Internships & Careers
What is an internship?
In the course of obtaining an art history degree at UM/A, many students choose to include an internship as part of their education. In our field, most internships involve working on a specific project with a museum, historical association, or gallery. Other types of institutions have also served as venues for internships of UM/A students, but most UM/A internships are carried out in art museums. Here the projects our students have successfully completed vary widely. Among recent projects are: the installation of part of a permanent museum collection in galleries; the preparation of a textbook for use in a cooperative museum education venture between a museum and a neighboring college; research for the catalogue of an exhibition; assistance in curating an exhibition; curating an exhibition; researching label texts; participating in a survey of a major component of a collection to determine questions of conservation, deaccession, and storage; and helping to install a major museum education gallery.
What advantages does an internship provide?
In addition to providing you with a valuable opportunity to learn about museum or other institutional work on a first-hand and practical basis, internships are often integrated with other aspects of your work toward a degree at UM/A.
Professional network contacts made during internships may prove immensely valuable when you are looking for a job. Internship supervisors can also be a source of job or graduate school recommendations, and internships listed on your CV can be an indication both of the breadth and the depth of your preparation for a career.
How do I arrange for an internship?
There are several avenues open. One is to utilize the sources of the Office of Internships on campus, which keeps a file of institutions looking for interns for specific projects. Another is by asking staff in local or regional museums if they have projects available, and determining your own suitability for these projects. Yet another is to ask UM/A Art History faculty for suggestions and assistance in finding an internship that is ideal for you. And last of all, you might propose a project to an institution, and offer to help in finding grant money to finance that project. Typically, internships held by UM/A students result from the initiative of students, although we also have on-going relationships with certain institutions (such as the Smith College Museum of Art) that include regular internships with the interns recommended by the UM/A faculty. As a bonus, a significant number of museum staff supervisors of UM/A internships in local museums were themselves once UM/A student interns.
What’s the difference between a paying and non-paying internship?
Certain museums (like the Metropolitan Museum) have regular internship programs that have competitive admissions and carry a stipend. These typically run during the summer. Several UM/A students have held such internships in the past; they are highly competitive and usually involve project-specific jobs within the museum, with close supervision. Normally, internships of this type do not carry academic credit. Non-paying internships (which are of course easier to obtain) can be combined with other activities to produce academic credit.
In a typical case, a student arranged with her hometown museum to do a summer internship, and at the same time found a UM/A faculty member to sponsor the academic part of the internship. In the spring, a contract was drawn up, in which the student agreed to keep a detailed day-by-day journal of her summer internship work, and to read several books on museum work suggested by the faculty sponsor. Her supervisor agreed to write a letter to the faculty sponsor at the end of the summer summing up and evaluating her work. In the fall she signed up for an Independent Study course of three credits, and also worked on a research paper based on her summer internship. At the end of the fall semester, the faculty sponsor’s evaluation of her written work, her journal and her supervisor’s comments on her performance resulted in a grade and academic credit.
Where do I start?
Museum and other internships for art history students can be a valuable part of your education. Check out local museums, talk with your advisor and with fellow students who have completed internships, and explore the possibility of doing one yourself!
The American Alliance of Museums (AAM): http://www.aam-us.org
College Art Association (CAA): http://www.collegeart.org
Global Museum: http://www.globalmuseum.org
Museum Employment Resource Center (MERC): http://www.museum-employment.com
Museum Stuff: http://www.museumstuff.com/
New England Museum Association: http://www.nemanet.org
New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA): https://www.nyfa.org/Classifieds