Web and Social Media
The New Media department is seeking interns to complete exciting projects. Two unpaid opportunities are available in spring, summer, and fall.
1. Blog editorial assistant
This intern will work with staff, fellow interns, guest bloggers, and others to pitch, frame, write, edit, design, and evaluate blog posts; plan and implement a lively editorial calendar of future posts; represent the blog through the Museum's social media channels, and advocate for readers' interests and needs.
As part of the blog editorial assistant internship, the intern will have the opportunity to further develop skills in order to:
- interface effectively with many kinds of Museum staff including curators, educators, exhibition designers, and others;
- think strategically about Museum messages and educational approaches;
- gather and analyze target audience feedback to illustrate impact and propose recommended changes;
- interact with audiences across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, and YouTube (see our Connect page for more on how we use each platform);
- become familiar with museum education practices, how museums work, and how this translates to online learning;
- expand and deepen writing and editing skills while working with a diverse staff and a varied, changing subject matter;
- produce writing and multimedia products that meet the high quality standards of the Smithsonian Institution;
- learn new technical skills as the new media landscape evolves.
2. Web design assistant
This intern will have a key role in working with New Media staff to create and maintain content on the Museum's Drupal website. In addition, they will work on project(s) suited to their ability related to migrating exhibition sites, email newsletter production, website analytics, visual design/CSS, or other content creation. Candidates should have a basic proficiency in Drupal or hand coding HTML/CSS and/or solid computer skills and strong design experience.
As part of the web design assistant internship, the intern will have the opportunity to further develop skills in order to:
- collaborate effectively with fellow Museum staff, including exhibition teams and public program teams
- establish a basic level of design and user experience practices
- apply and strengthen coding skills while learning how to implement Museum web projects at various stages
- learn new technical skills, from mobile web development to e-mail campaigns
- produce web products that meet the high quality standards of the Smithsonian Institution
What's an internship in New Media like?
- Summer 2013 intern Hannah Ostroff shared her exciting journey as an intern, which included blogging about Cabaret, answering interesting questions about the Revolutionary War, and using social media to cover the arrival of a historic fire engine.
- Museum Studies graduate student and intern Heather Olsen researched, wrote, and coordinated a pan-Smithsonian Pinterest project focusing on the American flag in Smithsonian collections as well as another Pinterest board highlighting Westerns.
- Fall 2013 intern Leanne Elston got to hang out in our Conservation Lab with Jim Henson puppets and blog about it, pick out the coolest facial hair-related objects in the collection for a "Movember" blog post and social media campaign, and interview Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian's Undersecretary for History, Art, and Culture.
- Spring 2014 intern Peter Olson enjoyed interviewing a Muppet maker from the Jim Henson studio and learning about the rapid capture digitization pilot project.
- Summer 2014 intern Auni Gelles provided a behind-the-scenes tour of the important role of social media in the Museum's Raise It Up! campaign. One of the tweets she authored for the campaign was re-tweeted over 300 times! She also helped facilitate a "tweetup" (social media-ehanced exhibition tour) in honor of the Museum's 50th anniversary and has reflected on what she learned in this blog post.
- Fall 2014 intern Lois Goh of Georgetown University's Communication, Culture, and Technology program created a Pinterest board highlighting retro math collections, edited many blog posts, worked with our popular "This Day in History" tweets, and analyzed social media metrics to identify audience trends.
- Spring 2015 intern Julia Falkowski of The George Washington University's Museum Studies program performed an audience research study and survey of the Museum's Pinterest followers. She helped facilitate the #HearHistory Tweetup and was responsible for the clever hashtag and published blog posts on yo-yo history, historic sound recordings, retro slang phrases, and jazz.
The New Media Department is often asked what we look for in internship applications. Here are a few tips to filling out a successful internship application with our office. Some of these may also apply to New Media internships at other museums:
Don't undervalue experience you've gained outside the classroom. Designing a logo for your aunt's business or managing a Facebook group for an extracurricular activity teach important transferable skills we'll appreciate.
If you need to improve your tech skill set, think beyond the classroom. Semester-long courses are great, but take advantage of free training online. (When we're stumped, we watch instructional YouTube videos to learn more.)
Examine your personal use of social media. While managing a brand is different from personal social media use, project a professional demeanor beyond your resume.
- Get familiar with new media issues faced by museum professionals. Read blogs by museum professionals (we enjoy Museum 2.0 and the Guardian's cultural professionals network) or follow Twitter hashtags such as #musetech or one of these.
Hone your writing skills. Exceptional writing, interviewing, and editing skills catch our attention.
Visit a museum in your community. Spot creative uses of technology—from an iPad interactive to an exhibition-specific hashtag—and reflect on how these impact visitors' experiences. With the renovation of the Museum's West Wing, sharp audience observation and analysis skills are in demand.
As part of Education and Public Engagement branch of the Museum, New Media works toward educational goals. If you've worked to educate others, share your passion for teaching and learning with us.
- We're the "Smithsonian Institution," not "Institute." We value attention to detail as well as evidence that you've done your research.
An interest in learning more about history is important, but you don't have to be a history major or minor. Our content relates to a variety of subjects, including food, theater, music, innovation, and democracy. Your experience singing in the school choir may be just as relevant to us as that War of 1812 paper you wrote.
Illustrate how an internship with New Media will help you achieve your career goals, and how this experience fits into your future plans. Internships are about learning—tell us what you want to learn! We're passionate about connecting interns with development opportunities, from useful skillbuilding to informational interviews with colleagues.