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Smithsonian Latino Initiative Internship to Fellowship (I2F) Program


2018-2019 I2F Cohort speak with Jesus Maldonado at the Center for Conservation Genomics.

Application Deadline: 2019 applications are closed

Award Announcement: NA

Internship Dates: 9 September – 20 December 2019

Fellowship Dates (if selected): 13 January – 24 April 2020



This program is made possible through federal support received from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center and the Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships’ Webb Endowment. This program was established to promote the diversity and inclusion of Latino Americans in the fields of museum studies and support.


How it Works:

The Smithsonian’s Internship to Fellowship (I2F) Program is a two-tiered learning experience designed to introduce recent college graduates to the diversity of career opportunities within the fields of museum sciences and support. Selected candidates will embark on a 15-week internship in Fall 2019 where they will be placed with a mentor and spend time learning about the Smithsonian, it’s facilities, collections, staff, and it’s role in the global museum and research fields.

During their internship, interns will participate in bi-weekly cohort programming that will give them a broader understanding of where their placement sits in the larger context of the Smithsonian, and explore the many facets of the museum profession through seminars, other cohort members, and site visits.

As part of the program, all interns will learn to develop a fellowship proposal. Interns will work with their mentors and programming staff to conceive a project, research Smithsonian resources needed to complete the project, and write a proposal. Interns interested in continuing with the second half of the program will submit their proposals to a review committee.

Interns with accepted proposals will be welcomed as fellows in Spring 2020. Fellows will work with their advisor to complete their independent project over the course of their 15-week fellowship. Fellows will also participate in bi-weekly cohort programming that will focus on career skills and planning. The program will conclude with a symposium where fellows will present their work.


Internship Projects:

Mentors in a variety of offices and museums will guide interns through a Smithsonian experience via engagement on the following projects:

Biological and Conservation Sciences: National Zoological Park

Project Description: This internship, based at the Center for Conservation Genomics (CCG) at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, will offer the candidate the opportunity to work on a project studying the population genetics of an endangered carnivore, the southern river otter (Lontra provocax). This species has the smallest range of any of the world’s 13 otter species, encompassing southern Chile and southwestern Argentina. Our study area includes two rivers within the Valdivian coastal reserve in Chile, where a population of invasive American mink has become established. This population was founded by mink that escaped from local fur farms in the 1970s, and it has since grown dramatically. The mink share habitat, food sources, latrines, and even dens with the native otters. This is a conservation concern because of the risk of disease transmission from the mink to the otters. Previous studies have shown that mink can transmit diseases including parvovirus and distemper through contact with local dogs. The goal of our project is to identify individuals, estimate the genetic diversity of the otter and mink populations in the Valdivian reserve, and track their movements through genetic analysis of scat samples collected by our Chilean collaborators.

Learning Objectives: The intern will learn cutting-edge genomics laboratory methods optimized for the processing of non-invasive DNA, including DNA extraction, library preparation, enrichment of target DNA through in-solution hybridization, and preparing DNA for sequencing on an Illumina MiSeq. The intern will also learn data analysis skills including DNA sequence quality control, de novo assembly of mitochondrial genomes, and population genetic analyses including estimation of genetic diversity and structure. In addition to acquiring multiple lab and data analysis skills, the intern will have the opportunity to be part of a dynamic and diverse lab group that is applying cutting edge high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies and data analysis to the study of evolution and conservation biology. The intern will gain valuable experience with many aspects of scientific research, with the potential to contribute to a scientific publication.

Targeted Majors: Biology, Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Ecology, Other related STEM fields.

Building Future Collections: National Museum of American History

Project Description: This is a joint internship between African American and Latinx history initiatives in the Division of Political & Military History. The intern’s work will contribute to two projects focused on managing current collections and building future collections. An intern will work directly with curators to: 1) critically assess, document, and categorize African American Political History collections and develop a new collecting plan for African American Social Justice history 2) expand Latinx political history collections through archival research, community collecting, and identifying pivotal players and movements.

