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10 Museum Internships for High School Students

As a high school student, exploring a museum internship can be an amazing experience that can significantly enhance your college applications! These internships offer you a unique opportunity to work in an environment steeped in culture, history, and art. By engaging in a museum internship, you immerse yourself in the world of curatorial practice, educational programming, or conservation work. This experience demonstrates to college admissions officers your commitment to learning beyond the traditional classroom and your eagerness to delve into areas of cultural and historical significance


Moreover, a museum internship provides you with a unique narrative for your college application essays. It allows you to reflect on your experiences and express how they have shaped your understanding of the world and your aspirations. Colleges and universities are always on the lookout for students who bring diverse perspectives and experiences to their campuses. Your involvement in a museum setting indicates a well-rounded character, a willingness to engage in diverse learning environments, and an interest in contributing to the broader community. These qualities can enhance your applications and help you stand out to admissions committees!


Location: Smithsonian Science Education Center

Stipend: $2000

Program dates: June - August

Eligibility: 1) Be a high school senior graduating in 2022; 2) Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States with a valid Social Security Number at the time of application; 3) Have a minimum weighted cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale


The Young Ambassadors Program (YAP) at the Smithsonian Institution is a great opportunity for high-achieving, community-conscious high school seniors, particularly those of Latino heritage, who aspire to be future leaders in the arts, sciences, and humanities. This national college preparatory and leadership program is designed to harness the rich resources of the Smithsonian Institution to foster the next generation of leaders. As a participant, you will be part of an exclusive group of selected applicants who embark on a weeklong, pre-professional and pre-collegiate seminar in Washington, D.C. This seminar is not just an educational experience; it’s a deep dive into Latino perspectives, offering a unique blend of cultural and academic enrichment. You'll engage with peers from across the nation, sharing experiences and insights, thereby broadening your understanding of diverse viewpoints and cultural backgrounds.


During your time at the Smithsonian, you will have unparalleled access to its vast collections, exhibitions, and experts, providing a stimulating environment for learning and growth. The program focuses on developing leadership skills, enhancing college readiness, and building a strong sense of community and cultural identity. This exposure to the Smithsonian’s resources, coupled with mentorship and networking opportunities, equips you with invaluable tools for your future academic and professional endeavors. The knowledge and experiences gained from the YAP will enhance your college applications and give you valuable material to write and talk about in essays and interviews!


Location: New York, New York

Stipend: A striped commensurate with the New York State minimum wage

Program dates: January-June (school year) and July-August (summer)

Eligibility:  Students who are two to three years from graduating high school (in grades 10 and 11) or obtaining their High School Equivalency degree and who, on the application deadline date, either reside in or attend a high school or home school in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut


The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers great internship opportunities designed to allow students to immerse themselves in the world of art, museums, and creative professions. However, it's important to note that this experience is not exclusively for those with a direct passion for art. The High School Internship Program at The Met offers a diverse array of professional fields for students to explore. Whether your interest lies in editorial work, marketing, social media, education, scientific research, conservation, or another area, the program provides an opportunity to connect with museum professionals in these sectors. During your internship, you'll have the chance to engage one-on-one or in small cohorts with these experts, gaining invaluable insights and work experience. 


The Met is deeply committed to promoting diversity in the arts, museums, and creative careers so it actively seeks students from diverse backgrounds and with varied interests. If you're someone who is excited about contributing your skills and ideas to a prestigious institution like The Met, this program is looking for you. Especially if you belong to a group that is historically underrepresented in these fields, you're strongly encouraged to apply


Location: Varies with internship

Stipend: N/A

Program dates: Throughout the year

Eligibility: Must be a U.S. Citizen, at least 16 years of age, currently enrolled, or accepted for enrollment at an accredited educational institute, in good academic standing and qualifications and interests should match the requirements of the internship project

A National Agency Check and Inquiry (NACI) background check will also be required.


If you want to dive deeper into the world of historical documentation and preservation, the National Archives voluntary internship program is a great opportunity for you. This program, open to both undergraduate and graduate students, is a perfect fit if your academic pursuits lie in History, Political Science, or Library & Information Science. At the National Archives, known as NARA (National Archives and Records Administration), a federal agency established in 1934, you will be at the heart of the nation’s efforts to catalog and store crucial government documents. This internship will immerse you in the intricate processes of document preservation, archival science, and historical research.


