Smithsonian Institution Internship

3.5 of 5 stars Overall Intern Rating (13 Intern Reviews)

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4.1 of 5 stars

Smithsonian Curators are Smart,
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

I've never been treated more like a young professional than at SI. It was understood that I needed instruction but that I also had knowledge and experience to offer the museum. In short, the culture at the museum is wonderful.


Downers

It is disappointing that there are not more hiring initiatives for academic positions such as curators and library and information staff.


Advice to Potential Interns

If you're interested in working at the Smithsonian, search the official internship office's database of postings. If you don't see something interesting or don't get a call back-don't worry! Brainstorm what subjects or professional fields interest you and then set out to contact employees in those fields. Most, if not all, employees at the Smithsonian consider giving back to students and fostering educational initiatives vital and will listen to internship proposals from students.


Advice to Management

The Smithsonian runs off of interns, fellows, and volunteers. More initiatives need to be in place to keep in contact with them and prioritize them for paid positions.


Would You Recommend

Yes


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3.8 of 5 stars

A Day as an Archivist
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

Having the opportunity to work with archivists


Downers

The high cost of public transportation to worksite


Advice to Potential Interns

Be sure to gain insider knowledge before applying for a position. Assess the environment that the job is located in.


Would You Recommend

Yes


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4.0 of 5 stars

Excellent research experience with proper training, approachable staff, and comfortable schedule.
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

The other interns, the living facilities, the work experience.


Downers

The small stipend.


Advice to Potential Interns

Nothing comes to mind.


Advice to Management

See if there is a potential to increase the compensation.


Would You Recommend

Yes


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3.9 of 5 stars

The internship that changed my life - The road to discovering my future.
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

Everyone was very approachable and helpful, even the world reknowned scientists. I learned a great deal about my project and felt like I contributed something, my PI was very easy to talk to and gave me project details beyond what my exact duties were. I developed important and valuable laboratory skills that helped me get into graduate school. At the time I didn't enjoy it, but giving a presentation on the project I was working on to the SCBI community was great public speaking and presentation practice. The people I met really made the internship for me, including the researchers, lab staff, and my fellow interns. It was a great atmosphere for learning and I developed a sound knowledge of skills as well as confidence in myself, my abilities, and what I wanted to get out of life. When I started my internship I was fortunate enough to have a specified instructor to train me in the lab. After my first few months there, that was no longer part of her job description. Front Royal, VA isn't a booming metropolis but I rather enjoyed it. Many places to explore and the campus itself provides outdoor opportunities, and we had a lot of fun. The free housing is a great perk as well as the free parking at museums downtown with the ID badge.


Downers

For the first half of my internship I was not paid. The second half of my internship I was on a $500/month stipend. It was better than nothing but still not easy to live off of. The housing is a bit outdated but really nothing to complain about.


Advice to Potential Interns

What you get out of this internship depends on what you put into it. Go in ready to work and learn. Some days in the lab cab be monotonous and intern work is never glamorous, but that doesn't mean it's not important. Don't be afraid to ask questions and talk with the researchers because they are usually very willing to help. Make friends with all the interns, even the ones outside of your department because it will make your social life outside of the lab so much better.


Advice to Management

An increase in stipend would be nice but many internships are without pay. It would also be nice to have someone to train interns again and to run the internship program as a whole. I remember when I applied, I couldn't even remember how I had chanced upon the application. Other people ask me how to find the internship and seem to struggle to locate one online or find a name to contact for questions. Even as an intern it would be nice to have a contact for general concerns. For example on what to pack when moving to Front Royal, what to expect, where to go that sort of thing.


Would You Recommend

Yes


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3.9 of 5 stars

Excellent
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

Very helpful people as supervisors, appreciated my work.


Downers

Location, specially as I had to deal with teh National beltway traffic. Did not get a lot of networking opportunities for lack of time as a result.


Advice to Potential Interns

Citizenship required, otherwise need to go through contracting companies.


Advice to Management

better opportunities for visa holders


Would You Recommend

Yes


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4.1 of 5 stars

Student works at Prestigious Museum, Gains Invaluable Experience
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

The best aspects of the internship include the skills gained during the project, the networking and career advancement opportunities through working with notable colleagues, and the familial work environment.


Downers

I disliked my commute to work.


Advice to Potential Interns

This internship was a great opportunity for real world industry experience. Make the most of the time by getting to know your employers and colleagues and by taking advantage of specific internship programs.


