Internship Applicant FAQs

Do I have to know exactly what I want to do before I apply?

Kind of. You should have a demonstrated interest or passion is some field or profession that we have here at NMAH, and you should also have some idea about what you would like to learn through your internship at NMAH, but you don’t need to know specifics projects or staff for whom you’d like to intern.

Additionally, if you’re interested in internship opportunities at other museums and research centers at the Smithsonian as well as more general Smithsonian internships, please visit the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships.

How much time does an internship take?

This varies depending on the internship; typically, internships are at least 20 hours per week for at least 8 weeks. Some internships are specified as full-time (40 hours per week), while others are more flexible and can be arranged between the intern and their mentor. Additionally, some internships are longer than the 8 weeks; internships can be awarded for a maximum of 6 months with a possibility of another 6 month extension as long as the intern still has more opportunities to learn and grow.

Who may apply for an NMAH internship?

Most interns are either undergraduate or graduate students from colleges and universities around the world, but student status is not required. The Museum welcomes diversity in all respects, including but not limited to age, occupation, nationality, and background, within its intern population. Projects are not generally appropriate for high school students. All interested applicants, international and legal US residents, are encouraged to apply!

Additionally, each internship can be specified to be a generalized and/or specialized internship. Generalized internships are intended to provide individuals initial experience in the internship project’s field, while specialized internships are intended for individuals who already have experience in the internship project’s field. 

Do I need to have a specific academic major in order to get an internship?

Not necessarily. In order to achieve our mission, NMAH requires people with a variety of academic background and professional experiences, and the total work of the Museum requires more than an understanding of history or American studies. Likewise, individuals with many different academic backgrounds and interests have had successful, productive internships at the museum. Take a moment to explore the Museum website, and you will see a variety of exhibits and programs that encompass a wide range of disciplines, including graphic design, medicine, communications, physical sciences, and music. Additionally, intern applicants sometimes overlook the important museum support positions, from administration to information technology to the library and archives. Finally, in an institution founded "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men," there are many opportunities for those interested in education to work with children of all ages in the Museum’s public programs.

With that said, you should have a demonstrated interest or passion the project for your NMAH internship, and some internships that categorized as “specialized” may require more experience in the internship project’s field.

Are there deadlines for applications?

Yes! There are three internship cycles at NMAH, and each has their own application deadline.

  • Spring 2020 Cycle (January – May): September 30, 2019 2:00 PM EST
  • Summer 2020 Cycle (June – August): February 3, 2020 2:00 PM EST
  • Fall 2020 Cycle (September – December): June 1, 2020 2:00 PM EST

Can I apply for more than one internship each cycle?

Yes! Check out the section “Applying for More than One Internship Project” on the How to Apply page.

I'm not a history major! Are there internship opportunities for me?

Yes! Please check out the webpages for Upcoming Internship Opportunities and the General Application Pools to learn more.

Can I get college credit for my internship?

The museum does not award college credit itself, but most U.S. colleges and universities will recognize academic work performed while interning at the museum. Contact your school’s registrar or career planning office for more information.

Will I get paid for my internship?

Some internships provide stipends through the internship mentor's office, depending on the availability of funds. This information is included in the "Financial Information" sections of each internship posting on the Upcoming Internship Opportunities page.

Additionally, stipends may be available for interns in need whose complete applications are submitted on time and who are accepted into the program. Per Smithsonian Institution regulations, stipend amounts can vary up to $650/week. The amount of internship stipends depend on the amount of funds available and is at the discretion of the NMAH. Additionally, stipends are available for a limited number of internships through the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships.

Where can I stay during my internship?

Interns are required to find their own housing accommodations. For some guidance, please check out the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships' D.C. Metro Area Housing Guide.

When will I find out if I got an internship?

At NMAH, mentors receive applications for review the day after the application deadline in order to ensure that every application is reviewed thoroughly. Decisions about intern selection are then expected to be made within four weeks.

How can I get more information?

For more information, please use this contact form to submit an email to the NMAH Interns and Fellows Manager or call (202) 633-3556.