2012 Interns in front of Smithsonian Castle.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the internship itself?
Students work side–by–side with curators and scholars at one of the 19 Smithsonian Museums on a variety of tasks: research and writing for Smithsonian publications, researching archival materials for museum exhibitions or Web sites, developing programming and educational materials for museum visitors and teachers, helping to mount exhibits, writing wall text and making decisions about exhibition formats, and more. Students work four days a week (usually, Monday through Thursday), full–time.
What are the other components of the program?
In addition to the internship, students take a seminar in museum studies that meets once a week on Friday mornings. The seminar is taught by Dorothy Moss '95, Ph.D., who has worked at the Smithsonian.
Students are also required to develop a substantial independent project, usually built from their internship work, which is submitted at the end of the term to both their supervisor and a Smith faculty member. The work is graded by both readers.
Once a month, the program director comes to Washington for a colloquium session in which students present their evolving projects.
How many credits will I get, and in what subject?
The Smithsonian program is a 16–credit program. Students receive 4 credits for their internship, 4 credits for the seminar, and 8 credits for the final project. All appear on the transcript as American studies credits.
Do you have to be an American studies major to do the Smithsonian program?
Absolutely not. Students from any major may apply. Internships span a wide range of disciplines, as do the Smithsonian museums themselves. In the past few years, majors in biology, art, history, anthropology, education, government, as well as American studies, have participated in the program.
How do I find housing?
You are responsible for your own room and board. Many students use craigslist.org or the Alumnae Office to locate housing, and students often choose to live together (or with students in the Picker Program). There are also several agencies in D.C. which specialize in finding housing for the many interns who work there. Smith employs a liaison, Elizabeth Connolly, to help with housing. In mid-April, Elizabeth will speak with students who have been accepted into the program about housing and other non-academic matters. Though she will not find housing for you, she will recommend strategies for locating places on your own. The liaison continues to serve as a resource and support for students once they arrive in D.C.
What happens to my financial aid?
Your family contribution will be determined exactly the same way if you go on the Smithsonian Program as it would be if you were studying at Smith. The only differences are 1) Smith College will replace Federal Work Study or Campus Work Study with a loan in any term a student is studying away from our main campus, and 2) you will not be charged by the college for room and board while you are away. You will be responsible for paying for your own housing while away from campus. If you have questions about how your specific aid will be affected by participating in the Smithsonian Program, you should schedule an appointment with Student Financial Services to discuss your concerns before leaving for Washington.
When do I start?
You begin your internship the day after Labor Day. You finish on the last day of Smith classes. Vacations are negotiated with your supervisor.
What can I do with this experience, during and after Smith?
The Smith College Museums Concentration represents a clustering of academic coursework, practical experience and independent research dealing with the collection, preservation, interpretation and display of artworks, artifacts, manuscripts and archives, and historic sites. Students who have completed the Smithsonian program are well–positioned to complete this concentration.
Graduates of the Smithsonian program are also well positioned to pursue graduate work in art, history and science museums. Our own director and chief curator at the Smith College Museum is a Smithsonian program alum... as are many of the curators with whom you will work at the Smithsonian itself.