Internships & Fellowships

Internships at the National Museum of African American History and Culture offer college and graduate students and recent graduates opportunities to work closely with professionals and scholars in the museum field. The museum provides a dynamic learning environment and access to supportive mentors that help interns reach their educational and professional goals. Interns can gain practical museum skills and program development experience in a variety of positions from education to collections to public relations.

When applying via SOLAA, please mention the specific opportunity that interests you in your application essay. Learn about the application process. Some internships offer stipends, those that offer stipends will state it in the details in the opportunities tab below. 

Robert Frederick Smith internship applications are due by February 15, 2019.

General NMAAHC Summer 2019 internship applications are due by March 15, 2019.

Summer 2019 applications are due by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2019.

The Robert Frederick Smith Fund for the Digitization and Curation of African American History will support three internships at the Museum for Summer 2019. The Museum offers these internships to increase participation of groups who are underrepresented in the museum field. The program provides individuals opportunities to learn more about the museum field through direct experience in internship projects under the mentorship of Museum staff. Individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Robert Frederick Smith internships are 12 weeks (35-40 hours per week) and paid a stipend of $600 per week. An additional housing and transportation stipend of $150 per week is available based on need. Please note emails confirming receipt of completed applications are not sent for onsite applications.

Learn more about the Robert Frederick Smith Internship Program benefits as well as offsite opportunities.

Special instructions: When applying in the Smithsonian online application system, you may only select one position of interest (Community Curation or Digitization). Applications submitted without a selection will not be considered.

Community Curation

Funded by the Robert F. Smith Fund at the Museum, the Community Curation Project (CCP) provides digitization services to individuals and institutions throughout the United States.  Participants register to have their family items or organizational records digitized during a two-week long period in a particular region or city. Attendees are able to process photographs, manuscript material, archives, VHS tapes, audio cassettes, and film. The CCP is a service of preservation and access to collections representing African American history around the country. The intern will be expected to travel to and work at the CCP event during the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) conference August 7-10, 2019 at Jackson State University, and the CCP in Chicago, August 19-30, 2019.  All expenses will be paid. 

Sample of Intern Duties:

  • Research and review collections housed at CCP sites selected for digitization
  • Collaborate with curators and local planning groups to develop engaging public programs during the CCP events
  • Maintain email and telephone correspondence with CCP collaborators about the upcoming CCP in Chicago and/or other sites
  • Collaborate with NMAAHC Office of Public Relations regarding CCP marketing, tracking social media impact, drafting press releases, and proposing additional advertisement strategies
  • Organize local media events during CCPs
  • Represent the Museum through managing email and other correspondence with CCP clients during CCP events
  • Interact with members of the community in CCP cities who have registered for digitizing appointments
  • Attend CCP meetings in Jackson, MS and Chicago
  • Attend at least one week of the Community Curation events in Jackson, MS and Chicago in August 2019

Learning Outcomes:

  • Professional collaboration and communication skills
  • Project management and prioritization skills
  • Development and management of public programs for museums and cultural centers
  • Writing skills related to public affairs
  • Learn regional histories of African American culture
  • Digital imaging and content management skills
  • Digital asset management skills
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office software products
  • Learn social media strategies

Time Frame (flexible): June 3 - August 10, 2019. Timing may be adjusted to accommodate CCP event later in August.

Work Culture: The work culture will be fast-paced and include a reasonable amount of travel. The intern will need to work collaboratively with other departments at the Museum, including the Office of Public Affairs and Office Curatorial Affairs. The intern will need to know that he/she will enter political environments in other regions and cities, and will need to learn how to manage those situations.  The applicant should have strong oral and written communication skills and be able to work well in a fast-paced environment in both group settings and on his or her own.

Prerequisites: Interest or background in African American history and cultural studies. Prior experience in digitization is not required.

Digitization

Contribute significantly to the creation, management, and distribution of the Museum's digital image assets and gain a thorough understanding about the integration of digital assets into various Smithsonian databases. The selected intern will have the opportunity to enhance their digital skills, build a professional network, and pursue mentorships within the Smithsonian Institution while gaining skills in myriad fields. At the conclusion of the program, the intern will have completed a variety of projects that will enrich their portfolios, resumes, and understanding of initiatives undertaken at the Museum to further Smithsonian's Digitization Strategic Plan.

