Information for Mentors
Leadership Rice's Summer Mentorship Experience is a competitive
summer internship program for Rice undergraduates who aspire to high-level
leadership. The SME Program is much more than a typical internship.
For nine weeks over the course of the summer, students do substantive work with
recognized leaders in public, private, or non-profit organizations. Students
also complete readings and written assignments that deepen their understanding
of the personal and professional demands leaders face.
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
opportunities to observe and interact with recognized leaders. Placements
include some of the most prestigious and demanding summer work experiences in a
variety of industries, and are concentrated in Houston, New York City, San
Francisco, Washington, D.C., and select international locations.
Almost all of us in reflecting on our life trajectory can
identify someone who has encouraged us, challenged us, and given us
opportunities we would not otherwise have enjoyed. The SME program is a unique
opportunity for current leaders to be that person for one of the next
generation of leaders. Many of the best, brightest, most ambitious students at
Rice University are eager to learn, lead, and make a difference. These students
want and need more than a summer job, and dedicated mentors have the potential
to transform a routine internship into a unique, vibrant mentorship.
The SME program is a win-win-win situation for participating students, mentors,
and organizations. Students get to apply their learning in a challenging but
supportive professional context, mentors derive satisfaction from helping
students realize their potential, and organizations get a bright, motivated,
productive summer employee. Students and mentors often remain in touch long after
the summer ends, and mentors often prove instrumental in helping students
launch and advance their careers. Ultimately, society benefits from a
steady infusion of committed, capable leaders. Below are a few of the many benefits
1. Bright, motivated,
and productive summer employees
SME Fellows are
among the most outstanding students at Rice University and are challenged to
exceed expecations and add value to your organization.
2. Pre-trained interns
Fellows attend a 3-day class (LEAD 250) to prepare for the
mentorship where they learn essential leadership skills and keys to success in
professional contexts. Over the
summer, they will complete assignments that link concepts with work
3. A seamless
recruiting, interviewing and matching process
Leadership Rice is responsible for recruiting,
interviewing, and matching students with organizations based on mutual
interests, skills, and needs.
4. On-going support
from Leadership Rice throughout the summer
We conduct site visits to each of our mentors and students. We
also check-in via phone or email to provide coaching and ensure the student is
5. Access to a
network of more than 30 participating organizations
Each year more than 30 organizations participate in the
SME. As a partner organization,
you will be connected with other companies and institutions worldwide who share
similar values on leadership and mentoring.
6. Personal and
professional satisfaction in developing the next generation of leaders
Past mentors have claimed that they were challenged to reflect
on their own leadership values and capacities through the SME.
What do mentors do?
Mentors equip the students to lead and succeed—during the
summer and beyond. This can take a variety of forms, including allowing the
student to shadow you and observe your leadership approach, explaining how to
navigate office politics, introducing the student to important persons in the
organization or industry, or assessing the student's communication skills.
Effective mentors make a deliberate effort to help their students reach their
full potential. To this end, some mentors establish specific objectives for
their students, while others set aside time to discuss leadership concepts,
career options, or industry-specific keys to success. Every mentoring
experience is different, and the best mentors are sensitive to their student’s
specific interests and goals.
A mentor need not be the student's direct supervisor, but should be familiar
enough with the student's work to provide meaningful feedback and help ensure
that the student is tasked with challenging projects.
leadership roles and are key decision-makers in their organizations.
that the student has substantive and challenging work assignments that
contribute meaningfully to the organization. In years past students have conducted
publishable research, organized conferences, designed business plans, made
recommendations on grant awards, and helped close deals in international
locations, among many substantive projects and assignments.
regularly with the student over the course of the summer, including
periodic meetings to assess progress, performance, and goals.
Mentors should encourage students to reach their full potential and be
willing to provide positive feedback and constructive criticism as
insights on how the mentor makes difficult decisions, handles challenging
situations, and establishes priorities.
opportunities for the student to be included in meetings and other
activities that contribute to their learning.
All students admitted to the SME program participate in
supplementary activities in conjunction with the mentorship. These activities
include a series of on-campus training sessions that take place in early May.
During these sessions, students interact with Leadership Rice staff and get to
know other students in the SME program, including a small cohort of students
they will interact 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.
Matching Students and Organizations
Leadership Rice is
responsible for matching students with organizations based on interests,
skills, and needs. The SME selection process is competitive, and only the most
promising future leaders are admitted to the program. SME participants are
among the most outstanding students at Rice University, and many former
participants have gone on to great accomplishment.
Deadline: January 22
Training: May 2-4
June 3 – August 2
Whenever possible, we will schedule a time during the summer to
visit in person with you and your student. The purpose of the visit is to
ensure that the student is meeting and exceeding expectations, explore ways to
enhance the quality and value of the mentorship, and get to know you and your
“The most special part of my placement was the relationship I
built with my mentor. She was so thoughtful both in the projects she gave me
and in explaining the value of those projects. She placed a great amount of
trust in me.”
2011 SME Fellow
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
“Ambassador Djerejian advised us all to listen, learn, and
figure out what it’s like to walk a mile in another person’s shoes while
working in an international setting. With the encouraging guidance of my mentor
and the support of Leadership Rice, this SME taught me what it means to be a
team player while working with people of different cultures, languages, and
2010 SME Fellow
French Institute of International Relations
“My leadership skills have been nourished by an intelligent
mentor and an ambitious supervisor, coupled with specific direction from the
Leadership Rice SME program. I don’t think I could have imagined a more unique
internship to hone my strengths and improve on weaknesses.”
2009 SME Fellow
American Enterprise Institute
“There is also direct benefit [of the mentorship] to the Agency
because the students bring a fresh perspective to technology that has helped
guide new policy. My intern assisted on a project to bring exhibits
featuring cyber-physical systems to Capitol Hill so Congressional staff could
experience the cutting edge technology that NSF funds. She developed
talking points for our Director and high-level speakers, helped manage over 55
exhibiting researchers, coordinated the security logistics for getting displays
and robots to Capitol Hill, and staffed the event. The event was a huge success.”
Director of Legislative Affairs
National Science Foundation
“I decided to be a mentor because it is important for our future
young leaders to experience a new way of doing business. Alternatively, it was great for our
business to have a young leader on our team who brought energy, ideas, and new
relationships. The work the SME fellow did with us during the program was ‘real
work’ that made a substantial impact on our business.”
Chief Operating Officer
"We had a number of interns at Ashoka. The two from Rice were by far the
most grounded of all. This was likely due to the people that they are
(their own talent) but also the program you provide for them. They were
reflective in a way that really helped them learn from their experience
in a way that others may not have."
Chief of Staff
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
consist of a full range of organizations including non-profits, large
corporations, government agencies, and start-up companies. Click here for a sampling of organizations that have
participated in the SME program in previous years.
If you are interested in serving as a mentor please contact Judy
Le, Director of Leadership Rice, at 713-348-4750 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dustin Peterson, Associate
Director of Leadership Rice, at 713-348-4785 or email@example.com .