Every year, we involve over a hundred interns in our various activities. Internships are offered year-round in various fields including cultural anthropology, folklore, ethnomusicology, museum studies, arts administration, graphic and web design, marketing, journalism, and library science. All internships take place in Washington, D.C.

Folkways intern Gunhild Pedersen shows off one of her favorite album covers along with artist Will Oldham (aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy) and archivist Jeff Place. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways

Intern projects, conducted under the guidance of the Center’s professional staff, often focus on research and production for the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives, and educational outreach.

Internships are open to students and non-students alike. They can be from six weeks to one year, full- or part-time, though working at least fifteen to twenty hours per week is preferred. Unless otherwise specified, these are non-paying internships. Students in folklore, American studies, American history, music, library science or other fields may be able to arrange course credit for their work here.

Rinzler Archives intern Colin Moore assists with a rapid capture digitization project, scanning Folkways Records album cover mechanicals. Photo by Ben Sullivan, Smithsonian Institution

Our Programs

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

We welcome interns for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival year-round, although the bulk of the work is in the summer. In the fall, winter, and spring, interns assist with research and planning for the upcoming Festival’s programs—best suited for students in anthropology, ethnomusicology, and language studies as related to the program.

In the summer, we also seek interns to work on event production, technical crew, the Festival Marketplace, social media, web production, graphic design, curatorial team, the Festival Blog, public relations, participant and volunteer coordination, video production, and administration.

Summer interns are expected to work through the ten days of the Festival during the last week of June and first week of July, including weekends and the July Fourth holiday. You should be comfortable working outdoors in high heat and humidity, in a fast-paced environment among large crowds of people.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

There are a number of opportunities for internships at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. We are a cross between a record label and a museum, so the experience is a mix of nonprofit record business and applied ethnomusicology.

Intern projects are generally in the areas of sales and marketing, social media, mail order, royalties and copyright issues, recording production, and web production with tasks that include writing, research, mailing, and data compiling and organizing. The internship is recommended for students and other individuals interested in ethnomusicology, social anthropology, music business, audio engineering, and marketing.

For those experienced in graphic design and typography, we offer an internship to assist in the design and layout of album covers and liner notes booklets. Applicants should be proficient in Adobe Creative Suite and must submit a design portfolio in addition to other application materials. Contact production manager Mary Monseur at for more information.

Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Interns in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections assist with preserving, digitizing, and cataloging archives collections, creating finding aids for collections, creating web presentations on archival materials, and helping with other projects. During the summer, archives interns create and process audio, video, and photo documentation of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in late June and early July.

We particularly welcome students in library and information studies who want an opportunity to work in a folklife archive as part of their degree program. Applicants should have a knowledge of or interest in world folk music traditions, audio engineering, photography, Photoshop, web design, or library and archival work.

Funded Internship

Rinzler Folklife Archives Summer Internship

We offer one paid summer internship in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections. This competitive internship gives the opportunity to work in collaboration with archives staff to apply collections management best practices in arranging, describing, and digitizing collections. The collections, which consist of papers,  photographs, and audiovisual media, include curatorial, ethnographic, and  programmatic content associated with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and more.

This internship is made possible through the generous support of the Scott and Dorothy Odell Internship Fund. The stipend is $300 per week for a ten-week, full-time internship. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2017.

To apply for the funded internship, visit and create an account or log in if you are a returning user. Select “Internship” and specify Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, then click on the link for “Rinzler Folklife Archives Summer Internship.”

If you have questions about the work associated with this internship, please contact assistant archivist Greg Adams at

How to Apply

To apply online, visit and create an account. After selecting Internship, specify the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the programs or projects you are most interested in. You will be asked to upload supporting materials, including an essay, résumé, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

The submission deadline for summer internships is March 15. There are no deadlines for getting applications in for the rest of the year. The completed application should be submitted at least six weeks before the start of the internship.

If you have questions, please contact intern coordinator Arlene Reiniger at

More about internships at the Smithsonian