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Hands-On Experiences to Inspire Your Future

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Adventure Travel & Cultural Immersion

Community Engagement & Global Awareness

Active Immersion in Language & Culture

Extraordinary Leadership

Apply to Lead

Since 1951, much of Putney Student Travel’s success in creating and running summer programs stems from hiring incredibly engaging, enthusiastic, creative, responsible, adaptable, and dedicated leaders and instructors. Our leaders enjoy working with teenagers in dynamic environments and foster meaningful experiences for their students that extend well beyond the length of the program.

At Putney Student Travel, we strive to hire and retain employees who represent the vast diversity of the countries, communities, cultures, and students we work with across the globe. As a result, we are not only committed to, but passionate about employing leaders from all backgrounds. We encourage applicants from historically marginalized groups and are actively engaged in creating an inclusive work environment for leaders of all identities.

Join Our Summer Leadership Team

Successful candidates must be able to motivate and engage students in a wide range of situations and settings. Leadership on all programs requires extensive interaction with, and mentoring of, students ranging from 6th through 12th grade. As a result of hiring people who already have what it takes to facilitate safe, engaging, and meaningful programs, we are able to grant our leaders a high degree of independence and responsibility. Excellent personal leadership skills, the ability to problem-solve, and comfort handling multiple ongoing tasks are crucial. Successful candidates have the ability to inspire, empathize, educate, establish boundaries, enforce rules, and collaborate as a team with their co-leader(s). Working as a co-leadership team is paramount to the success of any program, and the size of each team varies. Groups of 18 students or fewer are led by a two-person leadership team, and groups with 19 or more students may have a leadership trio. Our campus-based programs are led by larger teams of instructors with an on-site Program Director.

Putney has a clear code of conduct (outlined below) that our students agree to in order to participate. We expect our leaders to model and enforce these rules throughout the program as well.

Our returning leaders agree that some of the most important skills necessary for a successful program are abundant energy, flexibility, passion for travel, and deep desire to engage with youth.

Ideal Candidates
It is unrealistic for all candidates to embody everything on this list, which is why we hire holistic leadership teams. Our most successful candidates meet some combination of the following criteria:

More Information

Career, Exploration, Service, & Language programs

• A bachelor’s degree or higher or considerable professional work experience in a field related to the program theme.

• Working proficiency in the target language of the destination; fluency is required for Language programs. Preferential placement for candidates with experience teaching the target language.

• Significant experience living or traveling in the target country or region.

• Significant experience working with students.

• Certification in Basic CPR/First Aid at your own expense before the start of the program. Many of our leaders hold more advanced certifications such as WFA, WFR, or EMT.

• Ability to drive stick-shift, or ability to learn if necessary (relevant for some service programs, but not all).

• Ability to attend mandatory leader training in Vermont in early June. More details on training will be outlined during the interview process.

• For Service-based programs, enthusiasm for engaging in highly physical projects.

Pre-College programs & Oxford Academia — Instructors & Program Assistants

• A bachelor’s degree or higher or considerable professional work experience in the seminar topic. Applicants for Program Assistant positions must have completed their second year of college.

• Significant experience working with high school students.

• Significant experience teaching or working within the seminar field and enthusiasm for creating their own hands-on, project-based curriculum.

• Program Assistants must be flexible and resourceful, willing to take ownership of tasks as well as be able to follow instructions and work independently without a lot of direct supervision.

• Certification in Basic CPR/First Aid at your own expense before the start of the program.

• Ability to attend mandatory training in the program destination a week prior to the start of the program.

• Applicants for domestic campus-based programs must have a valid driver’s license and be willing and able to drive a 7–15 passenger vans.

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis, but we encourage you to apply early in the cycle (November–March). Qualified candidates will be invited to interview via a video call and/or may be offered an interview in person at our offices in Vermont.

We appreciate your patience during the hiring process as we work to put together holistic leadership teams for each program. We are proud to have a high percentage of returning leaders each year and prioritize placing them first. First-time leaders can expect placement decisions beginning in March until all positions are filled.

A more exact decision-making timeline will be clarified during your interview as circumstances may differ.

Whenever possible, we prefer that candidates lead multiple programs a season. We also prefer that first-year leaders return to the same program should they return for a second summer.

The health and safety of our leaders and students is our top priority. We continue to monitor the changing COVID landscape and have developed robust health policies and safety protocols that are particular to each destination. More specific guidelines will be provided throughout the hiring and onboarding process.

For most programs we highly recommend, but don’t require, that leaders be vaccinated for COVID-19. For a select few programs, including all National Geographic Student Travel programs, leaders are required to be fully vaccinated with the most recent shot available.

All applicants offered a position are required to complete an annual background check, including returning leaders. For programs where you will be responsible for driving students, this includes a driving report.

All leaders are required to attend an intensive training every year. During training, leaders participate in active and engaging discussions, seminars, activities, and workshops that cover topics such as the Putney philosophy, leadership skills, managing group dynamics, and health and safety protocols. Attendance at leader training is mandatory.