Learning Objectives: The intern will learn collection management through direct exposure to NMAH’s vast holdings. The intern will also learn how to assess collections, develop a collecting plan, and help create new approaches to community collecting. This is an excellent opportunity for applicants interested in marginalized histories, social justice, immigration, and cultural studies. The ability to work well in teams, balance multiple projects, and employ strong research skills are required.

Targeted Majors: Latinx or African American studies, History, Anthropology

Experimental Gallery Experiences: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

 Project Description: Trial and Error is a transparently experimental programming series that carves out space for prototyping ideas outside of what museums may regularly offer.  Art museums have a unique opportunity. Artists experiment widely and push the boundaries of materials, spaces, and ideas. The content of our institutions sets the stage of museum staff to do the same. This program series arose from an interest in in finding space to get a few of these program ideas off the marginalia of meeting notes and into the galleries. An essential component of being transparently experimental is seeking participants’ feedback on the program.

This internship will offer the candidate the opportunity to contribute to Trial and Error and other scheduled gallery experience programs such as evening artist talks, curatorial tours, Hirshhorn/DRAW, Hirshhorn/AM, and more. The intern would work closely with the Gallery Experience Manager and the Public Engagement Manager. The intern would also collaborate with a wide range of internal staff and volunteers and external partners.

Learning Objectives: The intern will develop experience and skills in program development, coordination, museum education best practices, facilitating conversations around contemporary art, and risk-comfort. The intern will gain knowledge on artists in upcoming exhibitions, such as Marcel Duchamp, Laurie Anderson, Pat Steir, and more, and will learn to plan and support programs. 

Targeted Majors: Education, Museum studies, Art History, Studio Art, Performing Arts

Science Communication: National Museum of Natural History

Project Description: One of our primary missions at the Smithsonian is the diffusion of knowledge.  At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, basic, exploratory science is a foundation of what we do, however dissemination of that exciting work is hindered by a large disconnect between that research and what is presented to the public.  Our in-person and online visitors easily relate to well-known subjects like mammals and birds, things they see every day and which we know well based on a couple centuries of study.  The public is far less likely to know much about invertebrates or animals in the ocean because they are much further removed from our everyday life, yet, these are the organisms that drive most of the natural processes that impact our quality of life on earth (e.g. the carbon cycle, the water cycle, and climate).  We want to correct this familiarity disconnect, we want to capture the public’s interest and disseminate the amazing stories our researchers are pursuing.  By doing this, we not only inform the public, but we inspire the next generation of scientists and citizens that will shape our future.  We would like to embed a budding science writer within the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and teach them to translate our stories into compelling public outreach channeled through SI’s established outlets including social media, websites such as the Ocean Portal and science news sites, and direct contact outlets such as geek nights and Scientist Is In programs.

Learning Objectives: This is a great opportunity for a student interested in both science and communications to develop their skills and to work with a diverse set of researchers.  The intern will become familiar with a broad suite of research programs, projects and personnel within the NMNH’s Department of Invertebrate Zoology; learn to craft a scientific story in 280 characters to 2 pages, in order to engage and inspire the public; become familiar with the use of various media outlets including social media (Twitter, Facebook, Istagram, etc), websites (Ocean Portal, various NMNH blogs, science news sites, etc), and opportunities for in-person education and interaction (e.g. activities and training in Q?RIUS Education Center and Q?RIUS Jr., Scientist Is In programs, “geek nights” in the community, etc)

Targeted Majors: STEM Majors, Humanities, Communication, Education

Exhibit Planning, Development, Design and Production: Smithsonian Exhibits

Project Description: Smithsonian Exhibits (SIE) is the Smithsonian’s pan-institutional resource for exhibit planning, exhibit development, design and production services. SIE provides exhibit expertise and support to all public-facing functions within Smithsonian museums and offices. We support the Smithsonian’s objective to connect the American people, and international audiences, with the richness of Smithsonian content and collections by:

