The Museum of Contemporary Art internship program welcomes students and recent graduates who wish to broaden their education and professional experience by working and learning in a not-for-proﬁt museum. All MCA departments offer experiential education in a challenging, hands-on environment in exchange for a substantive contribution from talented and interested individuals.
The MCA, in its 220,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, presents its renowned collection and an ambitious schedule of cutting-edge exhibitions as well as educational and outreach programs. MCA interns have the unique opportunity to participate in the development and expansion of these programs and operations.
There are three application deadlines and selection periods per year. Internships require a minimum commitment of sixteen hours per week for three months, during which time interns complete a speciﬁc target project as well as daily assignments. Interns also participate in departmental meetings, special events, and various educational programs, as well as attend staff lectures.
In order to increase diversity in professions related to museums and the arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art seeks diversity in its intern staff and provides equal opportunity to its applicants.
Please refer to our FAQ page to learn more about our program.
The Application Process
Application materials include the MCA application form, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. If applicable, include your school’s requirements for credit with your application. The curatorial, editorial, and fundraising and membership departments require 1–2 pages writing samples with applications. The graphic design, Multimedia Web, and Multimedia Video departments require work samples.
Submitting your application by email
Applications may be submitted electronically by emailing email@example.com and attaching the MCA application form, resume, two letters of recommendation, and any additional materials by the appropriate deadline. Letters of recommendation may be submitted separately with the applicant’s name in the subject line.
When submitting an application by email, please label your materials in the following order; last name, first name, underscore and type of document. For example, if your name is John Doe, your resume should be labeled as follows: Doe,John_resume.
Submitting your application by mail
Application materials may also be mailed to:
Internship and Volunteer Coordinator
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Application materials are reviewed for approximately six to eight weeks after the deadline. Candidates for interviews will be notiﬁed by email. Due to the high level of interest in internships, the MCA contacts only a small percentage of applicants. Calls and emails are not accepted regarding the status of internship applications. Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered.
Download the Internship Application Form
The MCA does not offer paid internships but does participate in some cooperative education programs. Students interested in cooperative education or academic credit should contact their college placement office or counselor for more information.
Application Deadlines (three yearly)
|Internship Term||Application Deadline|
|Summer Term (May – August):||February 15|
|Fall Term (September – December):||July 15|
|Winter/Spring Term (January – May):||November 15|
Please address all application materials (including letters of recommendation) to:
Internship and Volunteer Coordinator
Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago IL 60611
Those interested in applying after a deadline are invited to contact the MCA internship office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jimmy Jones Internship Summer Term
The Museum of Contemporary Art’s Jimmy Jones Internship was established to honor the memory of Dr. James E. “Jimmy” Jones, a dedicated member of the MCA’s Board of Trustees from 1978–2006. During his extraordinary life, Dr. Jones was a leader in Chicago’s cultural community, a passionate collector of contemporary art, a Captain in the U.S. Air Force, and an OB/GYN who in the late 1960s became the first African-American clinical associate at the University of Chicago Hospital.
Jimmy Jones epitomized the true Renaissance spirit: a humanitarian and man of science who was keenly interested in the work of contemporary artists and how their practice can be a reflection of and catalyst for societal change.
The Jimmy Jones Internship is designed to encourage the exploration of art museum careers by university students with diverse backgrounds who require supplementary income to participate in an unpaid internship. Students interested in a curatorial career will receive special consideration. A stipend of $2,500 is available each summer.
To be eligible, a candidate must:
- Meet all the requirements of the Internship Program listed on the MCA website;
- Currently be enrolled in a college or university;
- Provide documentation from the college or university the candidate is attending showing that the candidate has been approved for or is receiving financial aid;
- Submit an essay of no less than 600 words explaining the candidate’s interest in an art museum career and why he or she should be considered for the Jimmy Jones Internship (This requirement is separate from the personal statement all internship applicants are asked to write);
- Provide a resume and a general internship application form.
All application materials must be received by January 15, 2015
Greg Cameron Internship – Spring Term
The Museum of Contemporary Art’s Greg Cameron Internship has been established to recognize the dedication of Greg Cameron, a long-time and key member of the MCA staff whose leadership and passion set an example for the entire MCA family for nearly 20 years. Now a devoted supporter of the MCA, Greg Cameron’s commitment to enriching the arts in Chicago continues to inspire. Each winter/spring, beginning in 2009, the Greg Cameron Intern will receive a stipend of $2,500.
The MCA will consider all applicants who have been accepted to the program during the winter/spring term regardless of department. Qualified applicants should meet the requirements of the Internship Program listed on the MCA website and will be asked to write an essay on a topic proposed by the selection committee. The MCA seeks increased diversity in the MCA Internship Program and provides equal opportunity to its applicants. Qualified candidates will be notified of the details upon acceptance to the program.