Leader training in Vermont will take place from May 29 to June 2, 2024. All reasonable travel to and from Vermont, as well as room and board for the duration of training, will be paid for by Putney.

We require that our students refrain from the following behaviors while  participating on our programs. We expect leaders to adhere to this code of conduct as well and to enforce these rules with their students while on the program to ensure a safe and positive environment for all students, leaders, and local partners. 

  1. Possessing, consuming, or distributing alcohol or drugs.
  2. Displaying a consistently negative attitude toward leaders, fellow students, or the goals of the program; or an unwillingness to participate in program activities or projects.
  3. Riding on mopeds or motorcycles, electric scooters, hitchhiking, or riding in unauthorized vehicles.
  4. Leaving the group without authorization, including leaving residences or hotels after lights-out.
  5. Visiting in rooms of other students unless prior arrangements are made with leaders.
  6. Stealing, or deliberately damaging any buildings, furnishings, or other property.
  7. Engaging in behavior (including speech) that intimidates any person, or that compromises the inclusive atmosphere of the program as determined by Putney Student Travel. This includes the expectation that any physical contact between students will include each person’s spoken and ongoing affirmative consent. 
  8. Body piercing or tattooing during the program.
  9. Consuming tobacco products (including e-cigarettes).
  10. Not abiding by Putney Student Travel’s cell phone policy as outlined in the Program FAQs document in your digital locker.
  11. Engaging in behavior contrary to local government protocols or Putney Student Travel’s health guidelines implemented during the coronavirus pandemic for the safety of the community.
Many programs require that one or more leaders travel to the destination up to one week in advance of the program start for preparation. These pre-trip days are compensated as part of the contract.

In addition to offering competitive stipends that are fair and equitable, we cover all reasonable domestic and international travel to and from training as well as to and from your program destination(s). While under contract, we also cover all other program-related expenses, such as accommodations, activities, and food.

Stipends are calculated based on level of education, years of related experience in teaching or leading similar programs, fluency in relevant languages, skills relevant to the program theme(s) (professional photographers, wildlife biologists, etc), and advanced medical training above basic First Aid and CPR. Leaders that return for multiple summers also receive a pay bump for up to four years.

Each stipend is calculated on an individual basis, taking into consideration the criteria above in addition to the length and type of trip, and the number of trips led in a particular summer. Therefore, it can be difficult to estimate exact pay until all of these factors are accounted for. With that said, first year leaders on a shorter program can expect to receive a base pay starting around $1,000 per trip. For more experienced leaders on longer or more specialized programs the base pay may start closer to $1,500 or $2,000 per trip. More specific ranges can be outlined in the later stages of the hiring process and an exact stipend amount will be detailed in the official job offer. All stipend estimates and specific amounts are given in pre-tax dollars.

Returning leaders receive a pay bump for each year they return to lead up to four years.

Smithsonian Student Travel

Putney’s collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution offers opportunities for high school students to explore the world through the Smithsonian lens. As the world’s largest museum and research complex, students are able to explore destinations and themes in ways only the Smithsonian is able to provide. Leaders of these programs help students gain a better understanding of our shared past, facilitate experiential learning opportunities in the present, and help them develop the tools and resources needed to help shape the future. All of the same ideals and requirements for Putney leaders also apply to leading programs with the Smithsonian. Please visit the Smithsonian Student Travel website before applying below.

National Geographic Student Travel

National Geographic and Putney Student Travel have collaborated to offer an array of unique programs designed to engage students with themes central to the missions and initiatives of the National Geographic Society.  Destinations and itineraries are designed to fuel students’ innate curiosity in the world and create the next generation of explorers. Students go On Assignment, using Photography, Marine Biology, Wildlife Conservation, Anthropology, Robotics, and more help narrow the focus of the experience.  Leaders of these programs teach students skills used by Explorers in the field and guide them as they develop a project of their choosing. All of the same ideals and requirements for Putney leaders also apply to leading programs with National Geographic Student Travel. Please visit National Geographic Student Travel before applying below. 


Before submitting your application below, please carefully browse our website and familiarize yourself with the program categories, destinations, and itineraries for which you are most qualified.

In your application materials, be sure to highlight your language abilities as well as time spent in countries outside of the U.S., specifically the countries where you are interested in leading programs. Please also elaborate on your experiences working with students in a teaching or leadership capacity. For Pre-College and Academia teaching positions, please highlight any experience that would make you an effective instructor of your chosen seminars.

Please apply for the programs for which you are the most qualified. We ask that you only submit one application as every candidate will be considered for all open positions across Putney Student Travel, Oxford Academia, Smithsonian, and National Geographic, as well as our programs with Harvard Chan C-CHANGE and the Columbia Climate School.

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Please contact the Hiring Directors if you have specific questions about employment opportunities or the hiring process.

Hiring Directors:  Mike Oster, Hannah Gilkenson, Sylvie Littledale, & Avery Stern
Baja & the Gulf of California
Chile & Peru
Germany & Sweden

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