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An internship at SAM provides selected students and early-career professionals with a wide range of opportunities and experiences in the museum field. Interns work directly with SAM staff on collaborative projects that are relevant to their career goals and that visibly impact the museum’s programs, exhibitions, community partnerships, and more. Our program includes staff mentorship, career development workshops, informational interviews, and other opportunities for interns to develop their own perspectives, gain a better understanding of how to navigate a career in museums, and build lasting relationships with working professionals of diverse backgrounds.

As SAM looks to the future of the museum field, we recognize the structural and institutional barriers that unpaid internships pose to the next generation of arts professionals. All internships are paid and we do not require prior museum experience or an advanced arts degree to apply.

What to know

SAM offers internships across several departments, each with its own eligibility requirements and timelines.

There are six different types of internship roles at SAM: Emerging Arts Leader internships, SAM Staff internships, SAM Departmental internships, Frances Blakemore & Griffith Way internships, and Betty Bowen Award internships.

New opportunities are posted to the SAM Careers page every three to four months and applications are open for at least six weeks.

SAM does not use an automated system to screen internship applications. All submission materials are directly reviewed by HR before being forwarded to the hiring committee.

Several supplementary documents are required as part of every internship application. We request that all materials be submitted in PDF format, including resumes.

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Internship Roles

Emerging Arts Leader

Emerging Arts Leader (EAL) internships aim to open career pathways for individuals who bring dynamic backgrounds and perspectives to their work in art, museums, or community engagement. These interdisciplinary experiences provide professionals from diverse backgrounds with an in-depth understanding of SAM’s operations, programming, and audiences. While diversity can embody many characteristics, this internship program is intended to engage with historically under-represented groups in the museum field including, but not limited to, individuals of African American, Asian, Latin/Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander descent.

We offer three models for EAL internships, each lasting 10–12 weeks.

EAL Exploratory

Focusing on projects that connect with departments, this model exposes interns to the structure and management of interdepartmental work at SAM. It is designed for interns who learn best through an interdisciplinary approach, or who are interested in exploring multiple career paths.

EAL Departmental

Focusing on projects in one department, this model provides interns with an in-depth understanding of the work being completed by a particular team at SAM. It is designed for interns who are already aware of the area of museum work they would like to pursue as a career.

Emerging Museum Professional (EMP)

Focusing on one or more long-term projects, this model provides specialized training in a specific area of museum work. EMP internships are generally six months or more in duration and are designed for individuals interested in pursuing leadership opportunities in museums or who are pursuing graduate-level education in art curation, conservation, or a similar field of study.

SAM Staff internships

As part of our EAL program, a minimum of two internships per year are reserved for current SAM staff working in frontline roles. This internship provides existing staff with multidisciplinary on-the-job training while helping them build new skills, develop professional relationships, and become more competitive applicants for the next step in their careers.

Staff interns work with SAM’s Intern Coordinator to balance responsibilities as an intern with their current schedule at SAM. All SAM Staff interns are kept at their regular pay rate, employment status, and benefits eligibility.

SAM Staff internships are generally 15 weeks long and occur from October to March and April to September. Candidates must be non-exempt, hourly employees with at least one year of experience at SAM (as either a paid employee, intern, or volunteer).

SAM Departmental internships

Departmental internship opportunities vary each quarter depending on current projects and staff capacity. Host departments include Communications and Marketing, Conservation, Curatorial, Development, Education and Public Programs, Facilities and Operations, and Museum Services.

Working alongside staff mentors to set learning objectives, complete hands-on projects, and advance the strategic goals of their specific department, these internships often require specific skill sets and may vary in duration, project scope, and education requirements.

Frances Blakemore & Griffith Way internships

The Blakemore Foundation supports our goal of furthering scholarship in Asian art and culture by generously sponsoring the Frances Blakemore & Griffith Way Internship Program. These internships offer meaningful career development opportunities to currently enrolled graduate and advanced undergraduate students at the University of Washington. These interns can expect to gain professional research experience in East Asian art history, work directly with SAM’s Asian art collection, and participate in major exhibition and publication projects.

Applications for Frances Blakemore & Griffith Way internships generally open in May of each year.

Betty Bowen Award internships

Under the direction of SAM’s Associate Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art, the Betty Bowen Award Intern supports the planning, organization, and implementation of the annual Betty Bowen Award, which recognizes outstanding visual artists currently living and working in the Pacific Northwest.

Responsibilities include assisting with all aspects of award administration, coordinating and attending committee meetings, promoting the call for entries, organizing artist applications, corresponding with artists about the award, and writing press releases and mailings.

Applications for Betty Bowen Award interns generally open in April of each year.

Application process


Resumes are a key summary of your professional, academic, and other relevant experience. Be sure to include any personal accomplishments outside of work and school—including past internships, passion projects, and community service—that demonstrate your unique skill set and perspective.

Personal statement

Every internship will have a slightly different prompt for the personal statement, so make sure to carefully read the instructions provided. Similar to a cover letter, a personal statement is a short explanation of why you are interested in an internship at SAM. This is your opportunity to further highlight your past experiences, your interest in museum work, what you hope to gain from a SAM internship, and your vision for what the next steps in your career might be.

Letters of recommendation

Up to two letters of recommendation are required as part of every internship application. These can be from past supervisors, teachers, mentors, colleagues, or anyone else who can speak specifically to your interests, career goals, and/or quality of work. Please have your letters submitted via email to with your name in the subject line.

Application review

A hiring committee of SAM staff reviews all eligible candidates and selects finalists to move to the next stage of the hiring process. Review may take up to four weeks following the application deadline.

Panel interviews

Finalists will be notified via email and an interview with the hiring committee will be scheduled. The email will include several time slots for scheduling, as well as a full preview of the interview questions. Interviews are held over Zoom and take about 45 minutes.

Offer & onboarding

It may take up to four weeks to complete the interview process and reach a final decision. Finalists will be contacted via email or by phone with an internship offer and information on next steps. Candidates who are not selected will be notified via email when a final candidate has been confirmed.

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Internship FAQ

No. While previous experience as a museum volunteer or intern is helpful, we recognize that these kinds of opportunities often come with significant barriers. Instead of a minimum education or experience requirement, we intentionally keep an open mind toward alternative qualifications when making hiring decisions.

We offer internships to museum professionals at any stage of their career journey, including recent graduates and early career professionals. Some programs do have specific eligibility requirements, and those are always included in the job description.

Students seeking academic credit are required to coordinate all details with their educational program or institution prior to starting their work at SAM.

It may take several weeks for someone to submit a letter of recommendation on your behalf. We strongly recommend that you request letters as early as possible, as we cannot guarantee a review of your application if it is incomplete. Please have all letters of recommendation sent to with your name in the subject line.

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