Every year, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage involves over a hundred interns in our various activities. We offer internships year-round in various fields, including folklore, cultural anthropology, ethnomusicology, linguistics, museum studies, arts administration, graphic and web design, videography, marketing, social media, 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, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives, educational outreach, and cultural sustainability research and programs.
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, history, music, library science, or other fields may be able to arrange course credit for their work.
Some Areas of Internships
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, accessibility, 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. Festival interns 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, 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, 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.
The web production intern will assist with day-to-day operations related to the management of our websites. These duties may include digitizing images, scanning archival documents, encoding audio and video, entering metadata, and contributing written content to our websites. Scholars interested in the fields of anthropology, ethnomusicology, American studies, and folklore will enjoy spending time with the curators and collections. Skills gained in the areas of web production are invaluable to future scholars, writers, educators, and content producers as they embark on their careers.
Cultural Sustainability Research and Outreach
Interns who work in the area of education and cultural sustainability conduct research for presentations at conferences and publications, work with archival collections from and in collaboration with Indigenous and minoritized language communities, produce stories through video, compile information on our material culture holdings, and advance our work to document, protect, and present cultural vitality in local communities.
Tech-Teach Fabrication Skills Internship
This hands-on internship is ideal for high school students with interest in design, construction, and fabrication. Selected interns will work with Smithsonian technical staff to design and build structural elements for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival while learning valuable fabrication skills and techniques. The after-school workshop series will meet three times per week for three hours at the Folklife Fabrication Shop in Lanham, Maryland, and will center on drafting, carpentry, welding, metal work, safety precautions, and other elements of technical production. See full internship description.
Virtual Internship: American Ginseng Research
For this “virtual field school” in winter and spring of 2019, students in the extended Appalachian region and the eastern Midwest will research the history, folklore, harvest, conservation, and use of American ginseng. Smithsonian experts will offer guidance in research methods and best practices. Research by interns will help inform a proposed program for the 2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.
The internship period will begin on or around February 25 and will extend twelve weeks to May 10, 2019. Students should commit a minimum of ten hours per week. See full internship description.
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. You will be required 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 submitting applications for other seasons. The completed application is to 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
The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage welcomes volunteers to assist in various parts of the organization. Find more information about volunteering at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival and with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
If you are interested in volunteering at the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archive please contact Jeff Place at firstname.lastname@example.org.