If you’re a student member of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), you should have received an email last week from Charlie Haws and myself announcing a bunch of openings with the Student Advisory Board (SAB). I’m the current chair of the board and I’d like to take the opportunity to spread the news as far and wide as my small little internet hamlet provides (probably not that far). In any case, folks, if you’re a grad student who is motivated, active, diligent, service-oriented, professional, and other super-amazing qualities, please consider applying. However, if you’re merely looking for a good line on your CV that you can simply blow off or forget about, I would kindly request that you do not apply. Thanks in advance for that.
The truth is that SAB service can sometimes be exhausting. Our previous board worked very hard on a number of initiatives, including much ado about the SBL policy on student presentations, as well as a number of other issues big and small. Many of these issues could be quite draining at times. The Board (which started as a “Group”) has evolved over the years and we have reached a point in which we are ready to restructure and significantly expand. We need a strong team to make it through the next phase, which is why we need members who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get working. A fellow Board member should be ready to help pick up the slack when necessary.
That said, service on SAB really is rewarding. After much hard work, for example, the most controversial piece of the policy on student presentations (requiring a full paper at the time of proposal submission) was reversed. Many Board members also saw a number of successes on their individual projects and in their own regional meetings. Serving on SAB allows the opportunity to organize and preside over panels at the national meeting, giving you a reason to make important connections with faculty members and fellow students. These positions also show potential employers your skills and interest in doing organizational service work, which may be quite valuable for both traditional faculty positions as well as “alternative career” positions. If you make the most of it, the position will repay you.
So, if you’d like to apply, here’s the email that went out:
We write, therefore, to inform you that the Society’s Student Advisory Board is now accepting applications and nominations for several voting-member positions, including: Vice Chair, Secretary, Communications and Technology Officer, Network Coordinator (International), Network Coordinator (Regional Representatives), Network Coordinator (On-Campus Student Representatives), and two Members-at-large. SBL student members interested in serving on the board should submit an application by filling out this form and submitting it to SBL’s Associate Director of Programs Charlie Haws at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAB members seek to foster and celebrate the success of student members and advocate for student concerns in the SBL. Serving as a volunteer on the SAB provides an excellent opportunity for graduate students to develop professionally and establish connections with the wider academic community.
The ideal candidates for these positions will be active and diligent student leaders, passionate about graduate student concerns, and professional in their communications (e.g., have ability to navigate academic etiquette with a variety of scholars, never let a professional email go unanswered). Candidates will also preferably have experience in academic networking on a variety of online social media platforms. For further details, please see the descriptions of each position in this document. Women, minorities, and students from a variety of institutional contexts are strongly encouraged to apply. Please note that you should be able to commit to a first term of three years.
The initial email did not mention this, but please also send a cover letter and CV for the positions to which you are applying, along with your application, to Charlie’s email address. Note: we’ve already received quite a lot of applications. Your cover letter and CV are what will set you apart! Tell us about your relevant skills, how they have been honed in real situations, what interests you most about the positions to which you’re applying, your level of involvement in SBL or similar organizations, etc., and demonstrate your professionalism for us.
By the way, some have reported that the selection of primary and secondary positions doesn’t work for them on the application form. If that’s the case for you, please indicate your preferences in the cover letter itself. Also, the webpage for SAB on the SBL website is outdated. We’ll get that thing updated some time soon and our new Communications and Technology Officer will help keep us up-to-date and make it more functional for us.
Let me know if you have questions and I look forward to hearing from you!