By Mariana Montoya
The Smithsonian Undergraduate internship program is being offered to four East Los Angeles College students who are interested in Museum studies.
The deadline to apply is Friday. Applications will be reviewed throughout the summer, and after the interview process, students will be notified about their acceptance.
The internship will take place during the winter session and it is split into two parts.
The people who review the applications are internship manager for Vincent Price Art Museum Joseph Valencia; Pilar Tompkins Rivas museum manager; along with two more judges that vary between professors and deans.
During the internship program students will have a chosen occupation that caters to their personal career goals and interests.
Some of the occupations that may be available to students include archivists, conservators, curators, exhibit designer, graphic designer and historians.
Students will have a mentor who will guide them through the whole process and will enrich their experience by providing all sorts of different training that fits the need of the occupation they were placed in.
This is also a way for students to be able to network with different people in the area of interest.
“This program is basically created to mentor the next generation of museum leaders and part of what makes it special is that there are very few partnerships with the Smithsonian in general for students getting their Associates degree or Bachelor’s degree,” Valencia said.
The first part of the internship takes place in Los Angeles.
“Here in LA we have an intensive program about a week and four days that we spend with the students to prepare them. We do a lot of behind the scenes tours of other institutions and talk about how museums are structured, give a little background experience on museum studies and how institutions have developed in terms of area of focus,” Tompkins Rivas said
The second part of the internship is held in Washington D.C.
“In Washington D.C. each person will live in an apartment and each person is basically given a fulltime job. You are working forty hours a week with a mentor that is embedded in their department,” said Tompkins Rivas.
During their stay at Washington D.C, students also get the chance to explore different areas and their museums.
The internship itself is a partnership between the Smithsonian Museum and ELAC VPAM.
“Most of the students that work with the Smithsonian are either in high school or in graduate programs getting their Masters or PHD,” Tompkins Rivas said.
“That makes our program here at ELAC really special and one of a kind. Part of why they were interested is because the students demographics is composed by students of color and lots of first generation students, but also because we have a museum with seven galleries as opposed to only one.”
The main focus of this internship is to open this opportunity to all students regardless of their grade point average, major, school year or former experience in the field.
The main requirement is to be a student at ELAC.
“The program is based on a couple of things in terms of the selection process. We would like to hear from students and what their interests are in doing this internship specifically, what it is to learn about museums and museums studies and how does that align with someone’s career goals, ”said Tompkins Rivas.
Students from different majors are encouraged to apply as museums have different occupations that can fit different areas of study.
“We try to be responsive to what the students want to learn about,” Tompkins Rivas said.
If the student is selected for the program, they present that to the Smithsonian and then they do their best to match the intern to a mentor in the area the student wants to explore, and what the Smithsonian has.
According to Valencia the goal is to be able to give this opportunity for any student to enter and to acquire experiences that may help them with their careers or help students choose a career path.
“We do not have a specific set minimum requirement of previous work experience or GPAs, but we are looking to further opportunities for students and definitely see how this can be advantageous for aligning with the students career goals,” said Tompkins Rivas.
The application process is all on the Vincent Price Art Museum website.
The internship comes as an initiative to eventually be able to bring a museum certificate program at ELAC.