Sample of Intern Duties:

  • Train to use TMS (The Museum System) collection information system database
  • Utilize museum cataloging standards to work on collection records
  • Conduct research needed to create and enhance collection records
  • Create collection inventories
  • Train in object handling
  • Photograph flat objects (photographs, documents, posters, etc.)
  • Manage digital assets in multiple platforms (create, edit, manage metadata, and quality control of image files)
  • Attend team meetings
  • Research copyright of Museum objects
  • Write a collection story or blog post

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop a working knowledge of how to use TMS (The Museum System) collection information system database
  • Experience with collections information research and management
  • Direct experience handling objects
  • Digital imaging and content management skills
  • Digital asset management skills
  • Gain an overview of copyright law and permissible uses of Museum collection images
  • Understand how to integrate digital assets into various computer systems

Time Frame (flexible): Early June start date

Work Culture: The Digitization Team is a highly collaborative, team-oriented group focused on making images and information about collection objects available for use by Museum staff and external partners. The applicant should have strong oral and written communication skills and be able to work well in a fast-paced environment in both group settings and on his or her own.

Prerequisites: A demonstrated interest or background in African American history and/or cultural studies, attention to detail, and strong writing skills. Prior experience in digitization is not required.

Music and Performing Arts Graduate Internship

Intern will be mentored by the Curator of Music and Performing Arts in collections acquisition and processing, object documentation, research and writing.  Primary responsibilities include object research, drafting object acquisition proposals, exhibition maintenance, assisting the Curator with research and writing for a book on the material culture of African American music, working with NMAAHC’s archivist in processing music-related archives, content development for digital media platforms and providing support for the museum’s Smithsonian Year of Music. The intern will also be invited to take part in meetings with the Curator of Music and Performing Arts and other museum staff.  Other projects may be assigned as necessary   The ideal candidate will be a graduate student with a scholarly background in African American music and strong research and writing skills.  The ability to read music and familiarity with Microsoft Office, particularly Excel, is a plus.

Internship experiences:

  • Train to use TMS (The Museum System) collection information system database
  • Conduct research needed to enhance collection records
  • Draft object acquisition proposals
  • Create collection inventories
  • Draft and edit texts relating to collections and exhibitions
  • Update content for exhibition digital interactive
  • Gain experience with writing interpretive material for general audiences
  • Learn best practices for object handling and exhibition maintenance
  • Write photo captions, collection stories or blog posts
  • Support communications regarding potential object donations and collection inquiries
  • Attend team meetings

Center for the Study of Global Slavery Internship

The Center for the Study of Global Slavery (CSGS) is an outward facing center that is built upon collaboration and dedicated to revealing the scope and the impact of slavery as well as recognizing the resilience of people of African descent throughout the African diaspora in resistance to slavery. It is the purpose of CSGS to leverage the power of NMAAHC not just nationally but on a global scale. The Center provides an understanding of slavery as shared human history beyond region nation and race and as something relevant to understanding our local communities and global societies in the 21st century.  It is comprised of multiple interconnected initiatives, each of which is committed to fashioning hope even while emphasizing slavery’s history of catastrophe and despair.

Internship experiences:

  • Supporting center's two major international collaborative initiatives: the Slave Wrecks Project and the Global Curatorial Project
  • Assist with content research for exhibitions in development including research on objects, images and archives
  • Developing press ready material for web, social media and print based sources
  • Assess and inventory the media holdings of the project and begin to make recommendations and craft about media projects

Black Architects and Designers Research Internship

This is a research and collections development project focused on black architects and designers. The intern will be responsible for assisting the curator with research, outreach, correspondence, reports, presentations, and writing related to the history of black architects and architects in current practice. The goal of the project is to support a collecting initiative and publications project that encompasses historical and contemporary examples of the work of black architects and designers. The student can expect to learn about approaches to research, the collections research and accessioning process, publications development, and the activities of the professional community of scholars, curators, and practitioners involved and interest in the work of black architects and designers. The student will be able to attend meetings related to the project, as well as general curatorial department meetings to learn about the day-to-day work of a museum staff. The student will gain knowledge in the specific research area, as well as more broadly in African American studies.

