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MOMA internship


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Hello all,

I know this isn't exactly about 2011 apps but I really need some honest opinions at the moment.

Have any of you had a chance to intern at the MOMA by any chance?

I am currently out of the country and I will have to move to NYC solely for this internship for its duration, which is 14 weeks.

I already have an internship experience with another really famous institution and although the internship wasn't exactly a curatorial work,

it assisted me with my research project, which developed into my MA thesis. With this internship experience already on my resume,

I wonder if it's worth going into another one given the high cost of living in NYC?

I know it's going to be a wonderful experience and some of you might ask me why did you even apply in the first place, but all I can say

here is that I've somehow started to feel very nervous about spending so much money on it. As for my career, I think I am interested in teaching

but I am open to museum work, which is why I applied in order to find out. But then again, since I am starting my PhD in art history next fall (2011)

I keep thinking I would have another chance if I really wanted to.

I am so torn! I wonder if I am blowing away a great chance. I am trying to think hard about pros and cons here.

Any honest opinion or advice? Thanks in advance.

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Personally, I would very seriously consider taking it. You will have to move soon anyway to start your PhD program. But, possibly more importabt is the networking potential of the internship. It will give you an idea if you do want to go into museum work but it will also give to the opportunity to make connections. NYC is expensive, but it is also only for 14 weeks.

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Paid or unpaid? I would not move anywhere for an unpaid internship, even MOMA. A paid internship on the other hand, looks great on your CV, particularly if you work on an exhibition and can also add that line to your bona fides. Places like MOMA have a billion interns from all over the place, from PhD candidates at the Institute to freshwomen at Barnard, and it's doubtful you will have significant face time with curators, as an unpaid intern, to make it worthwhile. Also, MOMA curators often don't have PhDs, (the exception in the museum world these days) and would not be your best option for recommendation letters down the line. Don't let the bright lights of New York blind you to the reality of paying someone for the honor of doing their grunt work, just as you should not be a sheep herded into applying to the same 7 schools as everyone else by the fear of never getting a job.

Edited by anonymousbequest
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Hmm. This depends pretty heavily on your financial situation. I'd say, if you have the money and you really want to give it a shot, you should go for it. But if you don't, I would just stick with the internship you have.

I did the whole summer internship in NYC thing (not MOMA though!) and it was sort of a nightmare. I'm from a really urban area so "big city life" wasn't foreign to me, but NYC was a pain. I paid out the nose for a crappy NYU dorm, and had the worst luck getting a paying summer job to supplement my unpaid internship. I think you would have the opportunity to network with some important people, but it might be more trouble than it's worth. Don't get me wrong, NYC is great, but you have to have everything figured out well ahead of time and it's hard to enjoy yourself there when you're broke.

It's nice to say you worked in a city like new york and at a museum like MOMA but the quality of the actual internship might not be as great as the one you have. Like someone said above, a LOT of people intern there and sometimes you do end up just filing or making copies...

Maybe it would be better to beef up your resume and connections with the internship you have and wait to do the NYC thing when you get a fellowship that pays something or gives you the opportunity to do some great research. Maybe you can call the person that offered you the internship and ask them EXACTLY what it entails and whether or not you'll get to do some good work.

If you do end up going, and the internship is unpaid and you want to try to get a part-time job... I recommend telling retail/restaurant/cafe employers that you'll be around indefinitely. They'll be more likely to hire you... ;)

Good luck!

Edited by snoozetina
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I would only consider it if A. you have the money, and B. the internship is in the Curatorial department (and you will be able to work on something that is at least vaguely connected with your field).

Are you already accepted into a PhD program? Is that program in NYC?

I've done 2 internships at major NYC museums, and in my experience, they are hardly worth it if you aren't going to stay in the area and IMMEDIATELY build on the connections you make. These institutions go through a ton of interns (MoMA especially--friend of a friend felt very lost in their giant, corporate atmosphere), and it is difficult to stand out. It is certainly a line on your CV/resume that won't hurt, and one never knows how various connections will pan out; however, unless you are going to get your name attached to an exhibition or be involved in some serious research, I doubt it will add significantly to your academic credentials at this level. Does your program support or frown upon students pursuing non-academic careers? If you are interested in keeping your options open for a non-academic job after you complete your degree, do you already have some good job experience on your resume?

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