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 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.
The MCA does not offer paid internships. There are two available stipends, however, that candidates may apply to: the Jimmy Jones Internship Stipend, offered for the summer term; and the Greg Cameron Internship Stipend, offered during the winter/spring term (please see further details about these stipends below). The MCA participates in some cooperative education programs. Students interested in cooperative education or academic credit should contact their college placement office or counselor for more information.
Please refer to our FAQ page to learn more about our program.
Application Deadlines (three yearly)
|Internship Term||Application Deadline|
|Summer Term (May–Aug):||Feb 15|
|Fall Term (Sep–Dec):||Jul 15|
|Winter/Spring Term (Jan–May):||Nov 15|
The Application Process
Opportunities will be posted when we are accepting applications for a term.
Required Application Materials
Application materials include an application, a cover letter, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. If applicable, include your school’s requirements for credit with your application. Due to our application system’s configuration we ask that you submit your cover letter, your letters of recommendation, writing samples or work samples—if applicable—in one single document (.doc or .docx). Your resume should be uploaded separately. Please note, if you do not have your letters of recommendation at the time of application those may be sent separately by email or mail as long as they arrive by the deadline of February 15, 2014.
Letters of recommendation may be sent via email to email@example.com, or by mail to:
Internship and Volunteer Coordinator
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Special Requirements Per Department
The Curatorial, Editorial, and Fundraising and Membership departments require 1–2 pages writing samples with applications.
The Graphic Design, Digital Media: Video, and Digital Media: Web departments require work samples. Please include work samples within your application. You can also include a link to your portfolio website or other online source. If you are applying for the Digital Media: Video department, please send links to your top three videos, or a five-minute reel.
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.
If you have any difficulty using our online system and you need assistance, you may contact us about your interest in internships: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply, please visit our application page.
Note: When applications are being accepted for internship opportunities, they will be listed at the bottom of the page.
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)
All application materials must be received by January 15, 2015 (one month prior to the regular/standard application deadline).
Greg Cameron Internship—Winter/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.
Accounting 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.
Administration interns gain exposure to the internal functions of the MCA through a variety of projects in the Administration and Human Resources departments. Responsibilities include: assisting with further developing the volunteer and internship programs, planning internship and volunteer events, communicating with other interns, and formalizing and documenting administration procedures and operations. Candidates must be detail oriented, be able to communicate effectively via email, and have experience using Word and Excel.
Collections and Exhibitions 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.
Curatorial 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.
Digital Media (Video) 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 digital museum content production. 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. 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 Adobe Premiere Pro. Basic experience with After Effects and other Adobe Creative Suite software a plus. Applicants should include samples with application.
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.
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. Tasks may include administrative activities such as the preparation of program materials, research, correspondence, scheduling, website maintenance, and photo archives. They will provide logistical support in the execution of evening and weekend events as necessary. Candidates must have excellent organizational, project management, and research skills. Basic computer knowledge and comfort interacting with the public are also required. Knowledge of contemporary art practices is preferred. Due to participation in events where alcohol is served, applicants must be at least 21 years of age.
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 Tuesday Evening Programs and other events. Interns may interact with artists, vendors, and technical staff during the execution of events. Tasks may include such administrative activities as preparation of program materials, research, correspondence, scheduling, website maintenance, and photo archives. They will provide logistical support in the execution of evening and weekend events as necessary. Candidates must have excellent organizational, project management, and research skills. Basic computer knowledge and comfort interacting with the public are also required. Knowledge of contemporary art practices is preferred. Due to participation in events where alcohol is served, applicants 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. Tasks may include such administrative activities as preparation of program materials, research, correspondence, scheduling, website maintenance, and photo archives. They will provide logistical support in the execution of evening and weekend events as necessary. Candidates must have excellent organizational, project management, and research skills. Basic computer knowledge and comfort interacting with the public are also required. Knowledge of contemporary art practices is preferred. Because several of our programs happen over the weekend, Interns are expected to have weekend availability. Due to interaction 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. Tasks may include such administrative activities as preparation of program materials, research, correspondence, scheduling, website maintenance, and photo archives. They will provide logistical support in the execution of evening and weekend events as necessary. Candidates must have excellent organizational, project management, and research skills. Basic computer knowledge and comfort interacting with the public are also required. Knowledge of contemporary art practices is preferred. Because several of our programs happen over the weekend, interns are expected to have weekend availability. Due to interaction with minors, candidates are subject to background checks.
Fundraising and Membership 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.
Graphic Design 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 winter/spring 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.
Marketing Interns assist in creating visibility for the museum, exhibitions, and programs, and in attracting new audiences. Duties include producing eNewsletters, email database management and maintenance, some production for certain social media channels, participation in grassroots marketing efforts, conducting research on prospective audience markets and participating in the analysis of demographic information, maintaining departmental records and history, and working with admissions. Interns work with members of the marketing department and the visitor services department on speciﬁc, smaller projects, including direct mailings, database maintenance, special events, and internal marketing. Due to participation in events where alcohol is served, applicants must be at least 21 years of age.
Media Relations 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 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 where alcohol is served, applicants must be at least 21 years of age.
Performance Programs 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.
Photo Archives 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.
Preparator 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.
Rental Events 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 where alcohol is served, applicants must be at least 21 years of age.
Not available for winter/spring term.
Retail 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.
Not available for the winter/spring term.
Special Events 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 where alcohol is served, applicants must be at least 21 years of age.
Not available for winter/spring term.
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Note: When applications are being accepted for internship opportunities, they will be listed at the bottom of the page.