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8 Paid Art Internships for High School Students

If you're keen on pursuing art in college and as a career, and have been thinking about getting some practical experience in the field, an internship program can be a great place to start. A number of well-established institutions, including museums and non-profit organizations, offer volunteer and internship opportunities for high schoolers. While some of these programs are available during the summer, some run throughout the year or even extend over two years.

Internships allow you to apply the theoretical knowledge you've acquired in school to real-world situations. You'll work on critical thinking, analytical, interpersonal, business communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills through hands-on experience. By gaining insight into professional work in your chosen field, internships help you decide whether a particular career path is right for you. This early exposure allows you to explore your interests in a low-stakes environment.

Several internship programs offer substantial stipends as well. This financial support can help you save, invest, or prepare for future expenses, especially as you take on more responsibility for your financial planning and budgeting in college.

In this blog, we’ve curated 8 paid art internships for high school students that you can consider! 

Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY.

Eligibility: High school sophomores and juniors in NYC can apply. For summer internships, high school sophomores and juniors from New Jersey and Connecticut are also eligible to apply.

Program dates: January 27, 2024 - June 14, 2024 (school-year internships) | June 26, 2024 - August 9, 2024 (summer internships).

Application deadline: Applications for school-year internships close in October and for summer internships, in February.

Stipend: Students will receive a stipend per the New York State minimum wage law at $16 per hour.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commonly known as the Met, is one of the largest and most well-recognized art museums in the world. The museum offers valuable paid internship opportunities for high school students in and around New York City. As an intern, you will get to interact with art, museum operations, and creative professionals while developing professional skills, expanding their networks, and gaining practical work experience.

You don't need prior experience or specific art or history knowledge to participate. The Met offers two internship programs: a school-year internship which runs for 5-6 months and a summer internship which runs for 3 months. Both programs start with an 8-hour bootcamp to prepare students for their internship roles. You will then be expected to complete 40 hours of observing, assisting, and receiving mentorship from museum staff in their designated departments. The internship includes 2-hour Career Lab sessions where curators, educators, designers, conservators, and other museum staff share their career paths and conduct workshops. Interns also have regular check-ins with their mentors and peers. At the end of the program, interns present their experiences to their peers and guests.

Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the Boston area can apply.

Dates: The internship is typically a year long.

Application deadline: None. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Stipend: $15/hour.

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston offers three unique internship programs for high school students: STEAM Team, Curatorial Study Hall, and Teen Arts Council (TAC).

  • STEAM Team: This program encourages teens to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). Interns gain behind-the-scenes experience in various STEAM fields under the guidance of MFA staff mentors. The program includes visits to local businesses, organizations, and artists, providing a broad view of potential career paths.

  • Curatorial Study Hall: This project-based internship focuses on exhibition creation, interpretation, and design. Ideal for students interested in museum operations, this program offers workshops on topics such as close-looking, research methods, proposal development, interpretation, design, promotion, and installation. Interns will explore marginalized artists in the museum’s collection, gaining a comprehensive understanding of curatorial practices.

  • Teen Arts Council (TAC): TAC is a leadership development program where interns advise the MFA on engagement strategies for local teens. They conduct programs and events for peers and the public and learn about Boston’s arts and cultural sector through interactions with local programs and institutions. TAC also hosts "Teen Night," an event featuring art-making activities and social events at the MFA.

Eligibility: Rising high school seniors residing in participating cities can apply.

Dates: June 19, 2024 - August 16, 2024. If you live in Philadelphia, you also have the option of applying for a year-long internship program called Bloomberg Arts Internship - School Year (BAISY).

Application deadline: Applications typically close in March.

Stipend: This is a paid opportunity, but information on the exact amount is not available. You can expect around 19$ /hour.

Bloomberg Philanthropies offers high school students in five cities the chance to intern with local arts and culture organizations. This program aims to develop work readiness and includes college preparation training. As an intern, you'll engage in hands-on projects, receive mentorship, and gain insights into various facets of arts administration, exhibition planning, marketing, and event coordination. Additionally, the program includes activities designed to help teens explore career paths in creative fields.

The specifics of the program may vary slightly depending on the location, but generally, students should expect to commit 30-37 hours per week to the internship. The application process also has different timelines based on the location.

Location: Brooklyn Museum, New York City, NY.

Eligibility: All high school students in New York City are eligible to apply.

Dates: The internship typically runs from September to May.

Application deadline: Information on this is not available at the moment. Check the official page in June 2024 for application-related details.

Stipend: $15/hour. MetroCards will be provided for working weekends.

