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Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of our frequently asked questions review them below and if you have any additional questions not listed, please contact us! We're happy to assist you.

Yes! You can apply for multiple internships, as long as you meet the requirements. You’ll want to make sure that each internship you apply for is aligned with your learning objectives.  

You must be at least 14 years old to apply for a Smithsonian internship. While most internship opportunities are intended for undergraduate or graduate students, there are some opportunities intended specifically for high school students. Age or educational requirements are listed on each opportunity. Any applicant who is under eighteen (18) years of age must complete and upload a parental consent form. Please contact us to request this form.

No, you do not need to be a student or currently enrolled in a school to apply for a Smithsonian internship. If you can find an internship opportunity that matches your education and/or career goals, we encourage you to apply.  

Many Internship programs are open to non-U.S. citizens. Read the internship opportunity description carefully. If there is a citizenship requirement, it should be listed. International applicants should make sure they have the appropriate work authorizations in place. (See “International Interns” below.) 

Some schools provide academic credit for internships; please work with your school directly to arrange credit before you start an internship at the Smithsonian.   

If you are selected for an internship, you may receive a tentative offer from the hosting unit. However, your internship acceptance is only official when you receive the award letter from OIP, you sign it and return it with all the required paperwork before the deadline listed on the letter.   

Securing a Smithsonian internship does not guarantee employment. In fact, there are regulations in place preventing Smithsonian staff from guaranteeing a paid position at the end of an internship. However, Smithsonian staff are always happy to provide career advice and guidance around the job application process.    

Not all internships include a stipend; internship opportunity listings should indicate whether or not a stipend is included.  

It is important to distinguish the difference between a job and an internship. A job pays a wage to an employee who is directed to perform certain tasks by a supervisor. An internship is a guided learning experience. An intern may be directed to perform tasks by a mentor, but the focus of those tasks and the entire internship is on the intern’s learning. A stipend is offered to help cover living expenses during the tenure of the internship.  

For US Citizens: Your stipend is not considered a wage and the Smithsonian will not withhold  taxes from your stipend payments. However, the IRS does consider stipends to be income.  Most stipends alone do not rise to the threshold of taxable income, but you should consider the  amount of your stipend and what other income you may have to report to the IRS. We strongly  encourage interns to consult with a tax expert to determine their filing status.   


For International Interns: Taxes may be withheld from your stipend depending on whether the  US has a treaty in place with your country. Please contact us for more information. 

Because interns at the Smithsonian are guided during their learning experience, they can apply for workers’ comp just like paid employees.

Because interns at the Smithsonian are guided by a mentor during their learning experience, they are generally covered by the Smithsonian against claims of liability during their tenure. 

As a non-U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you will need to present proof of legal authorization to participate in your  internship. 

If you are coming from outside the U.S. and do not hold a current U.S. immigration status, the  Smithsonian may be able to help you in securing a J-1 “Exchange Visitor” visa.  The Office of  International Relations (OIR) is a designated sponsor of the J-1 Exchange Visitor  Program. Please note that if you are seeking J-1 sponsorship through the Office of International  Relations, it is recommended that you begin the process at least two months prior to the  start of  your internship to allow for processing times at embassies and consulates.  

If you are already in the U.S. with a particular immigration status, you may be eligible to use that  visa for a Smithsonian internship. If accepted as an Intern at the Smithsonian, you will be asked  to complete the Foreign National Request Form and submit it to the Office of International  Relations who will determine your eligibility. Once OIR gives clearance, OIP will collect your immigration documents.   

If you are member of an Indigenous Tribe of North America proof of affiliation is sufficient status. Please contact OIR for next steps.

All foreign appointees who are conducting their internships in the United States, with a tenure  length of 3 months or longer, must open a US bank account. If your appointment is less than 3  months, you may choose to either open a US bank account or submit a Wire Transfer Form (this  will be linked to your bank outside of the US).  

You do not need a Social Security Card in order to participate in an internship at the  Smithsonian. However, if you are participating in a paid internship, you will eventually need to  apply for either a SSN or ITIN in order to file taxes.  

Yes, all paid non-U.S. interns will receive a 1042-S form. This form will be provided to you  sometime in March/February of the following calendar year. More information about the IRS  1042-S Form -  

For appointments at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) onboarding may look a little different. For specific requirements for immigration (visas), housing, paperwork, and any other questions, we encourage you to look at their internship page for specific details. You are always welcome to contact us and we can also put you in touch with the coordinators at STRI.

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