  • Providing the highest quality exhibit design, interpretive writing, project management, graphic production, fabrication and 3D projects;
  • Partnering with SI museums and offices to augment in-house capabilities;
  • Serving as a professional resource for Smithsonian exhibition colleagues

Interns will have an opportunity to engage with any of our departments, or a combination, depending on interest and experience. Our departments are:

  • Project management (budgets, schedules, coordination)
  • Exhibit development (research, interpretive writing, editing)
  • Design (graphic design, 3D design)
  • Graphic production (wall murals, text production, object labels)
  • Fabrication (carpentry, welding, painting/finishing, prototyping)
  • 3D Studio (digital sculpting, 3D printing, mount making, sculpture, model making)

Learning Objectives: Interns will gain hands-on, practical experience, learning how SIE staff develop and produce exhibits for Smithsonian and federal colleagues. Interns will gain skills in their area of interest and have an opportunity to learn about all phases of exhibit development, from the earliest planning stages through fabrication and final installation.

Targeted Majors: Fine arts, Studio arts, Graphic design, Industrial design, Architectural design, Digital manufacturing

Collections Care and Access: Anacostia Community Museum

Project Description: The Anacostia Community Museum’s collection documents the history and everyday life of urban communities, with holdings ranging from ranging from family heirlooms and household objects to artworks, quilts, and posters. Under the mentorship of collections management staff, the intern will learn how to improve documentation of the collection by researching and cataloguing objects, and digitizing accession-related documentation. This project will aid to increase public access to and awareness of the collection. Specific projects may be targeted toward the intern’s interests, when feasible.

Learning Objectives: This is an opportunity to learn and practice a wide range of museum collections management skills, such as object handling, object-based research, object cataloguing, and museum database management. The intern will learn about the accession process and creating solid documentation; how to use the museum’s collections management database (TMS); how to develop and record workflows; and how to use standard office applications (Excel, Outlook). They will also have the opportunity to meet visiting researchers and community members, and attend staff meetings and scholarly lectures, exposing them to different kinds of museum-based research.

Targeted Majors: Anthropology, Public history, Museum studies, Urban studies, Material culture

Communicating about the exhibition Girlhood (It’s Complicated): National Museum of American History

Project Description: Girls have come into sharp focus recently as a new wave of young leaders has stepped onto the front lines of social movements. Although often overlooked, girls have a long history of political and social action. They have both amplified change and been disrupters in their own right. In addition, girls have carried the expectations of communities and the nation on their person. No wonder their stories are reflective of some of the central aspirations and debates in our history. Through the National Museum of American History’s rich collections, the Girlhood (It’s Complicated) exhibit engages in conversations about youth movements and women’s history through unexpected stories of U.S. girlhood. The exhibit will unpack the diversity of girls’ experiences at the intersections of gender, race, and class. The exhibition design is inspired by zines–ways girls have expressed themselves over time. It is divided into five story sections: Education (Being Schooled), Wellness (Body Talk), Work (Hey, Where’s My Girlhood?), Fashion (Girls’ Remix), plus seven biographical interactives titled “A Girl’s Life.”

The chosen applicant will work under the mentorship of the museum’s Communications and Marketing leadership team. Experiences will include developing a marketing calendar for the Girlhood exhibition; developing a traditional and digital plan for reaching target audiences (general, African American, Latinx, Asian Pacific American and Native American) with exhibition news and content; attending Girlhood exhibition team meetings and other planning meetings related to the exhibit as well as other opportunities within the Office of Communications & Marketing.

