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Internship Program Description Template

Smithsonian internships are workplace based learning experiences, guided by a Smithsonian mentor and occurring during a specific time frame, which relate to the intern’s academic or career goals. With stated learning objectives and a mentor’s commitment, interns may be appointed for a term of up to six months. As an intern’s experiential education progresses, with revised learning objectives and a renewed mentor commitment, they may be reappointed.

Below is a template that will not only be beneficial for you, but for your applicants as well. This templates helps clarify the internship and minimize the questions from the applicant.


Be sure to include a picture of past interns or past programs!

Background or Purpose

This is where you put information useful to present under the background header is the history and origin of the office/unit.

This is also a space where one can enter information about the purpose of the opportunity being offered (i.e. the purpose of this program is to offer opportunities to early professionals interested in mastering the art of ancient Babylonian cabinet making).

Learning Objectives

Here is where you discuss the internship in detail. Information such as what the intern will learn from his/her mentor, what the program is like, and the objectives of the internship. It also might be helpful to state areas of study pertaining to the internship. Below are a few examples:

  • The National Museum of American History internship program allows a diverse group of people with innumerable interests, strengths, and goals to encounter an educational environment where they can work with and learn from professionals and scholars in related areas of concentration. The Museum offers interns of different backgrounds incredible opportunities in a variety of fields, from public relations to exhibition research to project design. Learning from knowledgeable mentors in the dynamic atmosphere of the Museum and Washington, D.C. area, interns enjoy an intensive experience as multifaceted as the Museum itself.
  • The museum’s programmatic objectives are flexible enough to encourage the creation of projects tailored to students’ interests and needs, while also allowing for a challenging experience and effective results that may be measured by standards of traditional scholarship. Included are opportunities to learn about, develop, and engage in oral history projects, regional history, community history, and art and cultural history. Under the supervision of museum staff, there is also the opportunity to learn about curriculum development. The museum’s permanent collection and archives offer scholars interested in African American material culture excellent opportunities for research and professional development.
  • Internships are offered year-round in the fields of folklore, cultural anthropology, and ethnomusicology. Internships are open to all interested persons looking to further their academic and/or career goals in these or related areas. Intern projects often center on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, archives and collections, educational outreach projects, Web production and Web content creation, video projects, and planning and production of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The internship experience is an opportunity to learn – through hands-on training and one-on-one engagement with knowledgeable staff and professionals in the field – about planning, organizing, and producing large public programs and events; marketing and production aspects of a record label; collections management; research and documentation; and working with information to create multi-media educational products that allow for greater visibility by large audiences.

How It Works

This is where you can describe logistics related to the internship: when, where, and with who will it happen? How does the opportunity being offered work?

Prerequisites and Eligiblity

Instead of describing “Qualifications,” for internship descriptions it is better to describe “Prerequisites.” Qualifications can imply that the intern needs skills in order to perform a task (not the primary purpose of an internship) whereas Prerequisites makes it clear that any skills or knowledge an intern must possess at the start of internship is only a needed foundation for the intern to learn more during the internship.

The eligibility for an internships is based on the applicants academic background and interests. One can not make a program eligible based on protected classes such as gender or race. However, you can specify the subject area. For example, we encourage applicants who are interested in women studies to apply. Below is a full example of eligibility:

  • Anyone who is eligible for an internship at the Smithsonian can apply to intern at the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships. Eligibility for Smithsonian internships is generally defined as someone seeking a guided learning opportunity related to their academic or professional goals. Foreign students are eligible to apply. All Smithsonian interns must be 14 years of age or older.

How To Apply

For this section, OFI recommends using  the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System (SOLAA). However, other options such as applying via pdf are acceptable too.

Application Deadlines  as well as contact information are listed under this header too. An easy example is:

  • To apply, create an account on the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System (SOLAA). Then start an application for this internship program, which is listed as the Office of Fellowships (OF). Follow the steps listed, and be sure to upload any necessary supporting documents.
  • Need help? Contact Us at 202-633-7070. Program Website:
  • Application Deadlines:
    • Fall Semester (September – December): August 1
    • Spring Semester (January – May): November 15
    • Summer Semester (May – August): March 15

Adding application deadlines is often very important because if/when an opportunity starts to be passed around without an application deadline, prospects may continue to keep applying long after the deadline is passed because they have no way of knowing how old the opportunity is.

Selection Criteria

This section offers an opportunity to let applicants know how applications will be evaluated. Consider adding information about how many awards will be offered, who will be making award decisions, and when applicants can expect to be notified about decisions.

This is also a good place to add a non-discrimination statement such as: The Smithsonian is committed to ensuring that all employees and affiliated persons (including interns) are treated equitably in an environment that is free from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, gender stereotyping, pregnancy, and sexual orientation), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, parental status or marital status. All personnel practices, including the selection of interns, must comply with this policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is it useful to specify questions such as, unpaid or paid, academic credit, or part time or full time.