Interning with a humanist organisation

At the beginning of the year I spent three months volunteering at the British Humanist Association (BHA) as a part-time intern. The internship consisted of helping the campaigns team as a campaigns assistant, as well as helping with events and other tasks. I thought it might be useful to share my experiences and explain how it came about for anyone else who is curious or interested in working for a humanist organisation.

How did it come about?

I had just submitted my PhD and was thinking of approaching the BHA when my friend spotted that they were advertising for a part-time three month Campaigns Assistant internship. I prepared a CV and cover letter detailing my previous involvement with humanism (e.g. university societies) and explaining how much I would love to work for a humanist organisation. A couple of good friends read it over for me and made suggestions, then I sent it in and hoped it would be successful. A few weeks later, I received a phone call asking me if I would like to come to London for an interview. At the interview itself, I was asked a bit about myself, my skills and my interest in humanism. It was all quite friendly and pleasant but I was still quite nervous. Later, they phoned to offer me the position and I was delighted to accept.

What did it involve?

Assisting the campaigns team meant that I got to be at the heart of the campaigning work and see exactly what was involved. Part of my work involved monitoring press as well as keeping track of consultations and legislation in parliament. I helped research topics, prepare briefings and handle correspondence. That said, there were also plenty of other more mundane tasks that needed to be done. I also set my hand to some good old-fashioned envelope stuffing, photocopying, data entry, proof reading and sending out requested materials. Because the number of staff at the BHA is relatively small I was able to meet staff working in ceremonies and hear about their work too. Another perk was helping with the public lectures hosted by the BHA such as the Darwin Day Lecture. I had the opportunity to hear talks by Daniel Dennett, Kenan Malik and David King chaired by BHA president Polly Toynebee or vice president Richard Dawkins.

What did I get from it?

All in all, this has been a great experience. I learned lots about the BHA and helped a cause that is very important to me. It’s given me experience of working as part of a team in an office environment and it helped keep me sane while I was working on the corrections for my thesis. I would recommend it to anyone who is passionate about humanism and interested in working in a humanist organisation and making a contribution. If this appeals to you then I encourage you to prepare your CV, write a cover letter and get in touch with some of your favourite organisations. They might not be able to offer you an internship but there may well be a need for regular volunteers. Don’t forget that local groups nearly always need committed people to keep them up and running and invigorated. The best way to create the kind of humanist community that you’d like to see is to get involved and make it happen!

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