Would You Recommend

Yes


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4.0 of 5 stars

Local Student Makes It Big on East Coast with Life-Changing Experience
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

Ability to connect with visitors and get them excited about historical subjects they otherwise would have taken little interest in; learning about other visitors' interpretations of the artifacts; getting to see the various artifacts up close and personal everyday.


Downers

Expensive place to live (Washington, DC)


Advice to Potential Interns

Extremely supportive of their employees, especially student interns. The work environment is much different than any other place I've been; everyone is genuinely excited about their job and it shows.


Would You Recommend

Yes


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3.7 of 5 stars

An engaging, meaningful, and unique opportunity to work with collections and issues related to my field.
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

independent projects, ability to see a final product and have the organization use that product, smart people, who treat you as a part of the organization. Allowed me to go to talks, career fairs, etc. at the Smithsonian.


Downers

lack of direction from supervisor in the beginning, lack of full-tme employment opportunities, using interns like employees that should be paid more for what they bring to the table.


Advice to Potential Interns

identify a project to work on in the beginning.


Advice to Management

Pay interns, offer continued job opportunities to them, promote cross-unit collaboration and networking.


Would You Recommend

Yes


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3.3 of 5 stars

Stewarding the American Experience Through the Media
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

I was able to be in the know of almost all the projects that were going on in the museum. I got to see the back rooms of the collections areas and take special guests on tours of them. I was also able to meet some important people from the media that will be important contacts with my future career in Public Relations.


Downers

The stress and the overlapping projects.


Advice to Potential Interns

It is an amazing place to work! Even though it can be easy to get swamped and bogged down in all the projects, stress and running around, it's important to take time to enjoy Washington, D.C. It's an incredible place!! Also, meet as many curators as possible and ask them a lot about their collections and their projects. There are some amazing things going on there!


Advice to Management

It'd be great if they paid their interns with something other than academic credit. D.C. is an incredibly expensive place to live, so maybe just helping out with living or transportation or something. But it was still fantastic.


Would You Recommend

Yes


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3.3 of 5 stars

Internships with world-renowned scientists at the forefront of conservation research in endangered species and their habitats.
2012 | VERIFIED INTERN


Uppers

I was paid by my project’s collaborative partner.
Free housing and laundry on site.
The networking and collaboration opportunites available at SCBI (formerly CRC). Most of the scientists were readily accessible and willing to meet with interns to discuss our career goals, employment options and graduate school.
The dorm houses 12 people and it was typically at least half full at any point of the year and most of them were in the same department as I was.


Downers

There was little to no organization for the internship program. After I applied, the internship coordinator left her post (in 2005) and we haven't had one since out at Front Royal.
Most internships are unpaid.
No access to internet when not at work [there is wifi as of 2008/2009 at my insistence as a supervisor for interns that came after me].
For interns without cars, there was no public transportation option to go into town for groceries, etc (town is 2.5mi away on a road with heavy traffic traveling at 55mph+)


Advice to Potential Interns

You'll have access to world-renowned scientists in conservation research. They are very accessible and prefer to be called by their first name. Often the scientists are open to interns pursuing graduate school in association with SCBI and the animal collection. There are at least 10 interns on staff at any time, providing you with a peer group and a social life.


Advice to Management

There needs to be better communication between Smithsonian on the Mall and the zoo and at SCBI.
SCBI needs more security and police officers, we only have 2 officers and a huge facility to monitor.
Regarding internships: There needs to be an intern coordinator for each facility, the supervisors are left to do the paperwork and they never remember everything.
Regarding staff and compensation: Smithsonian needs to commit to hiring more science and research-based employees and provide better pay. You have to convince congress that we’re worth it. I work in a lab that had 4 technicians and 1 manager 6 years ago and we now have 1.5 techs on soft money and one manager, who only recently became federal. We can't continue to be the leaders in conservation research if we do not have the staff to do so. A search on salary.com revealed that I am in the bottom 3% in terms of salary based on my responsibilities and skill set. My supervisors cannot afford to pay me more because the funding has to come out of their research grants. One of the technician positions in my lab used to be a line item in the zoo’s budget but was cut due to the overall SI budget cuts. Again, we can't continue to be the leaders in conservation research if we do not have the staff to perform the work. If scientists have to spend all of their time fund-raising, less of their time is available for research.


Would You Recommend

Yes


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