The internship, redefined.

There are so many issues wrapped up in workplace culture, and one of them is how we treat our interns.

Interns. Young people excited about the field who go on to become our museum coworkers. Good thing or bad thing?

Many feel our current model of museum internships is broken. We don’t pay our interns who are working for us for free (presumably because they need credit, or have a passion for the work), many supervisors don’t give them meaningful work, and many are left feeling that they wasted their time. Sadly, these feelings mirror what it is like for many of our colleagues who already have museum jobs.

The dedicated NEMA YEPs have been contributing to the internship debate here in New England for a few years. They presented on their recent findings at the NEMA conference in Mystic a few weeks ago. It’s worth checking out Monica & Alli’s internship presentation if you have opinions on how the model can be changed.

Over the years I’ve tried to be the best internship supervisor I could be because I had the best supervisor of all time.  But I still can’t pay my interns much, let alone what they are actually worth. Yet they keep wanting to come work for me, every single semester. I’d like to think that it is up to the Big Museums to change the culture first, before us Little Guys catch up, but I know there’s a lot I can do that doesn’t involve money. I’m trying. Can you try, too?

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