The SERC Internship Experience
The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's (SERC) Internship Program offers undergraduate and beginning graduate students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the fields of environmental research and public engagement. This program enables students to work on independent research projects under the direction of a SERC mentor.
Since 2001 the SERC internship program has been a National Science Foundation REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) site. With this funding, along with generous donations from sources like the Smithsonian Women's Committee and university partnerships, we are able to provide internship opportunities to qualified students looking to further their knowledge in the natural sciences.
Internship projects span the range of research conducted at SERC, including environmental chemistry, marine and estuarine ecology, molecular ecology, and terrestrial ecology. Projects are also offered in public engagement, with opportunities in environmental education, citizen science, and science writing. Although students will become familiar with much of the research of SERC in general, individuals will devote most of their time to an independent research project. Students will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge in a selected field of study and to learn a variety of research techniques through firsthand experience. At the conclusion of the internship, student participants will be expected to present the findings of their independent projects in a formal seminar to the SERC community.
As an additional educational benefit, SERC maintains an ongoing seminar program that is designed to bring in noted outside speakers on a variety of topics in the environmental sciences. When conditions permit, we also offer experiential field trips to the Smithsonian museums and galleries on the National Mall.
The SERC community recognizes the value of diversity in promoting innovative science and creative solutions, and we strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply. Internships are designed as training and skill-building opportunities for students and recent grads still in the early stages of their careers. We recognize that each applicant will bring unique skills, knowledge, experiences and background to these positions, including experience that may not be directly related to science or research.
Pro tip for applicants: Don't just talk about your past experience. Show us how a SERC internship would give you something new! Smithsonian internships are meant to be learning experiences, especially for students who have had fewer opportunities outside schoolwork. Let your application reviewers know how this experience would benefit you beyond another line on a resume. See more tips for applying on our Internships FAQ page.