NGO and Cultural Internships
at non-profits, think tanks, museums, and theatres
in Russia, Central Asia, and Ukraine
The Russian speaking world has always been one of contradictions. Fabulous wealth in natural resources contrasts with impoverished economies. Human rights concerns contrast with soaring achievements in theater, painting, and literature. A society considered by many to be "backwards" in terms of minority rights and accessibility produces some of the world's most ingenious scientific minds. The Russian speaking world is one of great achievements and always of ever-greater unrealized potential. Many cite these contradictions and the constant stretching for a better tomorrow to in fact be reasons behind its many artistic and scientific achievements.
These are also reasons why Russian NGOs, museums, and theaters can offer students fantastic internship opportunities.
Many NGOs, both global and local, are working to study and improve the lives of a diverse population. Museums house and maintain some of the world's finest collections and theaters boast world-renowned troupes despite the region's history of revolution, censorship, war, and economic volatility. Many museums, NGOs, and theaters will open their doors to foreign interns, allowing students challenging opportunities to practice their Russian and gain a local perspective on the issues at hand, all while researching, writing, translating, fundraising, and/or networking for the institution.
Jump to: scholarship; curriculum; application reqs; internship details; program details.
- Dates and Costs -
Spring: Feb 3 - May 16, 2013 (Apply by Oct 31, 2013)
Fall: Sep 1 - Dec 12, 2013 (Apply by May 15, 2013)
Cost (Vladivostok, Bishkek): $8 295*
Cost (All other locations): $8 995*
Dates: June 2 - Aug 8, 2014 (Apply by March 15, 2014)
Cost (Vladivostok, Bishkek): $6 195*
Cost (All other locations): $6 495*
Name your own dates! (Apply three months in advance)
Minimum two month commitment
Cost (Vladivostok, Bishkek)
First two months: $5 295;*
Each additional week: $495
Cost (All other locations):
First two months: $5 595*
Each additional week: $545
| Frequently asked
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Have a question?
SRAS believes that internships are one of the best ways to solidify your language skills and really get to know your host country. Socially-focused internships such as those at NGOs and theaters, can be especially good for placing you with locals who are usually highly active in thier communities.
SRAS is offering three $750 scholarships to students participating in our NGO and Cultural Internships. Scholarship participants will be expected to contribute weekly blog entries and a 2-3 page end-of-program summation essay describing what they are learning, experiencing, and how they plan to use this knowledge and experience in the future.
To apply, just write one paragraph describing what your ideal internship would be. Submit this paragraph to email@example.com with your other materials (see below) when applying for this program!
- Curriculum -
RS-100/200/300 Russian Language Study
Courses offered at six different levels, from beginning to advanced. For more information see SRAS's suggested syllabi for beginning (100), intermediate (200), and advanced (300).
Academic Hours: Fall, Spring: 180* Summer: 120*
RS-101: Culture Lab
Excursions, seminars, and other out-of-the-classroom experiences at locations of historical, cultural, or other interest. Syllabi now available for: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Bishkek, Vladivostok, Irkutsk, and Kiev.
RS-316: Related Project
Students seeking credit for Report from Russia must complete a 12-15 page paper on a specific social or artistic issue affecting the geographic area in which you have chosen to study. All students, whether seeking credit or not, will be required to maintain a blog while abroad and to post a minimum of a half page discussing social or artistic issues in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, or Ukraine on a weekly basis.
RS 406: NGO or Cultural Internship
Students spend a minimum of 20 real hours per week working for a local NGO, Museum, or Theater. Students may be asked to research, write, translate, or network depending on the student's abilities and/or the needs of the institution.
- Application Requirements -
Requirement may differ depending on the internship sought. See "internship details" below for more details. Strong spoken and written Russian as well as related study and/or experience in the field are not required, but is a plus. Non-Russian speaking students can usually still be placed in internships, but the range of possible tasks they might be offered there will be necessarily more limited. See below for specific details.
In addition to SRAS's regular application procedures, applicants will be expected to: 1) complete both sections of the TORFL1 practice test online, listing J. Wilson as an instructor; 2) submit two writing samples in English. One sample should be of ten or more pages and the other of two to five pages (papers produced for college level classes are appropriate as writing samples); 3) submit an additional copy of their resume and statement of purpose. Students with advanced Russian skills and those hoping to undertake work that will require advanced Russian skills should also submit a copy of their resume in Russian.
