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Smithsonian’s Robert Frederick Smith Summer Internship: Senator John Heinz History Center Digital Processing Intern – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Smithsonian’s Robert Frederick Smith Internship and Fellowship Program seeks to build pathways for historically underrepresented individuals to grow successful careers in the cultural sector. While sponsored through the National Museum of African American History & Culture, the internship and fellowship sites are in varying locations across the country.

As part of the Smith Fund Internship and Fellowship Program, the Museum will select and provide funding for interns at select African American museums, art galleries and museums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), cultural institutions and historic sites, or other related institutions dedicated to the study and preservation of African American history and culture. All internship opportunities with this program will focus on work related to digital imaging, media preservation, digital preservation of personal and community objects, digital content management, collections information management, recording and preserving oral histories, or digital filmmaking.

Now accepting applications for Summer 2020. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST February 15, 2020.

Internships will provide guided learning experiences consisting of hands-on training, mentoring, attendance at educational events, and cultivation of contacts for the next generation of researchers, scholars, curators, and other museum, library, preservation, and heritage professionals – individuals who will assume the mantle of identifying, documenting, curating, and digitizing treasured artifacts that reflect African American history and culture.

Intern Benefits
·      $600 per week stipend to defray living expenses during the tenure of the appointment
·      Additional need-based housing and transportation stipends of $150 per week are available. Students qualify by selecting their need to pay rent during their term on the application.
·      Flexible start and end dates
·      Structured mentorship opportunities both within the Museum and with outside professionals
·      A calendar of professional development seminars catered to the needs of historically underrepresented individuals in the cultural sector
·      Paid registration and travel to attend the Association of African American Museums annual conference in Summer 2020
·      Paid professional memberships
·      Willing to complete paperwork necessary for intern to earn Academic credit (not required)

Intern Eligibility
·      Undergraduate students (must have completed at least one year of study)
·      Graduate students
·      Recent graduates (up to 2 years out of school)
·      Career-changers in the cultural field less than 2 years
·      Applications from individuals who have had prior internships or fellowships with any unit of the Smithsonian Institution will not be considered.
·      Strongest consideration will be given to applicants with no more than 1-2 prior related work experiences. 

·      Internships are 12 weeks in the summer
·      35-40 hours per week

Questions can be e-mailed to

The Senator John Heinz History Center is an educational institution that engages and inspires a large and diverse audience with links to the past, understanding in the present, and guidance for the future by preserving regional history and presenting the American experience with a Western Pennsylvania connection.

This work is accomplished in partnership with others through archaeology, archives, artifact collections, conservation, educational programs, exhibitions, library, museums, performance, publications, research, technical assistance, and increasingly through broadcast media and the internet.

Position Description: The Senator John Heinz History Center offers a unique and exciting professional opportunity that will provide significant experience and practice for museum and archival work. The 2020 intern will focus his/her work on the African American Collections of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum (WPSM), one of the museum facilities among the Western Pennsylvania Historical Society family of museums that includes the History Center Museum, Detre Library & Archives, Meadowcroft Historic Village and Rock Shelter, and the Fort Pitt Museum. The intern will learn to use the TMS catalog for museum collection management, research in the archives, and produce digital platforms for the WPSM featuring African American sports collections as well as update the WPSM webpage.

The intern will join a museum division staff of 18 including the Vice President for Museum Administration; Director of Curatorial Division/Chief Historian/Director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum; Design Director - Exhibits and Creative Services; Collections Manager; Registrar, and Director of African American Programs; curators, associates, and exhibits team. The Marketing/Communications division has a full-time staff of four that includes the Director of Marketing and Communications; Senior Digital Marketing Manager; Communications Coordinator; and Graphic Designer. The intern will have occasion to receive training from a wide variety of staff across two different divisions of the organization. 

Sample of Intern Duties:
  • Review the catalog for existing and new museum and archival collections that reflect the history and culture of African Americans in sport
  • Train for digital and graphic design skills and techniques that reflect the mission and outlook of the History Center that is consistent with standing digital platforms using Wordpress software.
  • Digitize and create metadata for Museum collections and help to illustrate the depth of the History Center’s African American collections
  • Utilize digital, photograph, and historical research skills

Learning Outcomes:
  • Current techniques of research, historic writing, digitization, online and social media design, and collection cataloging tutorial.
  • Gain familiarity with museum collection management and cataloging techniques that govern the preservation, presentation, and exhibition of three-dimensional objects
  • Learn how to use and develop digital products that will help publicize and make accessible museum collections
  • Understand and employ research methods, particularly those for African American history
  • Exposure to the day-to-day functions of a major museum and archive
  • Work with and alongside experienced curators, collection managers, marketing and digital professionals, educators, archivists, and librarians

Time Frame (flexible): May 26 - August 8, 2020
Work Culture: The operations of the Heinz History Center are fast paced, detailed, open, fair, and friendly.
Prerequisites: Interest and background in African American history and culture studies and some familiarity with museums.


Download and fill out an application form (pdf) and submit along with the documents below as Word or PDF attachments to with the email subject: "<First Name_Last Name> - Internship Application 2020" by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2020.
·        Cover letter (no more than 2 pages) detailing your past and present academic history and other experiences which you feel have prepared you for this internship and an outline of what you hope to learn during this internship.
·        Resume
·        Unofficial transcript(s)
·        2 academic and/or professional letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should be submitted by the intern applicant along with all other application materials.

Applications submitted as Google documents, links to files, or other cloud platform applications will not be considered.

Anticipated Summer 2020 Timeline

·        Applications accepted November 4, 2019 - 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2020
·        Museum staff will confirm receipt of application materials via e-mail within 2 business days of submission. Applications submitted after February 12 will be acknowledged within 5 business days. Please contact us if you do not receive a confirmation.
·        Host organizations will review applications and conduct interviews February 16 – March 17, 2020
·        All applicants notified of their status by March 31, 2020