Rice Unconventional Wisdom

Center for Civic Engagement Flash banner

Summer Mentorship Experience 


The Summer Mentorship Experience (SME) is a competitive summer internship program for Rice undergraduates who aspire to high-level leadership.

Students who are admitted first attend a training seminar that focuses on leadership in professional contexts. Upon successful completion, the students then spend the summer performing substantive work with recognized leaders in public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Throughout the summer, students are also required to complete readings and written assignments designed to enhance their understanding of the personal and professional demands facing leaders today. Students are expected to add value to the organization and are often tasked to take on substantial projects. 

Each SME participant is paired with a mentor who is responsible for overseeing the student's learning and personal development, and we only partner with organizations at which the student will do substantive work and have some opportunity to observe and interact with recognized leaders. Placements include dynamic and demanding summer work experiences in a variety of industries—many of which are normally unpaid—and are concentrated locally in Houston, San Francisco, New York City and Washington, D.C., and internationally in Paris.


Click here to view a fantastic info video about the SME created by Eric Li (Sid Rich '13). 


All (non-graduating) undergraduate students are eligible to apply for the SME program. Ambitious freshmen are invited to apply, but should be aware that admission preference is given to similarly qualified sophomores and juniors.  

Requirements and Expectations  

All students admitted to the SME program must enroll in LEAD 250, a two-credit class that meets after spring final exams. During these class days, students interact with Leadership Rice staff and get to know other students in the SME program, including a small cohort of students they will communicate with regularly throughout the summer. Students also become familiar with essential leadership skills and keys to success in professional contexts. Over the course of the summer, students complete written assignments that link concepts with work experiences. 

Participants in the SME program must commit to:

  • Working full-time (minimum 40 hours per week) for nine weeks during the summer (beginning of June  - early August)
  • Taking LEAD 250 for a grade and attending the associated class sessions
  • Attending all meetings and events scheduled for SME participants


SME program participants are awarded a stipend to cover living expenses and, when applicable, travel costs. For SME 2012, the stipend for Houston placements was $4,000.  To account for travel expenses and cost of living adjustments, the stipend for placements in Washington, D.C. and New York City was $6,000. Stipends for international placements will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Stipends will be awarded in installments, with each payment contingent on satisfactory completion of all SME requirements to that point.

The Application Process

Applications for the 2014 SME will be made available by mid-November and will be due in January 2014. In early February, the strongest candidates will be invited for an interview. Placements are awarded to students demonstrating a commitment to leadership, the capacity for leadership, and the ability to articulate the ways in which leadership development is integral to future plans.  

During the application process, students indicate the types of placements that are of greatest interest. Leadership Rice is responsible for matching students with organizations and mentors, and cannot guarantee a specific placement at the time of application. After all applications have been reviewed, interviews have been conducted, and the pool of participating organizations has been finalized, Leadership Rice offers to each accepted student a placement with a specific organization.  

Click here for more information on the application process.


Subject to change

Applications Due: January 21, 2014
Interviews: February 2014
Offers Extended: March 2014
LEAD 250: May 8 - 10
Mentorships: June 2 - Aug 1 , 2014

Mentorship Placements

Click here to see a list of the types of organizations that have participated in the SME program in previous years. Leadership Rice regularly recruits new mentors. To nominate an organization, please contact Felicia Martin, Associate Director of Leadership Rice, at felicia.m.martin@rice.edu.