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Smithsonian’s Robert Frederick Smith Internship: Digitization Intern - National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, DC)

The Smithsonian’s Robert Frederick Smith Internship and Fellowship Program seeks to build pathways for historically underrepresented individuals to grow successful careers in the cultural sector. While sponsored through the National Museum of African American History & Culture, the internship and fellowship sites are in varying locations across the country.

As part of the Smith Fund Internship and Fellowship Program, the Museum will select and provide funding for interns at select African American museums, art galleries and museums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), cultural institutions and historic sites, or other related institutions dedicated to the study and preservation of African American history and culture. All internship opportunities with this program will focus on work related to 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.

Now accepting applications for Summer 2020. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST February 15, 2020.

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 2020
·      Paid professional memberships
·      Willing to complete paperwork necessary for intern to earn 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

Questions can be e-mailed to


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


To apply for the internship in Washington, DC, submit your materials through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointments Portal ( by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2020.
·        Cover letter/Personal Essay (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.

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 16 – March 17, 2020
·        All applicants notified of their status by March 31, 2020