Robert F. Smith Internship Program

Applications for Summer 2020 internships are now available and due by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2020.

Photo of Robert F. Smith Intern
Photo by Benjamin G. Sullivan for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Internships will provide guided learning experiences consisting of hands-on training, mentoring, attendance at educational events, and cultivation of contacts for the next generation of researchers, scholars, curators, and other museum, library, preservation, and heritage professionals – individuals who will assume the mantle of identifying, documenting, curating, and digitizing treasured artifacts that reflect African American history and culture.

Intern Benefits

  • $600 per week stipend to defray living expenses during the tenure of the appointment
  • Additional need-based housing and transportation stipends of $150 per week are available. Students qualify by selecting their need to pay rent during their term on the application.
  • Flexible start and end dates
  • Structured mentorship opportunities both within the Museum and with outside professionals
  • A calendar of professional development seminars catered to the needs of historically underrepresented individuals in the cultural sector
  • Paid registration and travel to attend the Association of African American Museums annual conference in Summer 2019
  • Paid professional memberships
  • Academic credit (not required)

Intern Eligibility

  • Undergraduate students (must have completed at least one year of study)
  • Graduate students
  • Recent graduates (up to 2 years out of school)
  • Career-changers in the cultural field less than 2 years
  • Applications from individuals who have had prior internships or fellowships with any unit of the Smithsonian Institution will not be considered.

Strongest consideration will be given to applicants with no more than 1-2 prior related work experiences. 


  • Internships are 12 weeks in the summer
  • 35-40 hours per week

Opportunities for Students and Organizations

Summer 2020 opportunities are available in Washington, DC; Tuskegee, AL; Daytona Beach, FL; Chicago, IL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Durham, NC; and Pittsburgh, PA. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on February 15, 2020.

Take a look at our informational webinar below, where we provide an overview of the program and step-by-step application instructions.


Please sign up for our e-mail list to be notified of future individual and organizational opportunities with the internship program.

For offsite internships

Summer 2020 positions

Digital Archiving and Outreach (pdf)
Amistad Research Center in New Orleans, Louisiana

Archives (pdf)
Apollo Theater in New York, NY

Oral History Transcription (pdf)
Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida

Processing and Digitization (pdf)
Chicago History Museum in Chicago, Illinois

Digital Processing, Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum (pdf)
Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Neighborhood Oral History (pdf)
Stagville State Historic Site in Durham, North Carolina

Archives (pdf)
Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama

All available offsite internship positions for Summer 2019 (pdf)


Download and fill out an application form (pdf) and submit along with the documents below as Word or PDF attachments to with the email subject: "<First Name_Last Name> - Internship Application 2020" by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2020.

  • Cover letter (no more than 2 pages) detailing your past and present academic history and other experiences which you feel have prepared you for this internship and an outline of what you hope to learn during this internship.
  • Resume
  • Unofficial transcript(s)
  • 2 academic and/or professional letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should be submitted by the intern applicant along with all other application materials.

Applications submitted as Google documents, links to files, or other cloud platform applications will not be considered.

Anticipated Summer 2020 Timeline

  • Applications accepted November 4, 2019 – February 15, 2020
  • Museum staff will confirm receipt of application materials via e-mail within 2 business days of submission. Applications submitted after February 12 will be acknowledged within 5 business days. Please contact us if you do not receive a confirmation.
  • Host organizations will review applications and conduct interviews February 15 – March 17, 2020
  • All applicants will be notified of their status by March 31, 2020

For onsite internships at NMAAHC

The application for Summer 2020 openings is now available for Robert F. Smith internships available at NMAAHC. Please search for “Robert Frederick Smith Internship Program” in the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointments Portal (SOLAA).

Please note that the application deadline for general NMAAHC internships is after the Robert Frederick Smith deadline of February 15.

Summer 2020 onsite positions

Digitization (pdf)

Learn about the application process for internships onsite at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

For offsite host organizations

Applications to host interns for Summer 2020 have closed. Please sign up for our e-mail list to be notified of future opportunities.

The offsite internships will occur over the summer for 12 weeks. Internships can be offered to students at the undergraduate (having completed at least one year of school) and graduate level as well as those working in the cultural field for less than 2 years. It is recommended that prospective interns have some background or interest in African American history and culture. Interns are expected to spend 35 to 40 hours a week engaged in work related to digitization projects of host organizations. Interns will receive place-based training and hands-on experience while building their personal networks, thereby providing emerging professionals with critical, marketable skills that support the launch of their careers.

Host organizations can request up to two interns. A meaningful stipend for each intern is provided for by the Museum. Additionally, organizations will receive $500 per intern to offset administrative expenses.


  • Project must directly relate to the study and preservation of African American History and Culture
  • Must have designated office space and supervisor
  • Nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status located in the United States or Caribbean
  • Must have at least 2 full-time, paid staff
  • Project must be focused on digital imaging, media preservation, digital preservation of personal and community objects, digital content management, collections information management, recording and preserving oral histories, or digital filmmaking


Download and fill out an application form (pdf) and submit as a Word or PDF attachment to with the e-mail subject: "Host Application 2020-Organization Name" by 11:59 p.m. September 15, 2019.

Applications submitted as Google documents, links to files, or other cloud platform applications will not be considered.

Review accepted Summer 2019 projects (pdf).

Anticipated Timeline for Summer 2020

  • Host applications accepted by NMAAHC until 11:59 p.m. September 15, 2019
  • Host application processing, review, and selection by NMAAHC through October 7, 2019
  • Host organizations notified of their status by October 7, 2019
  • Intern applications accepted by NMAAHC from December 2, 2019 until 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2020
  • NMAAHC processes applications and reviews intern applications for eligibility by February 21, 2020
  • NMAAHC sends eligible, complete internship applications to Host Organizations by February 21, 2020
  • Host Organization reviews applications and conducts interviews February 22 – March 17, 2020
  • Host Organization submits preferred choices to NMAAHC by March 18, 2020 for final approval and selection by NMAAHC
  • Interns will be notified of their final status by NMAAHC on or before March 31, 2020.

NOTE:  Host Organizations are not authorized to finalize intern selections prior to receiving NMAAHC approval. If NMAAHC rejects a Host Organization’s choice, the Host Organization may submit a substitute for consideration by NMAAHC.

The Museum also offers a fellowship program for more advanced applicants

To learn more about the Robert F. Smith Applied Public History Fellowship for HBCU Graduates,
visit our fellowship page.

Have questions about the Robert F. Smith Internship Program? Email or call 202-633-4511.