Learning Objectives: Through this opportunity in the Office of Communications and Marketing, the chosen applicant will:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of a major museum exhibition project under the guidance of their mentor and with interaction with curatorial and other exhibit team members.
  • Develop or increase their knowledge of museum communications practice; examining and experimenting with reaching a wide variety of audiences and tailoring key messages and stories.
  • Learn skills and trends in traditional media communications such as how to craft media advisories, press releases, fact sheets, object descriptions, photo captions, key messages, etc.
  • Gain exposure to the inner workings of a museum, from exhibition development to management as well as the overall Smithsonian American Women’s Initiative while pursing academic and professional goals
  • Learn about topics in museum studies by being immersed in weekly Girlhood team meetings, attending the American Women’s History Initiative marketing committee meetings, etc.

Targeted Majors: Communications (Journalism, Public Relations, Marketing or Digital Media), Women’s Studies, Latino Studies, Asian American Studies, English

Museum Collections Databases and Equity: National Museum of African Art

Project Description: The Registration department at the National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) manages the museum’s collection of historical and contemporary African fine art. The team also oversees the collection database, The Museum System (TMS); as well as works on projects involving digitization, digital asset management, the collection website, and data reporting. The intern will learn from the database administrator with an ongoing project to update the museum’s database standards in preparation for a mass digitization of the art collection and greater online presence. This project seeks to give focus to the ways in which art collection databases need to respond to issues of social justice, equity, and the legacy of colonialism on the African continent/diaspora.

Learning Objectives: The intern will learn the basics of managing an art collection database; including cataloging, database standards, exporting data, managing digital assets, and cross-team collaboration with curatorial, library, and archives teams.

Targeted Majors: Arts, Humanities, History, Computer Science, Social Justice

Microbiology of a coral disease outbreak in Florida: Smithsonian Marine Station Fort Pierce

Project Description: Outbreaks of coral disease, especially tissue loss diseases, have damaged coral reefs worldwide.  An outbreak of a disease, termed stony coral tissue loss disease, emerged on reefs off the coast of southeast Florida in 2014 and continues to spread throughout Florida’s Reef Tract. This disease is causing massive mortalities of multiple coral species, and disease signs vary among affected coral species. This project will involve studying the microbiology of the disease by conducting experiments with live corals in aquaria looking at the factors that influence rates of disease transmission, isolating and testing bacteria that might be responsible for the disease, and looking at the presence of protective microorganisms (probiotics) that could protect corals from disease.

Learning Objectives: The intern will gain valuable experience in marine biology, ecology and microbiology as part of this project while working with their mentor and other laboratory members at the Smithsonian Marine Station, an active and dynamic marine research laboratory. The student will engage in: reading relevant published papers about coral disease; learning basic microbiology sterile techniques and how to safely grow and handle marine bacteria; and learning how to grow and maintain corals in aquarium systems. The intern will be trained on molecular laboratory methods including DNA extraction, PCR, and Sanger sequencing, as well as data analysis methods.

Targeted Majors: Biology, Biotechnology, Ecology, Marine biology, Other STEM fields

Sanctuary and Immigration in the US: National Museum of American History

Project Description: This internship will assist with research on the topic of sanctuary and immigration in the United States related to Lantix and Asian Pacific American communities. In addition, the intern will help to identify and contact communities and organizations that have worked with refugees and asylees to conduct interviews, transcribe transcripts, and cultivate relationships with potential donors of objects.

Learning Objectives: The objective of this position is to offer exposure to and practical experience with curatorial department processes and procedures, collection acquisitions and management systems and general museum operations. This is an excellent opportunity for applicants interested in diaspora, cultural studies, cultural traditions and/or expressions, immigration, Latinx history, and Asian American studies.

Targeted Majors: Latinx or Asian American studies, History, Anthropology

Paintings Conservation: Museum Conservation Institute

Project Description: The conservation of modern and contemporary paintings and painted artworks is considered to be among the more difficult and pressing challenges in the field of art conservation. Past projects in this department include artwork-based conservation, artists’ material-inspired research, and exhibition support, and these activities will continue to be the center of the proposed project. Interns will be involved in paintings conservation projects for SI museums. This opportunity is best suited for an individual with an interest in pursuing museum careers. It offers the chance to gain experience by working in a large and complex institution.  The interdisciplinary nature of paintings conservation combines skillsets from both art and science in order to solve problems and make informed decisions for conserving paintings. Former interns and fellows have advanced to careers as collection managers, conservation scientists, conservators, college professors, and entrepreneurs. This is an excellent opportunity for applicants interested in chemistry, material science, and studio art.

