The Smithsonian internships in the US represent a unique opportunity for students and professionals interested in the world of culture, science and research.
The Smithsonian Institution, a network of museums, galleries and research centres, offers internship programs in a variety of areas, allowing participants to immerse themselves in the fascinating world of art, history, archaeology and science.
If you’re passionate about one of these fields, then this is a great opportunity for you! Take a chance and find information about the best Internships, the desired profile, requirements and benefits.
What does “Smithsonian” mean?
The name “Smithsonian” refers to the legacy of James Smithson, a British scientist and philanthropist. In 1826, Smithson left in his will a considerable sum of money to create an institution “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men”.
Surprisingly, he never visited the United States, but his request laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution in 1846, making it one of the most important cultural and educational institutions in the world.
Top 5 Smithsonian Internships
National Air and Space Museum Internship
This internship is ideal for aviation and space exploration enthusiasts. Interns have the opportunity to work on projects related to historic aircraft preservation, space exploration research, and interactive exhibit development.
Internship at the National Museum of Natural History
If you have an interest in palaeontology, biology or nature conservation, this internship gives you the opportunity to work with experts in the field and contribute to natural science research. Interns can participate in archaeological excavations, species surveys, and scientific data analysis.
Internship at the National Museum of American Art
If you are passionate about American art and history, this internship is perfect for you. Participants work with curators and conservators in researching and cataloguing works of art, as well as assisting in the preparation of exhibitions and cultural events.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Internship
For those interested in tropical ecology and biology, this internship offers the opportunity to work on research related to biodiversity, conservation and environmental sustainability in the tropics. STRI conducts studies in Panama and other tropical regions, providing a unique experience in the field of scientific research.
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Internship
Those passionate about astronomy and astrophysics will find this internship an exciting opportunity to work alongside renowned scientists on research projects and observations of the universe. Interns can participate in astronomical data analysis, telescope operation, and science outreach.
You can find all the available programs for each Internship on the official website of the Smithsonian Office of Internship Programs.
Eligibility Requirements for Smithsonian Internships
These internships are highly competitive, and successful candidates typically have an outstanding academic and professional profile. While specific requirements may vary by program, in general, applicants are expected to meet the following criteria:
Academic Background: Most programs require candidates to be enrolled in an accredited educational institution or to have recently completed studies in areas related to the internship. Some programs may accept high school graduates, but it is more common to look for candidates with ongoing or completed university studies.
Knowledge and Skills: Depending on the internship, candidates must demonstrate specific skills in fields such as scientific research, conservation, graphic design, education, among others. Previous relevant experience, whether through academic projects, volunteering or employment, could be a determining factor.
English Language Proficiency: Since the Smithsonian Institution is located in the United States, English language proficiency is essential for effective communication with the team and participation in daily activities.
Letters of Recommendation: Most programs require letters of recommendation that support the candidate’s skills and abilities. These letters should come from professors, employers, or individuals related to the applicant’s academic or professional experience.
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Focus and Motivation: Candidates must demonstrate a clear understanding of the internship program’s objectives and activities, as well as a strong motivation to contribute and learn during the experience.
Most Wanted Careers
Smithsonian internships span a wide variety of disciplines, allowing those interested in different areas to find opportunities that match their interests and careers. The most sought-after careers for internship applicants include:
- Biological Sciences and Conservation: Biology, Ecology and Nature Conservation are popular areas due to the Smithsonian Museums’ reputation as leading centres for the study and preservation of biodiversity.
- Arts and Design: Internships at the National Museum of American Art are highly sought after by students and professionals in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Art History and Museology.
- Space Science and Astronomy: The internship at the National Air and Space Museum, as well as the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, attracts those interested in space exploration, astronomy and related sciences.
- Anthropology and Archaeology: The National Museum of Natural History and other Smithsonian museums offer internships for those interested in the study of past and present cultures, archaeology and anthropology.
- Science Education and Outreach: Education and outreach programs at the various Smithsonian museums attract students seeking experience in science education and science communication.
Benefits of Smithsonian Internships
These internships offer a number of benefits for participants that go beyond the academic and professional experience. Some of the main benefits include:
Cultural Immersion: Working at a cultural institution as important as the Smithsonian provides the opportunity to immerse oneself in a unique, multicultural environment, interacting with experts, colleagues, and visitors from diverse backgrounds and even countries.
Access to Resources: Interns have access to the extensive resources of the Smithsonian, including libraries, archives, laboratories, and collections, which significantly enriches their learning experience.
Networking: Internships provide the opportunity to establish valuable professional contacts in the field of interest, which can open doors for future career opportunities.
Practical Learning: Interns actively participate in real projects and work alongside renowned professionals, acquiring practical skills that complement their academic training.
Potential Compensation: Some Smithsonian internships offer financial compensation or expense support, making it easier for candidates with limited resources to participate.
- Opportunities. (2023, June 17th). In Smithsonian Office of Internship Programs. https://internships.si.edu/opportunities