Dream Job: Angela Smith, Marketing Manager -The Humane Society of Missouri

Meet Angela

angela smith

Marketing Manager for The Humane Society of Missouri

Do you love to solve problems? Where others are deflated or distracted by problems you feel energized to take action. You enjoy analyzing evidence, identifying key factors, and creating a solution. Your strength is being restorative and because of your intervention, you able to save and resuscitate the problems you see.

You can’t help but feel at ease when around Angela. Her sharp wit will make you laugh and her ability to make quick, informed decisions will leave you wondering why you hadn’t seen it all along. Her ability to think practically and feel empathetically is a powerful combo that allows her to share her rare point of view.

If fixing problems comes naturally to you, you may find a career in facing the hard issues highly rewarding. Read on to see how Angela found a career that suited her strategic thought process and her love for animals.

What does the phrase “Dream Job” mean to you. 

For me, a “dream job” is a place I feel good about spending 40+ hours a week. There’s creative freedom, passionate people, good leadership, and growth opportunities. The work I do also has to make a positive impact on the community, or I honestly cannot sleep at night.

The Humane Society of Missouri is that “dream job” for me. It’s been around for 146 years. That’s 1,022 dog years! We operate three animal shelters, three veterinary clinics, a ranch for abused horses and farm animals, and we have a statewide animal cruelty task force that is on call 24/7, 365. It’s a huge undertaking, and the people who work for the Humane Society put all of themselves into making a better life for animals in need.

What’s your title? What do you do? How long have you done this?

Marketing Manager for the Humane Society of Missouri. This is my sixth year with the organization, which is the longest I’ve ever committed to anything in my life. As Marketing Manager, I help get the message out about the Humane Society of Missouri’s many incredible resources in St. Louis and beyond. It’s part account manager/digital strategist/copywriter/event coordinator/media spokesperson/kitten cuddler. That last part’s pretty great. Actually, it’s all pretty great.

angela with cat

What jobs or past experiences have led you to the current thing that pays you money (your job)?

After college, I interned and was hired on at Fleishman-Hillard, a global PR agency headquartered in St. Louis. It was an excellent first job, and I’m positive having Fleishman on my resume got me the interview at the Humane Society. Non-profits like to hire agency people, and with good reason. I was used to a fast-paced environment with tight deadlines and challenging projects, and I think the Humane Society saw that and knew I’d work hard for them and bring in some industry knowledge.

What occupation did you imagine having when you were 5? What about at 25?

I have a distinct memory of being 7 years old, playing charades with my Girl Scout Troop. We were supposed to act out what we wanted to be when we grew up. All of the girls pretended to be moms or teachers. Both fine. It got to me, and everyone was stumped. I picked lawyer. The troop leader finally let me say “My client is not guilty, your honor!” so the other girls would get it. That was the day I broke charades. And the Girl Scout Glass Ceiling.

Going into college, I wanted to be a television writer. I’d done a high school program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and thought for sure that I’d be moving to Manhattan that fall to write the next Seinfeld. Maybe I would have, if NYU had accepted me for undergrad. That rejection made me rethink the whole “writing for a living” thing, and I stumbled through majors like biology and anthropology before finding a fit in public relations and advertising.

The Best: Tell us, what’s the best part of your job?

Working in animal welfare is fascinating and rewarding. The best part is being able to use my skill set to make a better life for homeless, abused and neglected animals. Some days, I can’t believe I get to pay my bills doing something that means so much to me. I’m very grateful. Also, I get to bring my dog to work every day. That’s a perk.

There’s a lot of variety to my job, and that’s one of the best parts, too. One day I might be at a hoarder house, documenting our Animal Cruelty Task Force rescuing 180 cats. The next, I’m on TV with a llama talking about a spring promotion. And sometimes, my “other duties as assigned” might have me warming newborn puppies under my shirt to get their internal body temperature stabilized, because we just rescued a litter of ten from an abandoned building and they need help.

