Professional Internship Program for Art

Mission, Vision, and Values Statement

The Professional Internship Program is a formal experiential learning arrangement that is administered by the Career Center. Students are expected to adhere to all requirements to participate in the program.

The Professional Internship Program is no longer accepting applications for the Spring 2018 semester. The Professional Internship Program typically runs during the academic year (Sept.-May). Depending on interest and availability of funds, the Program may also run during Summer 2018. Please contact us if you are interested.

Please review eligibility requirements carefully.


Domestic students in good academic standing in the School of Art are eligible to apply for the Program. International students are not eligible for the Program. Students who are on a leave of absence may not take part in the Program. Students must be enrolled full time at The Cooper Union for the entire semester in which they are proposing to intern. Students who are on short breaks in the conventional academic schedule due to a study abroad or foreign exchange program or for other reasons are not eligible for the Program during that period. Students on probation are ineligible for the Program. Sophomores (second semester), juniors and seniors in the School of Art are eligible. Seniors will take priority.


The Professional Internship Program is focused on career exploration, providing a stipend for unpaid internships.

Internships must take place in the New York area at a professional workplace and/or studio.

Art students can intern in any field that interests them, including non-art-related areas. Nevertheless, the program only supports unpaid internships.

The Professional Internship Program limits each internship site to one participating student per semester. Cooper students are encouraged to seek unique and diverse internships that support their individual learning goals and enlarge their professional networks.

The program operates during the academic year, which is fall through spring. The Program does not run during the summer.

Through the Program, interns are only paid for work at one internship site per semester. The internship experience must last at least one full semester or its equivalent. The Program does not support short-term internships. Some exceptions may be made for seniors in their final semester. Interns may continue to work for more than one semester; however, they must meet with their internship site supervisor to reevaluate the responsibilities and learning objectives.

Applying to the Program

Complete an application form and submit it to the Career Center.

Request two letters of recommendation from faculty members and ensure that they are received by the Career Center.

Complete the Letter of Understanding.

Place a W-4 Tax Form on file in the Business Office at 30 Cooper Square, 7th Floor. If you already have one on file, you don't need to do it again.

Complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Form, including presenting the required identification, with Human Resources staff in the Business Office at 30 Cooper Square, 7th Floor. If you already have one on file, you do not need to complete it again.

Once you have you secured an internship, complete the Internship Site Information & Checklist.

Time Sheets, which you use to track your hours worked at the internship site, are available online for your convenience. For more information about the stipend process, see the section titled "Getting Paid."

If a student has already participated in the program, there is no need to complete all of the forms again. The intern simply needs to update their contact information on the Internship Application Form and complete the Internship Site Information & Checklist form.

Internship sites are varied and the positions are tailored to the needs and interests of each participant. Students seek internships through Cooper Career Connection (C3), which lists internships specifically for Cooper students, and with assistance from the Career Center.

Students may also find an internship site on their own by exploring New York's rich art-and-design community. For instance, if a student is interested in interning with a particular artist, organization, or firm, he or she is encouraged to seek them out independently. Often artists can be contacted through representing galleries. In addition, many institutions and companies have internship information available on their Web sites.

The Program also asks that students not intern with someone to whom they already have access or who already acts in a mentoring/teaching position to them, such as Cooper faculty or staff members.

Institutions sponsoring interns have included artists' studios, museums, so-called alternative spaces, design firms, publications, photographers, Web design firms, foundries, film and video production companies, corporate art collections, radio stations, hospitals, public art programs and colleges.

ABC No Rio
American Museum of Natural History
Anthology Film Archives
The Architect's Newspaper
Art Science Research Laboratory
Artists Space
Asia Society
Buckminster Fuller Institute
Center for Book Arts
Creative Time
Democracy Now!
Drawing Center
Electronic Arts Intermix
Exit Art
Eye Beam
Japan Society
The Kitchen
Korean Cultural Service
Lower Eastside Printshop
Momenta Art
Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art
National Coalition Against Censorship
The New Yorker
Percent for Art Program
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center
Sculpture Center
Storefront for Art and Architecture
Studio Museum in Harlem
Whitney Museum of American Art

Applying and Interviewing

The Program encourages students to develop a résumé and a cover letter and to apply to several internships. It is also recommended that students interview with as many organizations/individuals as possible (three interviews are recommended). This approach not only provides valuable interviewing experience but also gives students a chance to compare opportunities to see which internship offers the most appropriate learning experience, supervision, and work environment.

The Program also asks that students not intern with someone to whom they already have access or who already acts in a mentoring/teaching position to them, such as Cooper faculty or staff members.

In the interview process, it is important for students to clearly establish what their responsibilities would be in the internship and the scope of the position. The interviewing section of our website offers valuable preparation information.

Choosing and Accepting an Offer

The Professional Internship Program is designed to help facilitate students in making new professional connections. Therefore, again, the Program recommends students to go on several interviews.

Remember that it is important for students to clearly establish what their responsibilities are in advance of the internship; this can be part of the interview process. It will help students make an informed decision about which internship to accept.

Before accepting an internship students must discuss the responsibilities of the internship and how they relate to their career objectives with the director of the Professional Internship Program and obtain formal approval.

Once a student has accepted a position, he or she must complete the form entitled "Internship Site Information Sheet & Checklist" and deliver it to the Career Center. It is also important for the student to notify, as soon as possible, any individual/organization where he or she is declining an intern position.

