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Leadership for Change Internship

The Smithsonian and its Smithsonian Affiliates, in collaboration with the Emerson Collective and the George Washington University, will offer the Leadership for Change Internship to rising college sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are committed to helping communities, are passionate about social justice, and are driven to accelerate positive impact in our world.

Smithsonian Affiliations is committed to helping people across the globe understand the complexity and the nuances of our world by collaborating with a network of mission-aligned Affiliate organizations in this critical work. The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, and its network of Smithsonian Affiliates believe in the power of museums and cultural organizations to strengthen and transform our world. This change cannot happen without diversity—not just of race or ethnicity, but also of ideas, experience, and perspective.

This internship provides an opportunity for students to use their dedication to social justice, combined with their skills and life experience to support museums and cultural organizations in affecting change in our communities. Students will become museum advocates and explore new ways to bring museum content, resources, and expertise to communities near and far. There are two (2) types of internship opportunities with the Smithsonian in Summer 2023.

Hybrid Internship at a Smithsonian Affiliate organization

Interns will spend 3 weeks onsite at an Affiliate organization* and 5 weeks working virtually at their home location. Students will be paired with an organization geographically near their physical location. During the 3-week, onsite portion, students will participate in hands-on activities related to their projects, meet with and learn from Affiliate mentors, and participate in on-site enrichment activities. Hybrid interns will also have the opportunity to participate in virtual enrichment programs provided by the Emerson Collective and Smithsonian Institution throughout the course of the internship.

This internship is designed to be a hybrid learning experience not to exceed 32 hours of work per week. This internship option offers the greatest flexibility for caregivers, students who want to stay local, or those who are also working during the summer and would like to still have an internship opportunity. *Pre-selected Affiliate cities will be posted on the Smithsonian Affiliations website; not all Smithsonian Affiliates are participating in this internship.

In-Person Internship in Washington, D.C.

Interns will spend 8 weeks at the Smithsonian* for a hands-on, in-person learning experience. Interns will work 3 or more days per week on-site at a Smithsonian office, not to exceed 32 hours per week. In-person interns will have the opportunity to participate in Smithsonian-wide internship activities and events in addition to enrichment activities scheduled by the Emerson Collective, and any virtual programming being offered throughout the summer.* Interns will be matched with a pre-selected group of Smithsonian museums, offices, centers, libraries, or programs; not all Smithsonian museums are participating in this internship.

Projects will vary based on placement and may include opportunities in museum advocacy, communications, exhibition development, national and community outreach, educational equity and accessibility, digital engagement, international relations, and more.

Projects will focus on one or more of 4 core topic areas:
• Women’s History
• Climate Change
• Race and Social Justice
• The Changing American Narrative (including rural initiatives, immigration, education, civics, democracy, and other topics).

The Leadership for Change Internships are made possible by the generous support of the Do A Little Foundation. 

How to Apply

Recruitment for the 2023 program begins early January and will close mid-February 2023. To apply for this internship, you will need to apply through the Emerson Collective Youth Collaborative application portal. Please check the Affiliations website for more information.

Contact Information

For questions regarding this opportunity, please contact:



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