the podcast The Psychology of Your 20s. It helps me to keep my mental health in check to be able to do the best in my work.
Q: As a freelancer dedicated to making a positive impact, what do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of your work, and how do you stay motivated to pursue your mission?
The most fulfilling parts come when I witness the concrete impact of my work. For example, reading testimonials from individuals I’ve assisted or observed how our efforts at AAC have inspired people to pursue animal advocacy jobs.
I also really enjoy looking at the impact reports of other organisations. It’s a way to know that the work we’re doing is helping them achieve their goals.
Q: In the ever-evolving world of freelancing, there are valuable lessons to be learned. What advice would you offer to other freelancers who want to create a meaningful impact through their work and align their careers with their personal values?
Don’t trust the little ‘imposter syndrome’ voice in your head. One of the most important things I learned is that a lot of people, especially the most competent ones, don’t always have confidence in themselves. When I started working in animal advocacy, I spent a period of time very anxious about my counterfactual impact, i.e. “What if another person in my place would do a much better job, and thus have a higher impact for animals? Then I’m actually not doing something good to the world, but doing something bad because I’m not giving a place to that person”. I already had a bit of insecurities around my work and it only increased with the weight of actually having an impact (the amazing sense of meaning might come with some side effects!).
So if you want to help improve the world, and you’re working on your personal development and doing the best you can to create quality work, just believe in yourself and don’t let your imposter syndrome make you miss amazing opportunities. There are so many things going wrong in the world and your help is very much needed!
Connect with Ana on LinkedIn and stay up to date with the amazing work she and the team at Animal Advocacy Careers are doing by visiting their website and following them on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.