Beth Valentine, '12, Internship with the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Smithsonian internship

"Don’t be afraid to set your sights high,” says Calvin College junior Beth Valentine. "Apply for any internship that you think sounds interesting, matches your skill set or complements what you want to do in the future.”

An art history major, Beth took her own advice to heart this summer, completing an internship with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.

In her internship, Beth worked in the New Media Initiatives office (NMI) at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. NMI develops the museum’s websites, interactive exhibits and multimedia tours. Beth’s first project was assisting in the creation of a slideshow about a Norman Rockwell exhibit. She also edited videos and posted them on the museum’s website, YouTube,, iTunes and other social media pages. Knowing that her work would be seen by thousands of people who view the museum’s website was very rewarding for Beth.

In addition to the satisfaction of seeing her work on the museum’s website, Beth enjoyed several other aspects of her internship. “My favorite part was the opportunity to learn so much about the various facets of museum work. I loved going on tours of the Smithsonian museums, visiting local art galleries, hearing lectures from Smithsonian employees and going to other social events for interns.”

Beth’s art history education was helpful in preparing her for this internship, where she had the chance to see artwork in the museum on a daily basis that she had learned about in her classes. Her minor in computer science also came in handy, as she worked with various computer languages and programs in the NMI office.

Beth’s combination of an art history major with minors in French and computer science may seem surprising, but she simply is pursuing her broad range of interests. Her suggestion to other students is to “study what you love during college,” Beth says. “I started out thinking I would double major in math and studio art before considering many other majors. I don’t view my time of exploration into various majors as a waste of time. On the contrary, I know that I learned valuable skills along the way which I have already utilized during my internship.”

Though Beth is uncertain of her future career goals, she is confident that she would love to work at a place like the Smithsonian American Art Museum again.

Written by Meredith Segur, posted August 2010