Internship experiences:

  • Create and organize research via spreadsheets, curatorial binders, electronic and hard copy files
  • Identifying, retrieving, and reading books, articles, interlibrary loan items
  • Correspondence and outreach (phone, email)  related to research project
  • Meetings within curatorial department
  • Drafting object lists for collections and publications project and tracking status
  • Site visits to architect's studios/offices, exhibitions, collections, archives related to research topic

Slavery and Freedom Internship

The Slavery and Freedom internship will provide opportunities for interns to learn a cross-section of curatorial skills including exhibition development, social media and digital content design, archive development, collections research and public engagement. The intern will work with the Curator of American Slavery and the Curatorial Assistant. The intern will attend regularly scheduled meetings and will be a fully integrated member of the Slavery and Freedom curatorial team.The intern will be mentored and will have opportunities to creatively think through tasks and propose ideas.

Internship experiences:

  • Assist curator with organizing the archival materials regarding Slavery and Freedom exhibition development
  • Provide assistance with object and exhibition research and organization
  • Research and compile a list of collecting leads
  • Develop social media content and a content schedule
  • Assist with development of Slavery and Freedom online exhibition

James Baldwin House and Language Research Internship

In line with the intern's educational and career pursuits, the internship will provide the opportunity for the intern to learn about curatorial department operations and specific curatorial practices, such as the dynamics of curatorial teams and their collaborative work with IT, Education, Public Relations, Advancement, and Digitization. The intern will also learn about the role and value of collections in documenting history and engaging visitors and about historical research methods associated with objects and topics.
 
Internship experiences: 

  • Research objects related to collections and upcoming exhibitions
  • Assist with two special projects—the Virtual James Baldwin House and the Language Usage Manual

CAAMA Internship

The intern will assist in research and organization for an upcoming exhibit on film posters for the changing exhibition space in the Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA). CAAMA is dedicated to collecting and showcasing photography, film, video, and audio recordings as a prism to explore African American history and culture. The exhibition, slated to open in November 2019, is still being developed. It will explore the history and art of African American film posters and ephemera ranging from the early 1900s through today. By assisting with this show, the intern will learn about basic curatorial work including exhibition development, research, writing, and installation. Knowledge or coursework in the history of early 20th-century art, African American cinema, and/or African American history is preferred.
 
Internship experiences:

  • Assemble reference materials
  • Conduct research on selected topics
  • Establish and update research files
  • Maintain and/or create image files, bibliographies, and chronologies
  • Draft exhibition text
  • Draft digital content for blogs, newsletters, etc.
  • Perform administrative tasks relating to the exhibition
  • Aid with storage and care of the permanent collection as needed

Membership Internship

The Membership Intern will work with the Membership Team on marketing and engagement activities through print, web-based, email, and in-person communications, including direct mail, e-news, letters, and intermittent events. The outcome will be to increase revenue to the Museum. The intern will gain insight into the inner workings of the Office of Advancement in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. They will develop verbal, written, and professional skills and understand the advancement strategies for large-scale non-profits. Start date is flexible.

Internship experiences: 

  • Produce appropriate replies to member inquiries
  • Contribute to monthly e-news letter by identifying creative ideas to promote the resources of the museum
  • Edit Excel spreadsheet data 
  • Monitor inventory of promotional materials to ensure stock
  • Attend staff meetings, depending on work schedule
  • Create or update webpages with training in Drupal CMS (no Drupal experience required)
  • Learn Advance database to maintain data integrity
  • Assist with photo research and permissions acquisition


Public Affairs Media Internship

This internship is located in the Office of Public Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It provides hands-on experience planning and executing various media strategies to promote the museum's priorities and responding the media inquiries.

Internship experiences:

  • Produce PowerPoint media reports on media events and success of media outreach with appropriate metrics defined by mentor
  • Manage system for issuing media passes on behalf of OPA 
  • Assist with media memo compilation and support in staffing of media interview with curators
  • Direct research for projects, initiative, and rapid response issues
  • Assist in writing of press release and other media collateral for media outreach
  • Assist Social Media team as needed

Social Media Internship

The Social Media Intern supports the Office of Public Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The intern will gain valuable experiences in the areas of communications, digital marketing, and social media content creation at a large cultural institution supported by the federal government. When completed, the intern will have an understanding and readiness for an entry-level role at any fast-paced public relation firms, governmental office or nonprofit organization. The Social Media interns will develop verbal, written, oral and professional skills as well as a basic understanding of what makes compelling digital content. This internship offers a stipend. 

