I'm sorry, but I can't get your daughter a job at the Smithsonian

When people find out I used to work at the Smithsonian (or when my mother tells them about it), they often say two things:

"Oh, I love museums!"


"Do you think you could get my daughter an internship there?"

(Or son or nephew or cousin or what have you.)

It happened again today. My sweet mother forwarded an email to me from a woman who wants to get her daughter a summer photography internship at the Smithsonian. Umm...I felt really bad, but I had to tell this woman that a.) I do not have any photography contacts at the Smithsonian and b.) the summer deadline for internships was back in February. But I did give her information on how to apply for future internships and what websites to look over.

And now I start a minor rant...

Sometimes I get a little frustrated when people ask me to hook up their children with a Smithsonian internship, like I'm some sort of power player in the museum mafia. (But then I tell myself that they just want what's best for their kids.) I guess my frustration stems from how little control I have over this please-be-my-connection-to-the-Smithsonian thing. People just don't realize how low on the totem pole I was at Air and Space---I mean, I was basically one baby step ahead of the interns! I was a little speck. A nothing.

So my hands are really tied when someone gives me their son's email address and expects me to wave my magical museum wand (they took mine away after I left). At times, I just want to shake these people and say, "Tell your son to get good grades! Have him take classes in museum studies! Find him an internship at a smaller museum!"

Because at the end of the day, having a good academic record and gaining real museum experience is the recipe to interning at the Smithsonian. It's not about who you know (although it can help if one of your parents works there), it's about what you bring to the table.

Okay, now my rant is finished. I feel much better now.

To recap, I do not have any amazing connections to land your child a Smithsonian internship. But if you just want advice on how to get one, I am more than willing to answer questions, dole out my not-so-sage advice (ie, don't date your co-workers!), and help you with your applications.

Honestly, I feel amazingly blessed that I got to work at NASM. Really, really blessed. Extremely lucky too. And if your kid wants to intern there, I'll be her biggest cheerleader! But I really am not the person who can get your child a Smithsonian internship. Nobody remembers my name there anyway...

That is all.