In this internship program, students will delve into art, education, and museum careers by assisting teaching artists during classes for all age groups. This assistance includes preparing studios and materials, learning lesson planning techniques, and practicing classroom management skills. You will engage in discussions about the intersections of art, fashion, design, and society while interacting with artists, educators, and museum staff. 

The internship requires up to 120 hours of commitment over the school year, involving weekly 2-hour meetings on Thursdays, occasional field trips and events on Fridays, and assisting in weekend art classes for 3 hours per semester (October-December and March-May). Due to the substantial time commitment, this program may not be suitable for students involved in multiple extracurricular activities and after-school commitments.

Location: Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), New York City, NY.

Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores and juniors in NYC can apply. 

Duration/Dates: July 9, 2024 - August 16, 2024. Application deadline: Applications typically close in April.

Stipend: $16 an hour and an unlimited MetroCard for the duration of the internship.

Artslife is a 6-week program that blends art and design with leadership training, museum studies, and community engagement. You will explore careers across all museum departments, including Curatorial, Education, Development, Communications and Marketing, Visitor Services, Security, and Registrar. The first week focuses on team bonding and an introduction to the museum. The subsequent five weeks involve collaborative projects, potentially including artwork creation and visits to other cultural institutions, guided by mentors such as museum staff, local designers, and arts professionals.

MAD offers another short art internship for NYC teens: RECESS. RECESS is an intensive 4-day program designed to deepen understanding of art, art history, and museum operations. RECESS I and II are scheduled during the winter and spring breaks of NYC public schools, respectively. Both programs include developing and leading peer-to-peer tours of the museum. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to create a podcast series. You can explore podcasts created by MAD interns here.

Location: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York City, NY.

Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors in NYC are eligible to apply.

Dates: The internship typically runs from November to May.

Application deadline: There is no information available on this right now.

Stipend: $2,000 paid in two $1,000 installments.

If you're interested in exploring the field of design, this is an excellent opportunity. This program allows you to work alongside professional designers to learn how initial ideas transform into final designs through collaborative projects. The hands-on experience is enriched by access to Cooper Hewitt’s exhibitions, objects, and expert staff, providing a comprehensive learning environment.

The Design Hive program is structured with 2-hour sessions every Tuesday, where you will engage in activities that cover various aspects of design thinking and practice. The sessions are designed to inspire creativity and enhance your understanding of design processes, from concept development to execution. Throughout the program, you'll have the chance to interact with industry professionals, gain insights into different design disciplines, and develop a portfolio of your work. Additionally, the program aims to build a community of young designers who can learn from each other and collaborate on projects.

Location: Washington D.C.

Eligibility: Rising high school seniors can apply.

Dates: The program runs 8 weeks in the summer. Students can plan the exact dates via discussions with their mentors.

Application deadline: March 15, 2024.

Stipend: $3,200 ($400/week).

The Benjamin Lawless Internship honors the legacy of Benjamin Lawless, a distinguished exhibition planner, designer, Emmy-winning filmmaker, and writer. This program is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of audience engagement, exhibition design, and the research involved in creating compelling narratives around museum objects. Interns will gain hands-on experience by working closely with professionals at the Smithsonian.

During the internship, which requires a commitment of 36 hours per week, you will explore the processes of exhibition planning and design. You will learn how to research and develop stories associated with museum objects, aiming to enhance your skills in engaging diverse audiences. By the end of the program, you are expected to harness your creativity and find innovative ways to tell stories inspired by the Smithsonian’s extensive collections and research. The program includes various learning activities and projects that focus on the creative aspects of exhibition design and storytelling. This experience is intended to prepare students for future careers in museum work, design, or related fields by helping them develop their practical skills and knowledge.

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL.

Eligibility: Students aged 15–19 in Chicago can apply.

Dates: The program will run from September to June.

Application deadline: Applications typically close in May.

Stipend: Up to $1,600 a year.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago offers the Teen Creative Agency (TCA) program, a cultural leadership initiative designed for teenagers in the city. Participants in the TCA program are expected to visit the museum weekly, where they will deeply engage with contemporary art and artists. The program also includes visits to other cultural institutions, allowing interns to interact with peers and professionals in the field of arts.

The program aims to incorporate the perspectives and ideas of youth into the museum's activities. Under the guidance of expert artists, you will work on your collaboration skills and gain a deeper understanding of public engagement and creative processes. The program encourages creative expression and leadership among participants, fostering a supportive environment where teens can develop their artistic and professional skills. 

One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research in art, then you could 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, over 4,000 students applied 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.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.



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