Learning Objectives: The learning objectives focus primarily on modern and contemporary paints issues, which include:

  • Modern and contemporary artists’ materials and techniques
  • Aging and deterioration behaviors of modern and contemporary paintings and paints
  • Collaborating with art handlers, framers, exhibition specialists, and conservators in the planning and installation of exhibits
  • Care and handling of modern and contemporary paintings and painted artworks for display, shipping, transport, and storage
  • Performing minor treatments to gain hands-on conservation experience

Targeted Majors: Chemistry, Material science, Studio art

Sustaining Endangered Languages: Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Program

Project Description: Recovering Voices (RV) is a multi-unit program that partners with communities around the world to revitalize and sustain endangered languages and knowledge. Through interdisciplinary research, community collaboration, and public outreach, we strive to develop and facilitate effective responses to language and knowledge loss, leveraging the collections, archives, and other resources of the Smithsonian Institution. This internship provides the opportunity for a comprehensive experience in language and knowledge sustainability work, splitting time between RV’s Community Research Program and Mother Tongue Film Festival.

Learning Objectives: The intern will learn the value of language and traditional knowledge in cultural sustainability, and have an immersive experience in decolonizing museum practices while developing the following skills: community engagement, educational programming, audiovisual production and post-production, festival catalog research, event management, and social science data management.

Targeted Majors: Humanities and social sciences, Anthropology, Cultural studies, American studies, Folklore, Film and media studies, Public history

Museum Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: National Museum of Natural History

Project Description: The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is developing a diversity and inclusion initiative to further facilitate museum-wide engagement in the efforts to increase and sustain a diverse and inclusive work culture. This project will include writing a charter that aligns with diversity goals, identifying key advisory group activities and policies, and structuring membership intake procedures including recruitment and announcements.

Learning Objectives: This project will offer an intern the opportunity to learn about the development of museum-wide policies and procedures; all types of communication for both internal stakeholders and external audiences; and the management of a diverse group of active and alumni members.

Targeted Majors: Leadership, Management, Communication, Humanities

Government Relations at the Smithsonian: Office of Government Relations

Project Description: The Smithsonian’s Office of Government Relations (OGR) is a central office that provides liaison between the Institution, Congress and the Executive branch.  OGR works closely with Smithsonian Museums, centers and programs to understand and articulate their needs to Members of Congress and Congressional staff.  The OGR intern will assist in all organizing events that engage Congress such as tours of exhibits, collections and facilities.  The intern will be involved in preparation work for hearings, briefings, and meetings and events and will monitor legislation, prepare biographical information about Members of Congress, and will keep abreast of the political climate as it relates to the interests of the Smithsonian.  The intern will be involved in outreach activities of the OGR and will attend, when appropriate, meetings on Capitol Hill and will participate in tours and events.  This position requires a high level of tact, sound judgement and diplomacy.

Learning Objectives: This internship will present an opportunity to gain first-hand experience and knowledge about the operation of Congress.  The applicant will learn how to work with Congress through on-the-job assignments and staff engagement. The intern will learn about the congressional committee structure, appropriations, the organization of Congressional offices, caucuses, and the role of Congressional Regents. The OGR intern will gain understanding about the legislative and political process especially as it relates to science, history, art, culture and museums.  The intern will assist with and attend staff meetings, meetings on Capitol Hill, briefings, events and educational programs. This is an excellent opportunity for applicants interested in political science and U.S. government and their interaction with the Smithsonian.

