Intellectual Entrepreneurship: Becoming an IE Pre-Grad Mentor

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Build Your Career as an IE Mentor

The IE Pre-Grad Internship is a wonderful professional development opportunity; it allows graduate students to experience teaching and mentoring in a different way than typically gained through being a teaching assistant or assistant instructor. Since graduate student mentors for the IE Pre-Grad Internship work one-to-one with undergraduates, the experience is similar to the kind of relationship that faculty members and graduate students develop. In other words, serving as a mentor will prepare you for the role of a professor working with would-be graduate students. Many prior mentors include this experience on their CV---to document the unique opportunity they had to work with students. Some mentors also are able to collaborate with their interns on research projects that lead to conference presentation and publications.

Finding an Undergraduate

Obviously, if you have served as a TA or AI or GRA, you may already have in mind some bright undergraduates.  If not, it is suggested that you talk to the undergraduate advisor in your program (or in related disciplines); most undergraduate advisors are familiar with this internship and regularly send notes to all undergrads in their program abut this initiative.  As a result, many undergraduates (because they do not know any graduate students) will go to their undergraduate advisor to look for a mentor. If the undergraduate advisor has your name, that will facilitate the process.

You might also let your graduate coordinator know-since undergrads may come to them seeking names of possible graduate student mentors. Undergraduates are encouraged to contact the graduate coordinator for the program in which they are interested. So, you would be well-served to let your graduate coordinator know of your interest in being a mentor.

Finally, talk to your faculty who may have bright undergrads in their classes.

The bottom line is that undergraduates will be flattered if you come to them and offer your services. This is a real honor.

That your grad program does not have an undergrad program should not deter you. Again, it is suggested that you speak to an undergraduate advisor in related undergrad programs, such as departments (disciplines) from which your graduate program recruits students.

Please refer any undergraduates who express interest to the Interns section of this site for information on the structure of the internship and instructions on enrollment. It will be the undergraduate student's responsibility to coordinate their own enrollment in the course by completing and electronically submitting an Internship Contract.

* If you wish to find an intern interested in Law School, send an email to and request to be matched with a UT undergraduate.

Mentor Responsibilities

The foundation of the mentor/intern relationship is the support system that the mentor puts in place for the intern. This system is determined at the very beginning of the relationship when the mentor and intern meet to discuss the goals and "curriculum" or plan for the internship semester.

While some interns might approach the internship experience with a firm understanding of what they'd like to achieve throughout the semester, others might have a less structured idea, hoping that their time in the internship will provide them with academic and professional focus. Regardless of the level of focus with which the intern approaches the internship, it is the mentor's responsibility to actively listen to the intern's interests, inquiries and goals and outline a curriculum that addresses these items.

The aforementioned curriculum should be agreed upon by both parties and is intended to be both organic and fluid. If at some point, one or both parties feel that the original plan isn't working as anticipated, initiative to modify is encouraged, as taking action leads to Intellectual Entrepreneurship.

The amount of time that the mentor spends with the intern will greatly depend on whether the intern decides to register for internship credit in the form of one, two or three credit hours. e.g. Workload and expectations for an intern registered for three credit hours will be heavier than that of an intern registered for one credit hour.

Mentors take the amount of internship credit hours for which the intern registers as well as the intern's goals into consideration when creating the "curriculum" or plan for the mentor/intern relationship throughout the internship semester.

Graduate students serving as mentors through the IE Pre-Graduate School Internship should know that doing so does not require the same amount of time needed to teach a class, nor does it have to be as structured. The internship experience can take on many forms – from working with the intern in the field or lab on a research project to meeting with an intern once a week to discuss the graduate school application process, workload, expectations, etc.

Organic and entrepreneurial relationships are at the core of the IE Pre-Graduate School Internship. A such, the internship experience should be what the intern and mentor want it to be – with a "curriculum" or plan for the semester created by both parties.

Grading the Undergraduate Interns

75% of the intern's grade comes from their graduate mentor as the bulk of the time that the intern spends undertaking the internship is with the mentor or in independently carrying out exercises set forth in the "curriculum" or plan created with the mentor.

The curriculum created between both parties thus plays a crucial role in determining the final grade recommended by the graduate student to Professor Cherwitz. Said curriculum should clearly state goals for the semester, exercises intended to help meet these goals and a timeline that keeps the intern accountable for meeting these items.

Mentor grade recommendations are due at the end of the internship semester; Professor Cherwitz will send out an email requesting that these grades be submitted to him with ample warning before the due date.

If at any time a mentor feels that they have a question or concern regarding the performance of an intern throughout the semester, she or he can email Dr. Darwin to address this issue.

The remaining 25% of the intern's grade stems from their completion of internship requirements (internship meeting attendance – 4 mandatory meetings and assignment completion on Blackboard – 4 mandatory assignments; one per meeting).


Any graduate student currently enrolled at UT-Austin is eligible to serve as a mentor. Your job is to find an undergraduate who wishes to do the internship.

Travel Grants for Mentors

Depending on your discipline (and the UT College/School in which it resides), there may be IE Travel Grants. Travel grants depend on funding being available. Travel grant applications for IE Pre-Grad interns and their graduate student mentors will be available after the 12th class day. The purpose of these grants is to enable interns to attend an academic/professional meeting or conference with their mentors.

The course syllabus explains the undergraduate internship requirements in detail.

Mentors offer advice on how to mentor

Read what prior mentors say

Study documents positive impact on IE mentors