If you are interested in other disciplines such as Business, Computer Science, Education, Communications, Law, or Information Technology, the National Archives also offers specific internship listings that cater to these areas. Engaging in an internship at NARA allows you to see firsthand how a major federal government agency operates in managing and protecting the country's valuable historical records. You'll gain insights into how governmental branches utilize these archives and the pivotal role they play in maintaining the nation's historical integrity. Additionally, this internship is an excellent way to build your resume and gain practical experience in a field related to your studies. 


Location: New York, New York

Stipend: Interns who attend a Title 1 School or are eligible for free or reduced lunch will be offered a stipend to participate. Unpaid internships will be provided for all other accepted students, with the option to receive community service hours or school credit. Participation in this program can be used to fulfill the extracurricular requirement for the NYSED Seal of Civic Readiness. 

Program dates: October - June

Eligibility: High school students, entering grades 10, 11, or 12. Applicants must live in and attend school in the New York City metro area (includes the five boroughs of New York City, as well as areas of New York State, Connecticut, and New Jersey). 


If you’re passionate about history and digital media, the Student Historian Internship program at the New York Historical Society is a great way for you to dive into American history. In this program, you'll not only engage in exciting research using the vast resources of the New-York Historical Society but also have the chance to share your scholarship through creative digital projects. You'll meet with professional staff to learn about various aspects of the museum, library, digital humanities, and history fields. This internship is a collaborative and interactive experience, where you work alongside fellow students to develop your historical thinking, communication, and digital media skills. The hands-on work involved in the program will deepen your understanding of American history, particularly focusing on the theme "Our Composite Nation: Frederick Douglass’ America." 


If you attend a Title 1 School or are eligible for free or reduced lunch, you will be offered a stipend to participate in the program. For other accepted students, the internship is unpaid, but you have the option to receive community service hours or school credit. This flexibility makes the program an excellent opportunity for you to gain valuable experience in the field of history and digital humanities, regardless of your economic background. 


Location: New York

Stipend: $2,500

Program Dates: August - June

Eligibility: You must be in the 10th or 11th Grade and passing your classes for the last three or more semesters. You must ALSO meet at least one requirement from the list below: a) Complete a course in the Science and Nature Program, the Science Alliance Middle School Program or Science Alliance High School Program OR b) Attend one of the partner high schools or partner programs


The Science Research Mentoring Program (SRMP) at the American Museum of Natural History offers you an opportunity to engage in a year-long scientific research project alongside Museum scientists. Imagine working on pioneering projects covering a diverse range of topics, from the genetic basis of foraging in ogre-faced spiders to the mysteries of ancient Maya diets. You'll be working with your peers and dedicated scientist mentors twice each week throughout the school year, for a total of four hours a week, on projects that are breaking new ground in scientific research. This hands-on experience is invaluable, offering you a unique insight into the world of scientific exploration and discovery.


In SRMP, you are not expected to have any prior experience in research activities. You'll learn a wide array of new skills, including working with DNA in the lab, analyzing data from space-based telescopes, reading scientific articles, and coding and data analysis using programming languages like Python and R. This program is perfect for students who are passionate about learning and discovery, are new to scientific research, value teamwork and collaboration, and are excited to work with a mentor.


Location: Boston

Stipend: Paid

Program Dates: 7 weeks between July and August

Eligibility: Applicants must be between the ages of 14-19 and currently enrolled in a High School or equivalent program


The Museum of Science offers a great opportunity for you to work in a museum setting. It’s an immersive experience where you will learn about the operations of the museum and develop practical skills that will benefit you in any future career. The internships available cater to a range of interests, including education and behind-the-scenes roles. You'll get to see firsthand how the museum engages with its audience and operates on a day-to-day basis. More than just completing tasks, you'll be involved in professional development workshops that are designed to enhance your skill set and prepare you for the working world. These workshops cover topics like financial literacy, effective resume and cover letter writing, and more, ensuring that you're not only gaining work experience but also learning how to navigate the professional environment successfully.


In addition to the invaluable work experience and skill-building workshops, there are numerous other benefits to interning at the Museum of Science. You will enjoy free admission and access to the museum’s exhibit halls and other venues, allowing you to explore and learn at your leisure. Furthermore, you'll receive discounts in the museum store and café. There’s also the added advantage of the museum’s location being commuter-friendly, with the E-line stop just across the street. 


Location: Los Angeles

Stipend: Unpaid

Program Dates: 4 weeks starting June 26

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible to apply


If you are considering a future in museums, archives, non-profits, or education, the Holocaust Museum LA offers a summer internship that is a great opportunity for you. You'll have the chance to meet and learn from experts in the field, work closely with mentors, and gain a comprehensive understanding of museum operations. Whether it’s assisting with archival work, participating in educational programming, or engaging with museum visitors, each task will contribute to your understanding of how museums function and the crucial role they play in education and preserving history.


