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FAQ for Virtual Internship Mentors

What is a Smithsonian Virtual Internship?

Virtual Internships are Internships that are conducted either partly or entirely remotely through the web. Smithsonian Virtual Interns do not regularly report to a physical location at any SI unit. Instead, Smithsonian Virtual Interns conduct their internships from dorm rooms, apartments, academic institutions, other museums, wherever. Smithsonian Virtual Interns are assigned a specific SI Mentor to work with during the tenure of their Internship.

How Does a Mentor Ensure Learning Happens During a Virtual Internship?

Because of the physical separation between Mentor and Virtual Intern, strong and active mentorship is all the more important during a Virtual Internship. Just as with an Internship in residence, SI Mentors might schedule a regular opportunity to provide feedback to their Interns (albeit, over the phone or through the web in the case of Virtual Interns). Mentors can consider the possibility of holding conference calls with groups of Virtual Interns, and allowing Virtual Interns to participate/experience meetings by phone.

When applicable, Virtual Mentors might also consider working with Virtual Interns to build work product portfolios (i.e. writing, design, code) as a basis for providing specific feedback to the Intern but also as a way for the Intern to document their learning through the products they create during the course of their Internship.

How Long are Smithsonian Virtual Internships?

With stated learning objectives and a mentor’s commitment  Smithsonian Virtual Interns may be appointed for a term of up to six months. As an intern’s experiental education progresses, with revised learning objectives and a renewed commitment from a mentor, they may be reappointed.

How Many Hours Per Week Do Virtual Interns Do Their Internship?

This depends entirely on the Intern’s learning objectives, the learning opportunity the SI Mentor has to offer, and their respective schedules. While there is no minimum or maximum requirement, a typical time commitment might be between five to ten hours/week.

What Kind of Projects or Programs are Work Best For Virtual Internships?

Smithsonian Virtual Internships might involve editing, research, transcription, translation, curation, tagging, social media, graphic design, writing, community building, coding, app development – really anything that provides an opportunity for an Intern to learn remotely through real-world experience.

Who Is Eligible to Apply?

The same eligibility requirements for Interns in residence apply to Virtual Interns.

How Do I Register a Virtual Intern?

Virtual Interns may be registered with OFI the same way Interns in residence are registered: either by submitting an Academic Appointment Form or Registration in SOLAA.

Can Virtual Interns Receive Stipends?

No. Virtual Interns are not eligible to receive Smithsonian academic stipends.

Do Virtual Interns Need to Receive a Smithsonian Badge/Receive a Smithsonian Background Check?

Generally, Smithsonian Virtual Interns do not need a Smithsonian badge or undergo the background check applied to Interns in residence. However, if you have concerns about a Virtual Intern having access to sensitive information, please contact OPS.

Do Virtual Interns Need to Apply for Smithsonian Network Accounts or Access?

Generally, Smithsonian Virtual Interns may use a non-SI email address during their appointment. However, if a Virtual Intern needs access to the SI network for their Internship – follow the same procedures you would for an Intern in residence.

What Kind of Contact Do Virtual Interns Have With the Smithsonian?

While Virtual Internships may include a component in residence or meeting in person, most communication is virtual: email, phone, web chat, document sharing platforms, social media. Each Virtual Intern is assigned a specific Mentor at the Smithsonian to work with, report to, and learn from.