Basic Professionalism

Remember that internships often lead to paid positions, and other opportunities. In addition, internship site supervisors will be a professional reference for future positions. However casual they sometimes appear, the internship site supervisor is assessing interns' ability to learn and problem-solve, level of interest, commitment, dependability, punctuality and skills.

A common criticism from internship site supervisors is that interns do not arrive at the agreed upon time. This issue often seems insignificant to busy students; however, it is extremely important to employers. While they should be sensitive to your academic responsibilities, supervisors can be inconvenienced and frustrated by last-minute changes in schedules or cancellations.

If an intern cannot make it to work or is sick, be sure to let the internship site supervisor know as soon as possible. Be direct and use the telephone. Employers have reported disliking finding an e-mail message in their mailbox in the morning that says the intern can't make it to work that day. Remember that they depend upon interns.

Finally, it is important for participating students to understand that as an intern they have professional responsibilities and represent The Cooper Union.

When Good Internships Go Bad

Always address and clarify any misunderstandings as soon as they occur. Interns who are having a conflict at the internship site must promptly contact the director of the Professional Internship Program to discuss the specific situation. Interns will be advised about the next steps that they will need to take in approaching the circumstance. Common situations include not being giving meaningful work, being pressured to work more than originally agreed upon, unusual demands, and not getting the kind of experience that was offered when hired.

If you decide that you wish to leave your internship, you must:

  • Discuss the circumstance with the Internship Director before you resign.
  • If you decide to resign, give two weeks notice to your employer, unless there are unusual circumstances.


The internship must be unpaid in order to receive the stipend.

The stipend is designated for work at a single internship site. If a student is simultaneously interning at an additional unpaid internship site, he or she will not be paid through the program for the hours at the second internship site.

Participating interns will be paid by The Cooper Union at an hourly rate of $13.00 for a maximum of $2,200.00 per academic year.

The stipend translates into 170 hours of work. Students should plan their schedules accordingly.

Interns will not be paid for any hours over the $2,200.00 limit.

All time sheets for the year must be submitted by the last day of classes of the spring semester or they will not be processed.

See the "Getting Paid" section below for more information.

Getting Paid

All of the required paperwork must be completed and submitted before interns can accrue any hours toward their internship stipend; interns are not paid retroactively for time worked before the paperwork is completed and received. (See the Form section for the comprehensive list of required paperwork.)

Interns are encouraged to keep copies of all the forms they submit, including each time sheet.

Interns are responsible for keeping track of work hours, turning in time sheets, getting their internship site supervisors to review and sign their completed time sheets, and picking up their own paychecks.

Time sheets are submitted to the Career Center.

Paychecks are picked up in the Business Office.

The stipend payments will be made according to the Business Office's payroll schedule. Interns may follow the bi-weekly schedule or turn in the time sheets on their own schedule; however, payment will be made strictly according to the payroll schedule.

All time sheets for the year must be submitted by the last day of classes (not the last day of finals) of the spring semester or the payroll deadline of the first week of May (which ever comes first) or they will not be processed and the stipend will be forfeited.

Students graduating in the fall must submit their time sheet by the last day of classes (not the last day of finals) of the fall semester or the payroll deadline of the first week of December (which ever comes first) or they will not be processed and the stipend will be forfeited.

To be paid, in addition to all of the other paperwork, interns need to complete a W-4 tax form and submit it to the Business Office. The form is available in the Business Office or online. If interns do not complete it, the Business Office will not produce a check for the intern's work hours. (Please note that the Business Office will not notify you if you have not completed it.) It is the intern's responsibility to make sure that the W-4 tax form is completed and received. Please note that the W-4 form only needs to be completed and submitted once. Students who have previously been paid by the Business Office, presumably already have one on file.

On the time sheet due date, please submit it to the Career Center (not the Business Office) no later than 12:00 noon. Time is needed for transferring the information onto payroll vouchers for the Business Office.

The Business Office accepts original time sheets that are signed by the internship site supervisor. They will not accept photocopies of the signed form. However, they will accept facsimiles or scanned images of the time sheets.

If an intern submitted his or her time sheet on the due date and the Business Office has not prepared a check, the intern should make sure that his or her W-4 form is on file (even if it were submitted) and that the Business Office has the timesheet. If one cannot resolve this in the Business Office, please contact the Center for Career Development (212-353-4377), 29 3rd Avenue, 4th Floor, to get a copy of the timesheet that was submitted and to remedy the situation.

If interns do not complete their student internship evaluation form, their last paycheck will be withheld until it is completed. This information is critical for the assessment of the program.

End-of-Semester Internship Forum

At the end of each semester, there will be a mandatory internship evaluation forum of all interns to discuss, share, and assess the internship experience. The forum allows for a cross dissemination of ideas and experiences, so that students learn from each other's experience. When appropriate, we also ask interns to show examples of work that was completed during their internship. Students who are considering doing an internship are encouraged to attend these open forums to learn from their peers.

End-of-Semester Written Evaluation

At the end of your internship, you must complete a student internship evaluation form; this offers interns the opportunity to evaluate the internship site, learning experience and supervision. It will be sent to interns via email. If interns do not complete the student internship evaluation form, their last paycheck will be withheld until it is completed. Students can also choose to make their evaluation available to other students through the Career Center to give students an idea of their specific internship experience.

Internship site supervisors will also evaluate the interns' performance in the internship.

Compliance with Requirements

Failure to comply with the requirements of the Profession Internship Program may result in your termination from it.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.