How To Find Leadership Opportunities at the National Level
Many college students are looking for ways to get more involved with the atheist movement beyond their local college campus. A great way to do this is to get involved with larger, national organizations. Many organizations in cluding the SSA, Foundation Beyond Belief, American Atheists, Center for Inquiry, American Humanist Association, and more offer various ways to get involved such as volunteering, internships, being on a Board of Directors, or even job openings.
To first get your foot in the door, so to speak, then you may need some kind of relationship with a national organization that you are looking to help out in some way. One way you may already have done this is by being involved with a student organization that is affiliated with SSA and/or CFI. These two organizations often look to student leaders in their affiliated groups when looking to fill volunteering opportunities, internships, and careers. If you have interacted with a local, off-campus atheist group then chances are high that they might be affiliated with groups such as the American Humanist Assocation (AHA) or American Atheists (AA). Working with these local groups may give you an opportunity to get involved with the larger organizations. Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) will also affiliate with many different groups, including both student groups and off-campus groups.
If these routes are unavailable to you, or if you are also looking for other ways, then there are a few other resources out there for you. SSA keeps an updated page on open jobs from all over the movement that can be found at www.secularstudents.org/jobs. Other webpages you can check would include the jobs/careers pages on individual organization websites. Also stay tuned to email and Facebook updates from national organizations, oftentimes they will announce opportunities via those routes as well.
The SSA offers at least one internship per year, CFI usually hires several yearly, and FBB also hired several this past year. Usually, internships range from 1 month to 6 months and are given some sort of stipend. This is a great way to get your name known to the bigger organizations and also a way to see if you would enjoy being involved in the movement at that level. Job opportunities are usually not too common in the movement, but there have been more and more in recent years as the movement has grown. If you are looking for a job in the movement and cannot find anything, you might just have to be patient because jobs will open up and become available. Another opportunity is to run for the Board of Directors of a national organization. The SSA has a 12-person Board that has open elections every year that anyone can run in after their nomination is approved by the organization. This is an unpaid position, but it looks great on a resume and gives you some first-hand management experience as well as experience in the movement.
Volunteering is an important way to put yourself out there and get involved also. Most organizations are always looking for volunteers at some point or another for projects they are working on. SSA gets volunteers for its conferences several times a year to help with many things such as driving speakers, manning a table, and setting up and tearing down equipment. Other national organizations also offer similar volunteering opportunities. These are not always publicly posted though, so if you are looking around, you might want to try emailing organizations you are interested in helping out to see if they need you.
Just remember, if you succeed at getting an internship or a volunteer position, make sure to stay in contact with the organization you worked with. Continue to work on and build that relationship so when another opportunity opens up in the movement, that organization can help you fill it or at least give you a good recommendation. Building contacts is always a great idea, make sure to always take advantage of such opportunities that present themselves.