Internship experiences:

  • Create new content and research relevant content to publish to NMAAHC Blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts
  • Research and implement new creative strategies for expanding social media reach
  • Attend NMAAHC events to develop content for blog & other social media platforms
  • Assist with monitoring and reporting on the success of social media initiatives
  • Interact with museum audiences across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat
  • Chart which topics generate the most engagement by conducting a/b testing
  • Produce writing and multimedia products that meet the high-quality standards of the Smithsonian Institution
  • Interface effectively with many kinds of Museum staff including curators, educators, exhibition designers, and others
  • Think strategically about museum messages and educational approaches

Social Media Strategy Internship

This graduate-level position will be mentored by the Manager of Social Media and Digital Engagement. The successful candidate will assist with the creation of a social media strategy for an upcoming high profile media event. The social media strategy internship offers a resume building experience in marketing and communications, influencer relationship management, and other aspects of community relations, social media, and the cultural sector. The intern must be self-motivated, organized, a problem solver and independent thinker in addition to having strong communication skills. This internship offers a stipend. 

Internship experiences:

  • Collaborate with Digital Engagement team to refine social media strategy and best practices
  • Consult with all divisions of the NMAAHC brand to explore and pinpoint ways to integrate social media into business strategies and marketing campaigns
  • Collaborate with internal departments on projects and assignments
  • Participate in a fast-paced team environment, handle multiple tasks and make recommendations to clients for future projects
  • Assist with announcing press releases, news articles, and other marketing materials about NMAAHC products, events, and other related news
  • Develop messages for social media audiences in alignment with strategic goals and the company’s brand identity
  • Be aware of and follow social media trends and apply them to account content when appropriate
  • Anticipate, research, evaluate, and analyze account needs to recommend and implement methods for effectively communicating to targeted audiences
  • Identify leaders and influencers (internal/external) and engage them in brand activities
  • Prepare weekly updates and reports to track growth and success rates of campaigns
  • Assist with website copywriting, proofing, and updating as needed

Graphic Design Internship

This internship is located in the Office of Public Affairs at NMAAHC. It provides hands-on experience developing creative assets visually representing NMAAHC programs and initiatives across all communications channels including print, social media web and in-house graphics. Regular responsibilities include the ideation, planning, design and production of advertising, branding and marketing products for NMAAHC including, but not limited to: special event programs and flyers, marketing and promotional assets for social media, signage, advertisements, publications, infographics, brochures, multimedia, photo and video presentations.

Internship experiences: 

  • Working closely with a team of staff and volunteers to translate messaging concepts into engaging marketing materials.
  • Designing clear, engaging and compelling print and online graphic products including advertisements (print, online, social media), signage, posters, flyers, and other marketing materials.
  • Build graphic design skills
  • Learn principles of advertising, branding and marketing
  • Develop project management skills
  • Writing advertisement and marketing copy
  • Graphic asset archive management
  • Photo and video archive management

Research Assistant Intern

The Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) focuses its work on the diversification and professional development of the museum workforce as well as provide support and resources to build organizational capacity among its sister institutions to sustain and grow African American and African diaspora organizations who also share and preserve African American history and culture. African American and African Diaspora institutions served by OSP include art, history, culture, libraries, archives, historic sites and, Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Seeking a Research Assistant Intern to assist in a feasibility study focused on the history, trends and critical issues facing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Intern will research HBCU foundational history, institutional issues and trends, with a primary focus on the subset of HBCU campuses with museums, archives-libraries and/or heritage sites. The ideal candidate will have some knowledge and/or awareness of HBCUs, a strong background in research, excellent writing and communication skills. The intern will contribute to the knowledge base of the foundation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, their campus museums, libraries-archives and heritage sites with an eye towards understanding the relevance of these institutions and fortifying its longevity.