Interns assist with various aspects of accounting for a not-for-proﬁt institution-accounts payable and receivable processing, account reconciliation, and the month-end general ledger. Interns may also assist with special accounting projects. Candidates must have completed some accounting coursework, be detail oriented, and have strong computer skills.
Interns gain exposure to the internal functions of the MCA through a variety of projects in the Administration, Visitor Services, and Human Resources departments. Responsibilities include assisting with further developing the volunteer and internship programs, as well as formalizing and documenting administration procedures, policies, and operations. Candidates must be detail oriented and have excellent organizational skills. They should also have basic computer and word processing skills.
Interns gain practical experience working directly with the MCA Collection Registrar and the Special Exhibitions Registrars. Interns assist with daily operations involving collections management, exhibition organization, research, and contracts. Interns are also responsible for daily tasks including typing, ﬁling, data entry, and use of collections management software. Candidates must have excellent organizational skills and be detail oriented. Applicants should have computer and general administrative skills.
Not available for fall term.
Interns assist with research projects and administrative tasks including preparing artists’ bibliographies and biographies and responding to general inquiries from scholars and the public about artists and artworks. Interns may also assist with writing gallery labels, data entry, copying articles, typing, ﬁling, and preparing correspondence. Applicants should include a one- to two-page writing sample from an academic paper with application. Candidates must have excellent organizational skills and be detail oriented. They should also have computer and administrative skills.
Editorial interns gain exposure to all aspects of museum publishing by assisting in the production in a wide range of materials: exhibition catalogues, labels, wall texts, advertisements, brochures, invitations, and other museum ephemera. Speciﬁc responsibilities may include proofreading, editing, writing, and research, as well as administrative tasks such as compiling a bibliography of MCA books in print. Candidates must be detail oriented and have excellent organizational and communication skills. Applicants should include a one- to two-page writing sample from an academic paper and may be asked to take a proofreading test as part of the application process.
Not available for fall term.
Interns within the Education Department may support for one of four departmental areas: Interpretive Practices, Adult Public Programs, Family and Youth Programs, or School and Teacher Programs. Interns are encouraged to gain experience across the department and may be asked to support major departmental programs and initiatives.
Interns perform administrative activities such as the preparation of program materials, research, correspondence, scheduling, website maintenance, photo archives, and other projects as assigned. They provide logistical support in the execution of evening and weekend events.
Candidates must have excellent organizational, project management, and research skills. Basic computer skills are also required. Candidates must be comfortable interacting with the public. Knowledge of contemporary art practices is preferred.
Interpretive Practices interns learn about interpretive museum strategies, and observe and gain experience in research, program development, and assessment. They assist in the planning and implementation of lectures, panel discussions, and gallery talks, as well as the development of other interpretive tools and programs. The interns support audience research such as exit surveys in the galleries, and content research for exhibitions. Interns may also gain experience developing executive summaries of the research.
Education—Adult Public Programs
Public Programs interns learn about the process of program development and develop a full range of design, delivery, and debriefing skills. They assist in the planning, execution, and delivery of interdisciplinary programming including First Fridays, Tuesday Evening Programs, and other events. Interns may interact with artists, vendors, and technical staff during the execution of events. Due to participation in events where alcohol is served, candidates must be at least 21 years of age.
Education—Family and Youth Programs
Family and Youth Programs interns learn about the process of program development for youth and family audiences. They assist in the planning, execution, and delivery of interdisciplinary programming including Family Days and special teen events. They support the development of resources for family audiences. Since interns interact with minors, candidates are subject to background checks.
Education—School and Teacher Programs
School and Teacher Programs interns learn about contemporary pedagogy as it relates to the museum’s student and teacher audiences. They assist in the planning, execution, and assessment of artist-led gallery tours for first through twelfth-grade students. Interns also assist in the planning, execution, and delivery of teacher professional development programs, including workshops, tours, and salons, and help develop resources for teachers. Interns will assist in the gathering and analysis of student, school, and teacher data as well. Since interns interact with minors, candidates are subject to background checks.
Interns participate in a wide variety of the Development department’s day-to-day activities. Duties can include drafting proposals to corporations, foundations and government-funding sources, writing reports and conducting research on prospective funding sources, organizing direct mailings, and helping to maintain the membership database. Interns also offer support to staff working events and previews. Candidates should have computer and administrative skills, and include a one- to two-page writing sample from an academic paper or funding proposal with their application.
Interns assist designers in developing and producing materials related to the MCA’s graphic needs, including exhibition catalogues, gallery signage, and promotional materials. Candidates should have experience in print production and proﬁciency with the Adobe Creative Suite in a Macintosh environment. Web design knowledge is preferred, but not required. Candidates must be currently enrolled in or have graduated from a graphic design program and include a PDF portfolio with their application.
