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, foodways, 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
An internship with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings offers a wide range of valuable and meaningful experiences in the recording industry and non-profit arts administration, within the context of the world’s largest museum complex. Specific learning opportunities include graphic design, music marketing, royalty administration, cataloging and research, and educational content creation. Interns are expected to work for at least 100 hours, and ideally no less than 10 hours/week. Some specific internships may require longer commitment to ensure a successful experience, both for the intern and for Folkways. In addition to honing specific skills, interns will meet regularly with their supervisors, work with other interns and other staff on team projects, and have access to a wide array of programming, as well as curatorial and professional experts across the institution. For information on specific internships available, please click HERE.
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.
Rinzler Archives Summer Internship
This internship in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections is made possible through the generous support of the Scott and Dorothy Odell Internship Fund. The mentorship goals include working with archives staff to apply collections management best practices in arranging, describing, and digitizing collections, which consist of papers, photographs, audio recordings, audiovisual media, and managing digital assets. The intern may also work with connecting archival content in our Digital Asset Management System to the public and contribute to finding aids that meet current archival descriptive standards and are Encoded Archival Description compatible using ArchivesSpace (ASpace).
The internship can also be tailored to incorporate a research component exploring the intersections between archival policy and practice, collections care within a DEAI Framework (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion), and the role and significance of the Center’s Shared Stewardship of Collections Policy. The collections include curatorial, ethnographic, and programmatic content associated with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the nonprofit record label Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the work of our Cultural Sustainability team, and the efforts of our Research and Education department.
The deadline for the 2022 summer internship is March 15. The selected applicant will receive a stipend of $700/week for a full-time, ten-week internship.
Folklife Storytellers Workshop
The Folklife Storytellers Workshop offers a professional skill-building and exchange experience for students and recent graduates interested in producing written feature stories, editorial illustrations, web comics, photo essays, and short audio and video documentary pieces for the Center’s online publication, Folklife Magazine.
Interns participate in one-on-one story meetings with editors and cultural experts and a weekly workshop to learn and share techniques of interviewing, creative nonfiction writing, and media production in a highly supportive atmosphere. Storytellers then put these concepts to good use through multiple drafts before completing their work for final consideration. Interns critique each other’s work and receive the personal attention of editors. See the full internship description.
Internships are available year-round and remotely, usually lasting three to four months. Candidates should read our publication before applying.
Mentorship Program for a More Diverse Workplace
We encourage young women of color, an underrepresented population at the Smithsonian, to apply for this opportunity to explore and discover cultural heritage and the role it plays in identity, family, and community. Work with professional researchers and archivists at the Smithsonian, relating to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and Cultural Heritage Policy. See full internship description.
Selected applicants will receive a stipend of $1,500 for a commitment of at least 100 hours.
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.
Language and Archives Mentorship Program
The Language Vitality Initiative invites members of existing Indigenous or minoritized language efforts to apply for a two- to four-month, part-time, virtual mentorship program to hone their skills in navigating digital libraries and archives while contributing to language work. Mentees will have the opportunity to learn Smithsonian collections protocols, gain experience with virtual collections access systems, and discuss intellectual property, copyright, and archival access policies.
This mentorship opportunity is unpaid and has a minimum time commitment of five hours per week, with a flexible schedule. Applicants can be any age over fifteen. If accepted, be prepared to complete a federal background check and submit vaccination information. For further information, please contact language reclamation and media project coordinator Hali Dardar (DardarH@si.edu).
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