London Internship Program at Sotheby’s

Overview

Sotheby’s, the oldest and largest internationally recognized firm of fine art auctioneers in the world, has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. We will be offering exceptional undergraduate-level and graduate-level students the opportunity to participate in a unique 8-week paid Internship Program this Fall.

The objective of the Sotheby’s Internship Program is to provide practical training experience to students interested in pursuing a career in the art and auction world. Internships are available across various areas of the business. Interns will be assigned a department based on their academic interests and professional goals, and will work under the supervision of a designated staff member. Over the course of the fall semester, our interns will have the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of a renowned auction house, see great rarities and works of art, and discover potential industry careers. Interns will also be invited to attend video seminars led by senior staff each week; and will be assigned a group project to complete and present during the final week of the internship.

Please check back here for updated program information, including application deadlines and start dates.

Candidate Profile

  • A strong academic record
  • Leadership and teamwork experience
  • Curiosity and passion for learning
  • Positive attitude and self-motivation

Eligibility Requirements

  • Candidates must be rising juniors or rising seniors of an undergraduate university/college; or be enrolled in a graduate-level program as of the Fall 2020 semester
  • Must be able to commit to the entirety of the 8-week program and to a minimum of 20 hours per week
  • Must be authorized to work in the United States without visa sponsorship
  • Must submit a completed application (incomplete applications will not be considered)

Departments

Please use the list below to rank up to 3 departments (in order of preference) for your fall internship placement. Sotheby’s will strive to match each candidate with an appropriate department based on his or her interests and background. We cannot guarantee you will be placed in a department of your choosing and not all departments offer internships every program cycle.

Business Development

  • Art Advisory
  • Client Development
  • Corporate Art Services
  • Fiduciary Client Group
  • Global Business Development
  • Museum Services
  • Private Sales
  • Proposals
  • Regional Markets

Marketing and Digital Services

  • Creative Services
  • Digital Marketing
  • Ecommerce
  • Special Events
  • Thread Genius

Specialist Areas

  • 19th Century Paintings
  • 20th Century Design
  • African & Oceanic Art
  • American Art
  • Americana
  • Chinese Works of Art
  • Contemporary Art
  • European Works of Art
  • French & Continental Furniture
  • Impressionist & Modern Art
  • Indian & South East Asian Art
  • Jewelry & Watches
  • Latin American Art
  • Old Master’s Paintings
  • Photographs
  • Prints
  • Private Sales
  • Sotheby’s Wine

Insights

Are you looking to apply for an internship at Sotheby’s and have you ever wondered what it is like working in a specialist department? Now you can gain a glimpse into the inner workings of our auction house through our regular internship blog. If your passion for Sotheby’s is sparked further by this article please submit your application for our next internship intake through our careers site.

We’ve asked two interns in Contemporary Art to provide top tips for future interns and their internship highlights.

1. What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt during your internship?

Ben: The internship provides you with a lot of insights, the importance of strong team coordination, especially among the interns and the passion that drives this world leading art business. For me the most valuable takeaway was how from day one your knowledge about a variety of artists quickly expands. Wherever you begin your career, there are very few places in the art world where you can build knowledge so quickly about a comparably rich set of artist’s.

Haleigh: During this internship I’ve learned a great deal about many different contemporary artists through assisting specialists with research. This knowledge is invaluable and will stay with me throughout the rest of my career. I have also learned about—and participated in—many of the different components that contribute to the preparation for an auction, from writing catalogue notes, researching using artist catalogue raisonnés, to helping set up the galleries for exhibitions. Having just finished my master’s degree, this internship has complimented my academic knowledge of art history and has offered an incredibly valuable and unique perspective of the commercial art industry.

2. What is a typical day for an intern in Contemporary?

Ben: That depends very much on the time of the year and the preferences you discussed during your interview. If you like writing and join during a time that leads to the sales, you will be gathering lots of information about prominent artists of our time and get the chance to prove yourself at note writing. Whether you prefer to be more on the content side or on the operations and business aspects of the department, the supervisors will make sure that you get a great deal of exposure to what is going on in the department.

Haleigh: A typical day as an intern in the Contemporary department usually begins with research using the department’s extensive book library, as well as online resources such as Artnet. On certain days we are asked to do external research at libraries such as the National Art Library at the V&A, or the library at Tate Modern. Other tasks include taking installation photographs in the galleries for each work in a given sale, as well as organisation of the department’s library inventory and sending catalogues out for delivery.

3. Do you have any advice for future interns?

Ben: Don’t be shy to ask questions. Prior to joining have a close look at past auction catalogues of the respective department you will be working in to have a head start.

Haleigh: Stay organised and on top of tasks as best you can, as work in the library can get very busy particularly around sale time. Writing lists and prioritising tasks is incredibly beneficial. It is also great to show an enthusiastic attitude and a keen interest in the tasks at hand; this will not only contribute to a positive working environment amongst the interns, but also foster a greater depth of knowledge during your internship.

4. What has been your most memorable moment during your internship?

Ben: When the final catalogue arrived and I found that the specialists had allowed for notes I had written to make it through to the print version. That was a moment where I felt hard work had been truly appreciated and I had been given a real opportunity to be a productive part of the lead up to the sales here.

Haleigh: My most memorable moment has been helping a specialist to catalogue a painting in an upcoming sale by checking the condition of the work. This first-hand, direct experience with the art was very special and it is extraordinary to see these artworks in person once you have dedicated so much time to researching and writing about them.

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