Internship experiences:

  • Prepare an inventory list of Historically Black Colleges with campus museums, galleries, historic libraries-archives, and/or heritage sites.
  • Develop a comprehensive accounting of all viable Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • Identify programs and initiatives that involve HBCU cultural heritage sites.
  • Conduct research within the National Museum of African American History and Culture to understand representation of HBCUs as displayed within the museum and its online resources to identify programmatic themes.
  • Research HBCU cultural partnerships, programs and initiatives.
  • Contact museums and historical sites for data collection purposes.

HBCU Research Assistant Internship

The Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) focuses its work on the diversification and professional development of the museum workforce as well as provide support and resources to build organizational capacity among its sister institutions to sustain and grow African American and African diaspora organizations who also share and preserve African American history and culture. African American and African Diaspora institutions served by OSP include art, history, culture, libraries, archives, historic sites and, Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Seeking a Research Assistant Intern to assist in a feasibility study focused on the history, trends and critical issues facing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Intern will research HBCU foundational history, institutional issues and trends, with a primary focus on the subset of HBCU campuses with museums, archives-libraries and/or heritage sites. The ideal candidate will have some knowledge and/or awareness of HBCUs, a strong background in research, excellent writing and communication skills. The intern will contribute to the knowledge base of the foundation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, their campus museums, libraries-archives and heritage sites with an eye towards understanding the relevance of these institutions and fortifying its longevity.

Internship experiences:

  • Prepare an inventory list of Historically Black Colleges with campus museums, galleries, historic libraries-archives, and/or heritage sites
  • Develop a comprehensive accounting of all viable Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Identify programs and initiatives that involve HBCU cultural heritage sites
  • Conduct research within the National Museum of African American History and Culture to understand representation of HBCUs as displayed within the museum and its online resources to identify programmatic themes
  • Research HBCU cultural partnerships, programs and initiatives
  • Contact museums and historical sites for data collection purposes

Future of Museums Research Assistant Internship

The Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) focuses its work on the diversification and professional development of the museum workforce as well as provide support and resources to build organizational capacity among its sister institutions to sustain and grow African American and African diaspora organizations who also share and preserve African American history and culture. African American and African Diaspora institutions served by OSP include art, history, culture, libraries, archives, historic sites and, Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Seeking a Research Assistant to assist in a feasibility study focused on the future of museums. The intern would research existing literature and assess programs focused on forecasting for museum practice, relevance and its role within communities. The intern will investigate current notions of forecasting, the futurist professional field, scholars focused on futuristic ways of thinking and the Afro futurism philosophy and its connections existing and/or potential to the work of museums.

Internship experiences:

  • Research concepts of museums in the future and forecasting
  • Research funded initiatives identifying programs reflecting innovation
  • Identify programs and initiatives cited as representations of future trends in museums
  • Explore the Afrofuturist discipline and intersections with museum practice
  • Contact museums and historical sites for data collection purposes

Theater Operations Internship

This internship provides an opportunity for hands-on experience with stage management and audio visual technical operations including: basic AV,  theatrical lighting, live audio engineering, video capture, editing, and playback.  The intern will also learn about live webcasting and video production in addition to digital and film cinema projection. Evenings and weekends required.

Internship experiences: 

  • Stage management
  • Stage operations
  • AV operation
  • Lighting operation and design
  • Audio engineering and live sound reinforcement
  • Video production and playback
  • Digital cinema operation
  • Motion picture film handling and projection

Can I apply to more than one internship and/or fellowship?

Yes! In fact, we encourage you to do so!

How does the general internship pool work?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis as opportunities become available. Please know that if an internship does not become available that fits your interests and timeframe, you will not be contacted. If you have a specific interest, you are encouraged to apply for a specific appointment as well.

How competitive are Smithsonian internships and fellowships?

Smithsonian internships and fellowships are very competitive; the Smithsonian receives thousands of applications each year—but don’t let that discourage you from applying. We work to make sure Smithsonian internships are prestigious, but not exclusive.

How long should it take to find out if I received an internship or fellowship?

How long until you receive a response depends on a lot of things: which internship you applied for, the time of year, as well as how many other applicants there are. As a result, it is difficult to say how long it will take to receive a response.

Intern at NMAAHC

You must apply for all Smithsonian internships through the Smithsonian online academic appoint system.