Targeted Majors: Political science, History, Communications

Family Programs: National Museum of Natural History

Project Description: Under the mentorship and training of the Family Programs Manager in the Office of Education and Outreach, the Family Programs Intern will assist in the administration, coordination, development and implementation of programs for intergenerational groups at the National Museum of Natural History. The Fossil Hall is slated to open in June 2019 with family groups as a target audiences, so it’s an exciting time to be a part of Family Programs at NMNH as we pilot new programming, refine existing programming, and work towards defining a strategy for engaging local Washington, DC area families.

Learning Objectives: Upon completion of this internship, the Family Programs intern will be better able to:

  • Learn skills and trends in museum education relating to visitors of all ages, but especially intergenerational family groups
  • Understand best practices in informal science education methodologies
  • Gain exposure to the inner workings of a museum while pursuing academic and professional goals
  • Understand and execute an evaluation process for museum programming
  • Gain experience in planning and facilitating a variety of engaging family programs

Targeted Majors: STEM Majors, Humanities, Communication, Education

Programming the Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Project Description: The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage annually produced outdoors on the highly regulated space of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., by the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The 2020 Festival will feature various programs around the themes of cultural knowledge and environment, including one celebrating the living cultural expressions of northeastern Brazil. Through working on the Brazil program, the intern will get comprehensive experience in the hybrid space of the festival, learning about both exhibition production processes and public programming as well as community engagement. This is a great opportunity for applicants interested in learning about large-scale event production, and applied and public facing applications of anthropology, folklore, and ethnomusicology.

Learning Objectives: The intern will have an immersive experience in curatorial festival production processes, which include the following:

  • Artist selection and programming
  • Site design in a highly regulated outdoor event space
  • Content production for printed and online materials
  • Supplies and international shipping research for planned presentations
  • Cultural facilitator training and preparation

Targeted Majors: American Studies, Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, Folklore, Language and Area Studies especially Portuguese and Latin America


Learning Objectives:

Through this opportunity, I2F Interns will:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of museum- or research-focused projects under the guidance of their mentors
  • Increase their knowledge on other topics explored with their mentors
  • Learn to develop and write an independent study proposal
  • Learn about topics in museum studies and administration, industry standards, and educational requirements through biweekly seminars
  • Hone their research, laboratory, and professional skills


Eligibility and Prerequisites:

To be eligible for this program, applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents and have received an associate’s or bachelor’s degree by the time the program commences and but not more than two years prior (degrees completed September 2017-2019). Degrees may be in any major. This is a full-time internship and applicants must be able to commit at least 35 hours per week to this program and be on-site at their assigned Smithsonian facility.

First generation degree-holders are strongly encouraged to apply.

Recent graduates from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) of higher education such as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) are encouraged to apply to this program.

Applicants with interests beyond research, such as business administration, organizational development, education, are strongly encouraged to apply.

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.



To help defray living expenses, interns will receive a stipend of $650/week and a one-time travel allowance of $750. If accepted to the follow-up fellowship, fellows receive a stipend of $650/week and a one-time travel allowance of $750.


How to Apply:

Applications will be accepted through 23 June 2019. To apply, applicants need to submit an application packet, including:

To apply, applicants need to submit an application packet, including:

  1. Resume (max 2 pages)
  2. Statement of Interest (max 2 pages) – the statement of interest should address:
    • To which internship are you applying? You may identify up to two.
    • What are your career goals and interests?
    • How do you see this internship fitting into your career goals?
    • What prior academic and professional experiences do you feel have prepared you for an internship at the Smithsonian?
  3. Transcripts (unofficial are acceptable)
  4. One Letter of Recommendation (SOLAA will ask for 2 – you only need one for a complete application)

Application packets are to be submitted through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System (SOLAA). First, create an account. Then, start an application and make sure to select this program, which is listed under the Office of Fellowships (OF). Follow the steps listed, and be sure to upload all required supporting documents.



For questions about the program and the specific internship opportunities, email the Office of Fellowships and Internships at and include “Latino I2F” in the subject line.