Smithsonian Affiliations Internship Opportunities

2023 Leadership for Change Internship

The 2023 summer internship application has closed. Thank you!

The Smithsonian and its Smithsonian Affiliates, in collaboration with the Emerson Collective Youth Collaborative and the George Washington University, will offer the Leadership for Change Internship to rising college sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are committed to helping communities, are passionate about social justice, and are driven to accelerate positive impact in our world.

Smithsonian Affiliations is committed to helping people across the globe understand the complexity and the nuances of our world by collaborating with a network of mission-aligned Affiliate organizations in this critical work. The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, and its network of Smithsonian Affiliates believe in the power of museums and cultural organizations to strengthen and transform our world. This change cannot happen without diversity—not just of race or ethnicity, but also of ideas, experience, and perspective.

This internship provides an opportunity for students to use their dedication to social justice, combined with their skills and life experience to support museums and cultural organizations in affecting change in our communities. Students will become museum advocates and explore new ways to bring museum content, resources, and expertise to communities near and far.

There are two (2) types of internship opportunities with the Smithsonian in Summer 2023:

  • Hybrid: 3 weeks onsite at a Smithsonian Affiliate; 5 weeks virtual (See FAQs below for locations)
  • In Person: 8 weeks at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

2022 Summer with the Smithsonian

This 5-minute video was produced by student interns. It showcases their summer work and provides reflections and highlights from their learning experiences.

Internship Details

Applicants will be notified on or before March 31, 2023. Not all applicants will be selected for an interview. For more information on what to expect, please review the information on the Emerson Collective Youth Collaborative website. Be sure to scroll all the way down the page for the FAQs!

There are two (2) internship opportunities with the Smithsonian in Summer 2023. All internships will be 32 hours per week and take place June 12-August 4, 2023. Students will receive a modest stipend ($4,800), plus travel and housing assistance.

  • Hybrid experience with a Smithsonian Affiliate organization
  • In Person experience at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Hybrid Internship at a Smithsonian Affiliate organization.
Interns will spend 3 weeks onsite at an Affiliate organization* and 5 weeks working virtually at their home location. Students will be paired with an organization geographically near their physical location. During the 3-week, onsite portion, students will participate in hands-on activities related to their projects, meet with and learn from Affiliate mentors, and participate in on-site enrichment activities. Hybrid interns will also have the opportunity to participate in virtual enrichment programs provided by the Emerson Collective and Smithsonian Institution throughout the course of the internship.

This internship is not to exceed 32 hours of work per week. This internship option offers the greatest flexibility for caregivers, students who want to stay local, or those who are also working during the summer and would like to still have an internship opportunity. *Pre-selected Affiliate cities will be posted on the Smithsonian Affiliations website; not all Smithsonian Affiliates are participating in this internship.

In-Person Internship in Washington, D.C.
Interns will spend 8 weeks at the Smithsonian* for a hands-on, in-person learning experience. Interns will work 3 or more days per week on-site at a Smithsonian office, not to exceed 32 hours per week. In-person interns will have the opportunity to participate in Smithsonian-wide internship activities and events in addition to enrichment activities scheduled by the Emerson Collective, and any virtual programming being offered throughout the summer.* Interns will be matched with a pre-selected group of Smithsonian museums, offices, centers, libraries, or programs; not all Smithsonian museums are participating in this internship.

Projects will focus on one or more of 4 core topic areas:

  • Women’s History
  • Climate Change
  • Race and Social Justice
  • The Changing American Narrative (including rural initiatives, immigration, education, civics, democracy, and other topics).

Interns may find placement and learning opportunities in:

  • Digital engagement
  • Educational equity and accessibility
  • Communications
  • International relations
  • Exhibition development
  • National and community outreach
  • Museum advocacy

Both internship options include opportunities to network with the full Emerson Collective summer cohort. Interns will have access to the breadth and depth of Smithsonian and Affiliate resources, meet with Smithsonian leaders, and gain an understanding of how museums and cultural organizations are vital in providing platforms to discuss, understand, and solve some of the biggest challenges facing the world today. Interns will also participate in enrichment programming with Emerson Collective, designed to develop leadership capacity and build professional networks.

Smithsonian Staff, along with Interns, Fellows, and Research Associates are no longer required to be vaccinated. The Smithsonian is, and will continue to be, a mask-friendly institution and is committed to fostering an inclusive, safe, and supportive workplace.

  • Please note that in-person opportunities are subject to change based on CDC recommendations and Smithsonian and Affiliate policies related to COVID-19.
  • If you are assigned to a Smithsonian Affiliate organization, you must adhere to that organization’s COVID-19 policies and procedures.

Hybrid interns: Interns matched with a Smithsonian Affiliate organization must work with their assigned supervisor to find appropriate housing within commuting distance of the organization. Funds for housing will be provided by Smithsonian Affiliations and added to the base stipend amount. Fund amounts are based on internship location, commuting distance, and need for housing (for example: if you are matched in your hometown and live at home, you will not receive housing funds but will receive commuting assistance).

Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. interns: Housing will be provided at Shenkman Hall at the George Washington University. Students opting to take advantage of the housing benefit must agree to follow all rules and regulations set forth by GW Summer Housing.

International students based in the U.S. are welcome to apply for this internship. Please note, if you are an international student considering an internship with the Smithsonian, there are some additional considerations regarding your participation in an internship. As a non-U.S. citizen, you will need to present proof of legal authorization to participate in your internship. In addition, your internship is contingent on approval from the Smithsonian Office of International Relations. Please review the information for international interns on the Smithsonian Office for Internship Programs website for more guidance.

The 2023 summer internship application has closed. 

Required application material:

  • Resume
  • Cumulative GPA
  • Learning Goals essay that addresses each of these questions. Each answer should be no more than 250 words.
    • Tell us your story. What experiences, ideas, thoughts, skills, talents, and/or adventures have shaped you?
    • How do you see yourself contributing to society in the future?
    • Tell us about a particular social justice issue that you have explored or would like to explore that speaks to your passions, professional or personal interests.
    • Is this your first internship and/or first time working in an office setting? In either case, what do you hope to learn, and how will it apply to your future personal development and career goals?
    • What has your experience been with museums, science centers, and cultural institutions? What role, if any, have they played in your personal or educational journey?

The Leadership for Change internship will offer hybrid internships in these locations. Visit the Google Map here.

Anchorage, Alaska

Hot Springs, Arkansas

San Francisco, California

Rancho Cucamonga, California

San Diego, California

Boulder, Colorado

Mystic Connecticut

Miami, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Bradenton, Florida

Fishers, Indiana

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Frankfurt, Kentucky

East Lansing, Michigan

Bozeman, Montana

Corning, New York

Stony Brook, New York

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hillsboro, Oregon

Fort Worth, Texas

Houston, Texas

Austin, Texas

Spokane, Washington

The Leadership for Change Internship is made possible by the generous support of the Do A Little Foundation. 

Questions? Email