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.
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.