The Holocaust Museum LA High School Internship Program offers both historical education and professional development. You will connect with the history and arts through the lens of the museum. The program also focuses on developing your professional and leadership skills. As you contribute to the museum field through various projects, you will gain valuable insight into the workings of a non-profit educational institution. This experience is more than just a resume booster; it's a chance to develop skills, make professional connections, and engage with history in a way that few other opportunities allow.


Location: Asian Art Museum

Stipend: Students will be paid a stipend, but information on the exact amount is not available.

Program dates: August to May, 6-8 hours a week minimum, with both virtual and on-site sessions.

Eligibility: Students in grades 10, 11, and 12 can apply.


The Asian Art Museum's Art Speak internship is a great opportunity for you if you want to learn about Asian art and cultural traditions. This program is more than just an internship; it's a comprehensive career training opportunity that immerses you in a variety of artistic and cultural experiences. As an intern, you will have the chance to learn directly from local artists and arts organizations, gaining insights into different artistic processes and cultural contexts. The program also involves engaging in social justice and youth activism, allowing you to understand and participate in the intersection of art and societal issues. This aspect of the internship is particularly valuable, as it encourages you to think critically about the role of art in social change and community engagement.


In addition to exploring artistic and cultural dimensions, the Art Speak internship at the Asian Art Museum focuses on professional development and career exploration. You'll have the opportunity to conduct informational interviews with museum staff, providing a behind-the-scenes look at various careers in the arts. Furthermore, a significant part of the internship involves developing and honing your leadership skills. You will be tasked with creating and facilitating hands-on art activities, a responsibility that not only enhances your creativity and organizational skills but also boosts your confidence in leading and managing projects. This internship is an excellent opportunity to delve into the rich artistic heritage of Asia, develop a range of professional skills, and make meaningful contributions to the museum and your community.


Location: Exploratorium, San Francisco

Stipend: San Francisco minimum wage

Program dates: Throughout the year (after school and on weekends) and in the summer (5 days a week)

Eligibility: Students who are at least 15 years old, and not more than 18 years old, and have completed their first year of high school can apply.


The High School Explainers Program at the Exploratorium is a great opportunity for you to dive into the world of science and museum operations. As the youngest employees of the Exploratorium, High School Explainers are a diverse group of students who play a pivotal role in engaging visitors at exhibits, leading demonstrations, and managing various museum operations. This program is ideal for students who have a keen interest in science or a general zest for learning new things. In line with the Exploratorium’s philosophy, the program is designed not just for students to impart knowledge but also to build their own skills in the process. With two cohorts - one for the summer and another for the school year - the program offers over 130 paid positions annually. Since its inception in 1969, when the Exploratorium first opened, more than 3,500 students have participated, making it a program rich in history and impact.


High School Explainers undergo extensive training, receiving over 60 hours of specialized instruction. This training includes 20 hours of preparation before they start interacting with visitors on the museum floor. The focus of the training spans several areas: science content, exhibit facilitation, career readiness, and youth development and mentorship. This comprehensive approach ensures that Explainers are well-equipped to handle their responsibilities and grow as individuals. Another remarkable aspect of the program is its emphasis on diversity. Each group of Explainers brings together teens from varied cultural, sexual orientation, ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds, mirroring the diversity of the Bay Area. 


Location: Houston, Texas

Stipend: Unpaid

Program dates: Minimum of 4 weeks

Eligibility: Be entering 9th-12th grade


The Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land is a great opportunity for you to join the top tier of volunteers through its SciTeen Program. As a volunteer, you play a crucial role in providing vital support across various sections of the museum. These include assisting with school field trip visits, presenting engaging touch carts, giving hall tours, assisting with the unique ‘Science on a Sphere’ exhibit, and much more. Your involvement in these activities not only supports the museum but also allows you to immerse yourself in a world of scientific wonder.


The SciTeen Program specifically supports science education by enhancing visitors' experiences through teen-led interactive demonstrations and presentations. This facet of the program is particularly rewarding, as it allows you to engage with visitors of all ages, sparking their interest in natural science. During the summer, SciTeens acquire skills that not only enhance future resumes, applications, and careers but also foster learning and the formation of friendships with other teens who share diverse interests in natural science. 



One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to further enhance your applications, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. 


Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business! 


Image Source: Smithsonian logo

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