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Rising Stars: The Job of Making the World a Better Place

By Erdin Beshimov

Pulin is a PETA activist. And what is admirable and inspiring about his career is that it's dedicated to making our world a better place -- a place where people live in a kinder and more just society. Such a career is ultimately bigger than the notion of career itself. It's a calling.

Name: Pulin Modi
School: Vassar College
Major: Ecology of Social Change
Years Out of College: 5-10
Title: Senior Street Team Coordinator
Company: PETA
First Steps

My first job was for a group called the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance when I was in high school. It was a summer job out in the heat rallying local support for an initiative against a pending bear hunt. I enjoyed working with other compassionate people around my age and really feeling like I was making a difference. I started to think that while it's great to protect animals we can relate to (e.g., dogs and cats in our homes), the billions of animals abused for the clothing, experimentation, food, and entertainment industries deserve our consideration too. I realized that my next job would need to be just as meaningful in making an impact on some social justice issue affecting our society.

From Then to Now

I've been interested in animal rights (and human rights and environmentalism) since middle school. Videos like the one at are definitely eye-opening and life-changing.

My major, ecology of social change, focused on interlinking systems of injustice that lead to exploitation. As a student, I attended conferences and demonstrations and participated in other volunteer opportunities, so I learned a lot from experience in the field.

When I met a PETA employee while on my senior-year animal rights spring break trip, I knew I wanted to get more involved in this organization's groundbreaking and provocative mission.

I spent a lot of time on the road doing outreach for peta2 until July 2006, when I switched into an office-based track. The ability to take on projects and be behind the scenes has been a turning point for me at this organization.

Challenges Faced

Working for any nonprofit will obviously have the challenge of taking a lower salary and most likely working longer hours than a job at a regular company. My parents weren't (and still probably aren't) thrilled that I moved away from home either.

It's a daily struggle to present important issues to people who have been conditioned to see animals as a means to their own success. Nevertheless, it's rewarding to wake up every morning knowing that my work will make a difference to billions of animals suffering in puppy mills, laboratories, slaughterhouses, and so on. And the most exciting part for me is to explain to people how caring about animals is also a step in the direction of making the world a kinder place for everyone!

My Experience

My typical day is very atypical. I work with activists via our Street Team, write features for the blog and Web site, and work on our MySpace and Facebook presence. A great deal of my time is spent coordinating ways to act on timely issues, such as the Michael Vick dogfighting case or specific undercover investigations.

I enjoy the pace of my days, and it's a pleasure to be in such a work environment. In the span of just an hour, I may send out some "Vegetarian Starter Kits" and stickers to a high school student, meet with other staffers to coordinate a conference, and set up an online advocacy campaign.

It's inspiring to know that everyone can make a difference, whether it's by becoming vegetarian, adopting an animal from a shelter, or buying cruelty-free cosmetics. I love knowing that I can help individuals make such positive choices.

Next Steps

I am happy working for PETA. The peta2 program specifically is exciting, because I get to work with young people on animal rights issues. I realize I may not be able to relate to young people forever, so I'm very much open to and interested in working in other areas of our organization in the future, such as our departments that work on campaign strategies, investigations, and communications for and our other sites, like

Did I Ever Think I'd End Up Here?

Honestly, I did not think I'd end up working for PETA. I knew that I was interested in nonprofit work, but the idea of moving to Norfolk, Virginia, and being involved in such a provocative organization had me doubtful. When I really gave it a chance down here, first as an intern and later as a contract worker, I knew that this really was a good fit for the type of work environment I was looking for, and I would urge others to consider working here. With so many opportunities to use skills in everything from writing to campaigning to design and IT, PETA is a unique and exciting place to work. I enjoy seeing the diversity of people who are all working toward the common goal of helping animals.

Advice for Others

The best advice I have heard is to follow your passion. Factors like salary and geographical location are important to consider, but what good is that if you're spending 40 hours of your life in misery at work? If you step back and consider the state of the world and all the important issues to address, I think it becomes clear that we should all be grateful for what we have and should feel compelled to make strides to help others in our daily work.

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