Apply to Lead

Smithsonian Student Travel  |  Apply to Lead

Leadership Opportunities

Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with Putney Student Travel, seeks extraordinary candidates to work as program leaders for all Smithsonian Student Travel programs. If you are interested in these opportunities, please familiarize yourself with the different program types on this website and review the requirements and details below.

Putney Student Travel manages the interview process and hires all leaders for Smithsonian Student Travel positions. Preference is given to applicants who are available to lead multiple programs a summer. Putney Student Travel begins reviewing applications in December, and holds interviews through April, or until all positions are filled. 

Eligibility and Requirements

To join our team of leaders, you must be able to motivate and engage students in a wide range of situations and settings. Ideal candidates will have significant experience working with high school students; a passion for travel, exploration, and the program theme; and the ability to assess risk and make smart decisions regarding the health, safety, and overall well-being of the group.

Specific Leadership Requirements: 

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher or considerable professional work experience in a field related to the program theme.
  • Working proficiency in the language(s) spoken in the program destination.
  • Significant experience living or traveling in the program destination(s).
  • Significant experience working with high school students.
  • Certified in Basic First Aid and CPR (at your own expense) before the start of the program.
  • Availability to attend mandatory leader training.

In addition to the above requirements, applicants should demonstrate applicable skills in the following areas, consistent with the category and theme of program(s) for which you wish to be considered:

  • Considerable academic and/or work experience with the program topic, theme, or seminar, and enthusiasm for creating your own hands-on curriculum.
  • Some programs require a valid driver’s license and/or the ability to drive stick-shift vehicles.

Background checks

All applicants offered a position are required to complete a background check. For programs where you will be responsible for driving students, this includes a driving report. All leaders must submit a background check every year.

Leader Training

All leaders are required to attend an intensive training in late May or early June. During training, leaders participate in active and engaging discussions, seminars, activities, and workshops. More specific dates will be outlined for training in the spring.


Leaders receive a stipend, the rate of which is calculated to reflect level of education or relevant work experience, length of program, in-country experience, teaching and professional experience, language ability, and level of First Aid/CPR certification. On top of the stipend, all reasonable travel expenses, including room and board during the leader training and through the duration of the contract are covered. Health insurance is not provided. Stipends are competitive within the student travel industry.

Learn More

Visit the Putney Student Travel website to learn more about leadership opportunities and our collaboration. When you are ready to apply, click the Apply to Lead link below.


Application Details

For any questions you can reach the Hiring Directors at