These materials (except test results, which will be delivered automatically) must be emailed to: Josh Wilson, Assistant Director, SRAS at firstname.lastname@example.org. The email that includes these items must indicate that you are applying for the "SRAS NGO and Cultural Internships Abroad" and the academic period for which you are applying. Even if these items have been uploaded as part of your SRAS application package, they should be emailed separately to the address given.
- Internship Details -
General requirements: Background in international relations, political science, history, conflict management, etc.
The experience: Interns work at one of a number of think tanks that specialize in Russian, Central Asian, or international issues. Interns gather information from various sources (libraries, internet, journals, etc.) and prepare briefings or reports for staff members. Translation of articles and press releases. In some cases, students may also work on personal research topics.
SRAS has placed internships for the following organizations:*
Carnegie Moscow Center
Human Rights Watch
- Charities, Non-Profits, and NGOs
General requirements: These organizations generally have a need for several skills, ranging from the business side of their operations (accounting, marketing, fund-raising, grant writing) to general people skills and experience in teaching or working with children.
The experience: There are a growing number of NGOs in Russia and Central Asia working with orphanages, street children, refugees, the disabled, and other groups with needs not met by the current social support systems. Interns who are willing to commit to extended periods may take on individual projects.
SRAS has placed internships for the following organizations:*
Doctors of the World (read an interview with a former intern)
General requirements: Background in humanities, art/art history, general history, intermediate level of Russian language, Internet and computer skills.
The experience: Interns are responsible for maintaining and updating web pages, updating and translation of exhibit notes and other marketing or fundraising materials.
SRAS has placed students at the following museums and related organizations:*
The Hermitage Gallery
Museum of Contemporary History
St.Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music
The Tretyakov Gallery
The Peter and Paul Fortress
The State Russian Museum
The Russian Museum of Ethnography
*This list is provided only for information; it does not guarantee placement or availability.
- Program Details -
*Costs: Program costs include tuition for study as outlined, visa and registration, pre-departure materials, local orientation, health and accident insurance, housing as listed below, round-trip airport transfers, SRAS in-country support, and use of a mobile telephone.
- Programs in Russia include dormitory accommodation; home stay is available in all Russian locations at additional cost. Note that currently in St. Petersburg, accommodation is in shared apartments due to shortage of dormitory space.
- Programs in Kyrgyzstan include home stay or dormitory, depending on student request and availability.
- Programs in Ukraine include home stay with half board. Shared apartments may be arranged upon request at additional cost.
*Prerequisites: May vary depending on specific internship. See "Internship Details" above.
*Program Dates/Availability: Note that dates at Moscow State University, for programs in Vladivostok, or for year-long programs in regardless of university or location may differ by several days; Not all sessions may be available in all locations. Please inquire with us to confirm dates.
*Academic Hours: An academic hour is 40 minutes. Totals listed are minimum hours for full-semester or summer-session courses. Customized courses will vary. Some locations may offer additional seminars in language or other subjects. Some locations may offer additional intensive individual lessons - in this case the overall number of hours may be shortened as individual lessons are far more intensive than group lessons. Customized courses are available for advanced students and heritage speakers with specific interests. See our FAQ page and/or contact SRAS for more information.
*Credit Transfer and Transcripts: While a 15-week semester of RSL is designed to be the equivalent of 15-18 credits (summer is 8-9 credits), how many credits your home university may award depends entirely on your home university. SRAS recommends discussing this with your advisor and SRAS before you apply. Students planning on applying for credit transfer must read our FAQ page for more info. Transcripts may be requested (click for details) and are issued by the host university.
... and so I was plummeted into translations for museum publications (mostly dictionary based because my Russian skills were far from translation-worthy) that ended up teaching me much more about the language than many of the courses that I attended. I was exposed to the specific museum vocabulary that is relevant to my area of study: Art History. And using my Russian in a working environment was incomparably satisfactory; it gave relevance to many hours of abstract language studying.
Alice, Interned at the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
My internship was a great experience. The people I worked with tried to make sure that I got to do what I wanted to, so that I could get what I wanted out of the internship."
– Amy, Interned at the Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg (read a full interview with Amy)
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