Are you passionate about digital media, history, and culture? Would you like to live and work in our nation’s capital? If so, you should check out an internship at the Smithsonian Institute. The organization offers over seventy-five internship positions each semester, each with a different set of challenges and rewards. The Smithsonian Institution earned the title of the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, so managing the organization’s social media requires a team of capable associates and interns.
Read on for a comprehensive guide to the Smithsonian’s coveted internship program.
What it’s actually like
If you have finally tired of hearing your advisor saying you HAVE to find an internship before you graduate, you should look into your options at the Smithsonian. College interns fill every role at the Smithsonian Institute, from museum curating to education, to communication, to exhibitions and anything in between. Social media interns don’t have a typical day. Some days interns attend and document events. Other days they’ll take on email marketing projects, and sometimes demographic research. The internship will undoubtedly give interns a comprehensive look into the world of digital management. Social media interns could be doing anything on a given day, from research to photography to marketing.
Cool stuff you get to do
Interns fully emerge themselves in the Smithsonian’s enriching and important cultural work. The Smithsonian hosts events, collects fine arts and creates historical exhibits that help shape America’s historical memory. As a social media intern, you’ll take on the task of sharing the Smithsonian’s remarkable work with the public. You’ll create digital content for all the organization’s social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. You’ll learn the inner workings of connecting with a diverse online audience, a skill that will prove valuable later no matter what illustrious career you choose.
What you’ll learn
The Smithsonian Institute gives their interns enough autonomy that they learn to problem solve and work both independently and collaboratively effectively. “An internship is designed to be a learning experience, so the interns who thrive here are the ones who try to learn as much as they can. Whether that be learning interpersonal skills in an office setting, exploring the wealth of knowledge the Smithsonian has to offer or simply diving deeply into the topics they are working on, if they are hungry to learn and active about what they wish to learn they will walk away richer,” said intern coordinator Heather Jaran.
You’ll also learn:
1. Digital Media Content Creation
You’ll learn to take quality photos, edit video and multimedia material and create event promotion content. Not only will you create content, but also monitor viewer traffic across social media platforms. Every day you’ll see the measurable impact of your hard work and learn to tailor outreach strategies that work best for the Smithsonian. Essentially, you’ll gain a multifaceted perspective into digital management.
2. Email Marketing
You’ll learn to sell event tickets using effective online marketing and strategic communication. The Smithsonian constantly looks for new ways to fundraise, increase museum membership and sell event tickets. Lucky interns will have the opportunity assist with these initiatives and maybe even spearhead their own digital outreach projects.
3. Life Lessons
At the Smithsonian, like any other internship, you’ll develop as a young professional and enjoy a period of self-discovery. “My experiences helped me develop my art historical research and communication skills. Moreover, interning at the Smithsonian introduced me to thoughtful and dedicated leaders in the field and solidified my decision to pursue my MA in art history,” said former Smithsonian Outreach Intern Quinn Divens. So you never know, a Smithsonian internship could put you on a fascinating career track that you never even expected.
How to prepare for your application
Doesn’t the Smithsonian and their digital outreach efforts sound like a dream job? Submit your application via the Smithsonian Career Portal. When applying, highlight your writing skills and your digital media skills, including photography, video editing and photoshop. Be sure to start preparing your application weeks in advance because you’ll need to provide two letters of recommendation, a university transcript, a polished resume and complete the intern application online. If selected, you’ll undergo an interview process that may vary from one to two rounds.
Skills that impress them
The Smithsonian seeks a truly diverse crowd of interns from different ethnic backgrounds and interests. Smithsonian Interns from a range of educational backgrounds, including history, communication, marketing, journalism and more. The Smithsonian looks for different skills in each office, but successful social media interns must have proficiency in using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr. Social media management experience, excellent writing skills, attention to detail and familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite skills don’t hurt either. “Above all else, I look for great writing skills as the first priority. I also look to a candidates cover letter to see if they’ve demonstrated enthusiasm for the position,” said public affairs Associate Laura Lyons.
You no longer have to worry about how you can afford fancy activities on your college-student budget. You’ll get to attend and document bougie Smithsonian events for free. You’ll also learn about random exhibits and activities that you probably wouldn’t pay attention to otherwise. Only an internship with the Smithsonian could teach you about medieval portraiture and the psychology of color and the biology of orchids. In addition to being a bomb internship, the Smithsonian’s D.C. office offers a prime location for interns to spend a rewarding session in D.C. exploring the city’s history, munching on amazing brunches and breathing in the city’s culture.
Full time – forty hours per week
Part-time- minimum of twenty hours per week
Compensation: Unpaid, or for university credit
Location: S. Dillon Ripley Center, Smithsonian Institution
To apply, check the Smithsonian career portal.
Fall Position Deadline: July 1
Winter/Spring Positions: October 1
Summer Positions: February 1