Every year, we involve over a hundred interns in our various activities. Internships are offered year-round in various fields including cultural anthropology, folklore, ethnomusicology, museum studies, arts administration, graphic and web design, marketing, journalism, and library science. All internships take place in Washington, D.C.
Intern projects, conducted under the guidance of the Center’s professional staff, often focus on research and production for the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives, and educational outreach.
Internships are open to students and non-students alike. They can be from six weeks to one year, full- or part-time, though working at least fifteen to twenty hours per week is preferred. Unless otherwise specified, these are non-paying internships. Students in folklore, American studies, American history, music, library science or other fields may be able to arrange course credit for their work here.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival
We welcome interns for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival year-round, although the bulk of the work is in the summer. In the fall, winter, and spring, interns assist with research and planning for the upcoming Festival’s programs—best suited for students in anthropology, ethnomusicology, and language studies as related to the program.
In the summer, we also seek interns to work on event production, technical crew, the Festival Marketplace, social media, web production, graphic design, curatorial team, the Festival Blog, public relations, participant and volunteer coordination, video production, and administration.
Summer interns are expected to work through the ten days of the Festival during the last week of June and first week of July, including weekends and the July Fourth holiday. You should be comfortable working outdoors in high heat and humidity, in a fast-paced environment among large crowds of people.
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
There are a number of opportunities for internships at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. We are a cross between a record label and a museum, so the experience is a mix of nonprofit record business and applied ethnomusicology.
Intern projects are generally in the areas of sales and marketing, social media, mail order, royalties and copyright issues, recording production, and web production with tasks that include writing, research, mailing, and data compiling and organizing. The internship is recommended for students and other individuals interested in ethnomusicology, social anthropology, music business, audio engineering, and marketing.
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Interns in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections assist with preserving, digitizing, and cataloging archives collections, creating finding aids for collections, creating web presentations on archival materials, and helping with other projects. During the summer, archives interns create and process audio, video, and photo documentation of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in late June and early July.
We particularly welcome students in library and information studies who want an opportunity to work in a folklife archive as part of their degree program. Applicants should have a knowledge of or interest in world folk music traditions, audio engineering, photography, Photoshop, web design, or library and archival work.
Web Production Internship
The Smithsonian's Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage (CFCH) Web Production Intern will assist with day-to-day operations related to the management of our web sites. These duties may include digitizing images, scanning archival documents, encoding audio and video, entering metadata, and contributing written content to our web sites. Scholars interested in the fields of anthropology, ethnomusicology, American studies, and folklore will enjoy spending time with the curators and collections here at the Center and will be exposed to many unique topics and ideas. Skills gained in the areas of web production are invaluable to future scholars, writers, educators and content producers as they embark on their careers.
Online Education Web Production
This internship is only available for October - December 2020. This intern will assist the Folkways education team in launching a new online learning platform that will use tracks, videos, and other audio-visual resources from the Smithsonian to create “Learning Pathways.” A Learning Pathway is a thematic group of individual lessons that guides students and teachers through a particular topic. The six Pathways we are launching as part of a pilot program include Music of the Chicano Movement, Sounds of Civil Rights, Women in the Blues, Cajun & Zydeco Music, Music of the Asian Royal Courts, and Puerto Rico’s Musical Influences. The intern will assist the Director of Web & IT in creating web pages, organizing related metadata, and improving programming functionality of the web interface used to navigate the lessons. The intern will gain knowledge and experience in web development, html coding, and website architecture planning, as well as creating user-friendly online education platforms and developing pedagogical design for music and humanities education. No musical or education experience required, some website creation experience preferred. Knowledge of Microsoft Excel is necessary, and experience with database management is a plus.
How to Apply
To apply online, visit solaa.si.edu and create an account. After selecting Internship, specify the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the programs or projects you are most interested in. You will be asked to upload supporting materials, including an essay, résumé, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
The submission deadline for summer internships is March 15. There are no deadlines for getting applications in for the rest of the year. The completed application should be submitted at least six weeks before the start of the internship.
If you have questions, please contact intern coordinator Arlene Reiniger at ReinigerA@si.edu.
More about internships at the Smithsonian