(Museum Studies program, Central Washington University)
(Please note: these guidelines will be revised and updated as appropriate.)
The internship process is a vital component of the Museum Studies program at Central. Each student should secure a range of meaningful experiences exposing her or him to professional practices in museums or related cultural institutions. Ideally, your range of internship experiences will expose you to different components of museum operations, such as collections management, exhibition development, public programs or K-12 museum education.
Six internship credits are required, at forty contact hours per credit, for a total of 240 hours, at a minimum. Two credits per quarter during the academic year is usually a reasonable strategy; 80 hours amounts to about eight hours per week during a ten week quarter. During a summer, it might make sense to aim for three or four credits.
Well in advance of the quarter in question, you should consult carefully with the Museum Studies Faculty Advisor (Dr. Auslander) about which internship options make the most sense given your specific academic interests and professional goals. In general, we recommend a student do a mixture of hours at an external museum (such as the Kittitas County Historical Museum, the Yakima Valley Museum, or the Seattle Art Museum) and some hours at the CWU Museum of Culture and Environment. A mixture of experiences, in small and large museum settings, often makes sense.
Applying for an Internship
Please be aware that even non-paying internships at many museums are extremely competitive and that you should begin the application process as early as possible. Your Museum Studies faculty members are happy to advise and help out in this process, but remember that part of the internship experience is learning to take initiative. Consult the museum’s website and locate information on Internships; you may need to look under “Volunteer” or “Education” pages. Don’t be shy about calling the museum up and finding out the application procedure.
Please let your Museum Studies faculty know as soon as possible if we will need to write you a letter of recommendation. Please be sure we have your updated resume or C.V,, and any other information that will help us make an effective recommendation for you. We are happy to review your resume and application essay with you. In some cases, you may be asked to interview for the position; please be sure to present yourself professionally and be ready to articulate clearly your museum interests and background.
If you wish to undertake an internship at the Museum of Culture and Environment, you must also apply in writing, in advance of the quarter in question. It is best, for interns with the Museum Collections Manager (Ms. Lynn Bethke) if you have first taken the Collections Management class, Anth 363 but this is not always required. There are usually internship opportunities at the MCE emphasizing exhibition development and K-12 education.
Please fill out Central’s Cooperate Education forms, available at
and be sure to submit these and register for the internship credits in Cooperate Education (Anth 490) in a timely fashion.
Internship Agreement and Expectations for the Internship
A written internship agreement helps to specify the precise duties you will have as an intern. Your internship should involve you in substantive work in a museum setting, either “frontstage” or “backstage.” Inevitably, all interns do some mundane tasks, but most of the work should be intellectually challenging and immerse you in a professional setting that will be useful to you in your education and future career. If you do not feel you are being sufficiently trained or challenged, please let your work supervisor and faculty supervisor know so we can collaboratively find better options.
We expect that Museum Studies will strive to do first rate work in their internship, at times “going above and beyond the call of duty.” Remember that a recommendation from a museum work supervisor can be crucial for securing paid employment after graduation and can be very helpful in graduate program admissions. Your faculty rely heavily on reports from your internship work supervisors in writing our recommendations for employment or graduate admissions. We understand that you need to balance your regular academic work and internship responsibilities, but whenever possible, please make every effort to meet and surpass your supervisor’s expectations.
Please be sure to keep in close touch with your work supervisor, and confirm regularly if your work is meeting her or his expectations. Please let your faculty advisor know if you are encountering any challenges or problems during the internship. We are also happy to give feedback on work products in process, such as draft labels or proposed lesson plans.
We advise that you keep a record of your email correspondence with your work supervisor, so that there is clear documentation of the expectations you have attempted to fulfill.
Please email at the end of each week a report on your activities that week (about 200 words) to your faculty advisor (usually, Prof. Auslander), including the number of hours worked. If your internship is during the academic year, please come to at least one face to face meeting with your faculty supervisor in the middle of the quarter to discuss in person how the internship is going.
At the end of the quarter, please submit a written essay (at least 1500 words) on your overall internship experience: Did the internship give you direct exposure to issues you have explored through your readings in your Museum Studies classes? What were the greatest challenges you faced and how well did you overcome those? What skills did you learn and what insights do you gain? What advice would you give for future students interning at this institution and what advice would you give to the host institution?
Please indicate if this report may be shared with your work supervisor or others at the host institution. Your report should include a week by week log of hours worked, so do be sure to record that information week by week.
An important goal of your internship is to develop your Museum Studies portfolio, which may be of great interest to future potential employers or graduate admissions committees. Please archives all your ‘work products’ on an electronic on-line portfolio site, such as http://my.carbonmade.com/ This would include photographs and descriptions of object mounts created, draft exhibition labels, proposed or completed installation designs, K-12 lesson plans, content lists and photographs of traveling trunks, social media outreach work, or any other materials that represent what you have accomplished and learned “on the job” in museum settings.
At the end of the quarter, please be sure to meet with your faculty advisor to review your final report and your on line digital portfolio.
Each spring quarter, students will present on their internship experiences to Museum Studies faculty and students. Stay tuned for details.
POTENTIAL INTERNSHIP SITES
Most students will undertake internships in Washington State. However, we encourage students to explore internship possibilities elsewhere, nationally or internationally. Remember that summer internship applications at major institutions, such as the Smithsonian museums in Washington DC, may be due as early as January.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, but will get you started:
(Note that wikipedia has a list of museums in Washington State:
Kititas County Historical Museum (Ellensburg)
Clymer Museum and Gallery (Ellensburg)
Olmstead Place State Park (Ellensburg)
Yakima Valley Museum
Wanapum Heritage Center
Yakima Nation Museum/Heritage Center
Maryhill Museum of Art
Hanford Reach Interpretive Center
Moses Lake Museum and Art Center
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (University of Washington)
EMP Museum (Experience Museum Project and Science Fiction Museum)
Museum of History and Industry
Seattle Art Museum
Pacific Science Center (Seattle Center)
Wing Luke Museum of the Pacific Asian American Experience
Frye Art Museum
Museum of Flight (Tukwila)
Smithsonian Institution Internships (Washington D.C)
Internships at the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest collection of museums, are highly sought after, but well worth pursuing, especially if you have the ability to spend a summer in Washington D.C. Most are unpaid, but some (such as the minority internship program) provide paid stipends. Read carefully through the descriptions at:
Please consult your Museum Studies faculty before applying, since we have many contacts in the Smithsonian system.
Note that deadlines for summer internships at the Smithsonian are usually between January and March; check the website for each internship program is make sure you are applying in time!