Ultimately, what makes my job the “dream job” is my boss and the other people in my department. A good boss is everything. Mine gives us so much freedom to be creative, to try new things, to take risks – and they usually pay off. So many of our successful adoption promotions and event ideas were born from one of us barging into our boss’s office, rambling off something like “What if we took puppies around town to visit people on Valentine’s Day?? We could call it a Puppy Gram!” And then my boss will say “Ok. Talk to everyone who would be involved and troubleshoot it. Let’s see if we can make it happen.”    

cat magazine

The Stink: Tell us, what’s part of the job that you really wish were different? 

Seeing animal abuse up close. You never get used to it. I never want to get used to it. Some people tease me because to them, my job looks like it’s kittens and puppies and rainbows all day. The sad reality is, we respond to abuse calls constantly. Some are horrific and make you hate the world and everyone in it. I’ve had to photograph dogs that had boiling water thrown on them. Dogs that were dragged behind cars. Animals thrown away with the garbage, still very much alive. As a person with so much empathy for animals, it’s a nightmare for me. Unfortunately, animal protection laws in Missouri are weak, so the penalties for animal cruelty are nowhere near strong enough. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating. But I see our Animal Cruelty Task Force, our vet team, our animal care staff, all coming together to help these poor animals. They’re really the best of humanity, and animal abusers are the worst.

angela on camera with cats

Outside of your job, how do you spend your time?  

I’m a writer and producer for Sketchpad Comedy – a monthly sketch comedy show happening right here in St. Louis. We also have a podcast, Welcome Thru Effingham, which I write and perform on. There’s a lot of great stuff happening in the St. Louis independent comedy scene, and I’m just happy to participate in its growth in some small way.

Who is someone you look up to for career inspiration?

I definitely look up to my boss, and not just because I’d love to have her job someday (after she retires, which I’ve already begged her not to do. Ever.) She’s so good at managing her department, and she sets the example for us by being ready and willing to do whatever task is needed of her. I feel like she’s created a very positive and collaborative workplace culture.

I also look up to the President of our organization. She has made so much happen for the Humane Society of Missouri. Before her, there was no Longmeadow Rescue Ranch. There was no Chesterfield Valley location. So many more animals have been helped because of her vision. She continues to move the organization forward, and that’s one of the many reasons I’m proud to work here.

angela smith puppy bowl

What is your advice to people who are interested in a similar career?

Get really good at something that will benefit the organization you want to work for. People think that just because they love animals, that makes them qualified to work in animal welfare. It’s definitely a plus, but you have to offer more than that. If you’re able to get on somewhere, keep learning. Network with industry people. Stay on top of trends. Always try to add value to the organization.

Know that the job will break your heart a thousand times. Don’t ever let that make you care less. Compassion fatigue is very real in this sector, so have a support system in place to navigate the tough times. Don’t ever become one of those people who talks about how much they hate humans and animals are superior. It’s not that I haven’t thought that a few times, but people can be amazing. And you need those people to adopt the animals you’ve put so much of your heart into.

Any other passing words of advice or anything neat you have going on that you would like to share with us?

Spay or neuter your pets! It’s the only solution to ending pet overpopulation. Also, if you witness animal abuse or neglect, you can call 314-647-4400 or report abuse at hsmo.org/reportabuse. You can do it anonymously. It’s free. But we can’t help an animal that we don’t know about. Finally, we’re always in need of dedicated volunteers. You can learn more about those opportunities at hsmo.org/volunteer.

Work Theory is a website designed around the idea that humans should have access to jobs that they enjoy and can make a living doing. The Dream Job series gives us a glimpse into the lives of people who have managed to achieve consistent satisfaction and happiness in their career. The jobs they work are as diverse as the lives led by these individuals. “Like” Work Theory on Facebook to remain a part of the story.

If you, or someone you know is living their dream job and are interested in being interviewed, please contact Annie here.