Working with the Information Systems Department, interns will work on specific projects. For example, interns might maintain the IS Asset Database, which tracks hardware and software; or qualified interns might assist in the development of new databases; install new PCs; and provide basic network support. Candidates should be familiar with Microsoft access database concepts and able to enter data accurately. Working knowledge of Windows XP and Microsoft Office products will be very helpful.
Not available for fall term.
Library interns support the research of the MCA staff, interns, volunteers, and visiting scholars by assisting the librarians on a variety of projects. Current projects include working with artist files and the publications archive. Interns will gain experience in the areas of reference, circulation, cataloging, and collection management. Interns gain a solid understanding of the operations of an art museum library, as well as other MCA departments. Experience in libraries is preferred. The ability to work independently with a strong attention to detail is required. Some heavy lifting is involved.
Interns assist in creating visibility for the museum, exhibitions, and programs, and in attracting new audiences. Duties include conducting research on prospective audience markets and participating in the analysis of demographic, clipping MCA ads, admissions, and other data. Interns work with members of the marketing department and the visitor services department on speciﬁc, smaller projects, including direct mailings, database maintenance, special events, internal marketing, and management of marketing ﬁles. Due to participation in events such as First Fridays and galas, applicants must be at least 21 years of age.
Interns write media releases, assist film crews, and manage photographers to help create and pitch media stories for exhibitions, performances, educational programs, special events, and the MCA Store. Interns interact with visual and performance artists and many different types of press including print, TV, and radio. They also assist with program-related research, handle inquiries and visits from the media, maintain the newsclip system, and manage listings distributions for all public programs. Special projects include working at media previews, exhibition openings, and special events such as First Fridays and galas. Candidates must have strong writing, organizational, and computer skills. Interns work both independently and with many other museum departments in a fast-paced, deadline-oriented environment. Responsibilities and tasks vary daily for new projects. Journalism students are encouraged to apply. Due to participation in events such as First Fridays and galas, applicants must be at least 21 years of age.
Interns assist in the full scope of MCA video projects, from live production to digital delivery, and gain hands-on experience in this exciting area of new media. Tasks include videotaping museum programs and events, assisting in the recording of artist interviews, editing/post-production work, and assisting in maintaining the MCA’s YouTube and Vimeo accounts, as well as internal media platforms in and around the museum. Interns assist in researching and testing of various production equipment, software, and techniques. Special projects include assisting on the implementation of a digital video archive. Film/video/media students are encouraged to apply. Candidates must be proficient with Mac computers and have a basic knowledge of video cameras, production equipment, and Final Cut Pro. Basic experience with After Effects and Adobe Creative Suite software a plus. Applicants should include samples with application.
Interns assist in various aspects of developing and presenting dance, music, theater, and media arts programs. Interns develop and maintain resource ﬁles, compile program notes, assist in productions, and complete clerical and administrative tasks. Candidates must have studied the humanities, art history, or studio arts and have experience with Excel and Word software. Applicants should have experience in performing arts administration and stage work.
Interns organize and label photographic reproductions of works of art in the collection and temporary exhibitions. Interns facilitate rights and reproduction requests writing correspondence, researching artists and copyright holders, and processing and tracking invoices. Interns also work with the MCA photographer to photograph works of art in the collection and temporary exhibitions, process internal work requests, and log photographic material and photography requests. Candidates should have experience with photography and a background in art.
Not available for fall term.
Interns assist with the internal functions of the Preparators Department. Interns may have the opportunity to assist with current exhibitions from the initial organization following through to the completion, organizing past exhibition files, and updating MCA Collection documentation and instruction. Other responsibilities may include data entry, filing, preparing correspondence, and research. Candidates must have good computer and organizational skills. Computer-aided design and AutoCAD experience is preferred.
Interns gain experience in the planning and production of rental events including corporate receptions and dinners, not-for-proﬁt fundraisers, weddings, and other private events. Interns work closely with on-site caterer and various vendors, and their responsibilities include basic administrative tasks, research, maintenance of client ﬁles and databases, mailings, and assisting the Rental Events staff with events. Candidates should have basic computer and word processing skills, as well as excellent customer service skills. Due to participation in events such as First Fridays and galas, applicants must be at least 21 years of age.
Interns assist Store Management with the daily operations of the MCA Store, including merchandising, marketing, and public relations. Candidates should have experience in retail, merchandise display, or visual arts, plus an interest in shopping.
Interns are exposed to many aspects of event planning and production. MCA special events incorporate the efforts of numerous departments, including Development, Membership, Curatorial, and Education, and provide a major part of the MCA’s operating funds. Responsibilities include basic administrative tasks, maintenance of databases, mailings, assisting with special events, and problem solving. Candidates should have computer and word processing skills. Due to participation in events such as First Fridays and galas, applicants must be at least 21 years of age.