Q: How do I apply?
A: Register at the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointments (SOLAA) system. Once you have set up an account, click "Start Your Application" and select "Smithsonian Environmental Research Center" from the Office/Museum/Research Center drop-down menu. "Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Internship Program" will then appear under the search results. Click the green "Apply Now" button.
You will need to provide an essay, CV or resume, academic transcript (unofficial is preferred), and one letter of recommendation.
Q: What are the application deadlines?
A: Winter/Spring projects (January - April): November 15
Summer projects (May - August): February 15
Fall projects (September - December): June 1
Q: Are these paid internships?
A: Yes! Selected candidates will receive a stipend of $625.00 per week.
Q: How many hours per week should I expect to work for this internship?
A: SERC internships are full-time, so you can expect to work a full 40-hour workweek, Monday through Friday. If you’re working remotely, hours can be based on your time zone (so West Coast interns would work from 8am-4:30pm or 9am-5:30pm Pacific Time, not Eastern Time).
Q: Can I receive academic credit?
A: The Smithsonian awards no academic credit for studies conducted at the Institution. However, SERC is eager to assist in establishing mechanisms for universities to award credit to students. Representatives of colleges and universities wishing to develop formal agreements should contact the Office of Fellowships and Internships. Students are encouraged to work out direct arrangements with advisors and departments.
Q: Can I live on campus?
A: There is limited on-site dormitory space available for $105.00 per week. SERC does not supply board, but the dorms are equipped with full kitchens. We can accommodate up to 28 residents.
Q: Do I need to bring a car?
A: SERC is located about 10 miles south of Annapolis, Maryland. We recommend interns bring a vehicle for personal transportation, if possible. SERC has a fleet of vehicles available for work purposes. For those interns without a personal vehicle, ride-sharing with interns who have vehicles generally works out.
Q: What should I include in the personal essay?
A: Describe your interest in environmental studies, why you are interested in interning at the Smithsonian, and any relevant background experience. You may also use this section to describe your future career goals and how a SERC internship will help you. Essays for all internships should be no longer than 4 double-spaced pages.
Pro tip for personal essays: Don't just talk about your past experience. Show us how this 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.
For science writing applicants only: You must also include 1-3 published or unpublished writing samples as part of the essay portion. Additional writing samples for the science writing internship should be no more than 10 pages (not including the personal essay). Multimedia samples are also welcome, though not required, as long as at least one writing sample is written. Include multimedia samples as links in the personal essay, or email them to Kristen Goodhue. A wide variety of writing samples are accepted, and they don't have to be published. For more information, check out the Science Writing Internship page.
Q: How many letters of recommendation are needed for SERC internship application?
A. Even though the SOLAA application states that two letters of recommendation are required, SERC only requires one for a complete application. If there are more, it is not a problem, but you only need one to satisfy our requirements.
Q: What if my recommendation writer doesn’t meet the Feb. 15 deadline?
A: SERC generally allows a 2-week grace period for recommendation letters to come in, since we know this part of the process is partly beyond the applicant’s control. It’s always best to give your recommenders plenty of notice and encourage them to submit their letters by the deadline. Many times the email link sent to referees goes into SPAM folder and is missed, so please remind your referees to check those folders as well.
Q: What if my recommendation writer is having trouble submitting their letter in SOLAA?
A: Have your recommender email their letter directly to Alison Cawood (CawoodA@si.edu), noting whose application the letter goes with. We will be able to upload their letter to your application in SOLAA.
Have a different question?
Contact Alison Cawood at CawoodA@si.edu