My first co-op experience in the US

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student 

I had taken a break from my professional life to move to the US for grad school back in 2016. Back then, it had been a big change for me to get back to books, assignments, tests, and grades. Well, the summer of 2018 was quite a momentous one for me because I was given a chance to go back to working, albeit temporarily. As an international student, I had known that getting work experience in the US would be an invaluable step in my career.

HomeAway at The Domain, Austin, TX

So I was thrilled when I got a chance this year to go on a summer co-op at HomeAway, a vacation rental marketplace company based out of Austin, TX. My focus area during my Computer Science grad program has been Distributed Systems and I could not believe my luck when I got an opportunity to intern as part of HomeAway’s cloud engineering team. I was super excited to be moving to a new city, and equally nervous to be going back to working in a professional environment.

Just another cool spot in the office

After the initial excitement of getting the offer sunk in, I started to look at housing options. I knew I had to work with certain restrictions, i.e. easy commute, short-term lease. HomeAway’s recruitment team helped me get in touch with other incoming interns which was really helpful and made my housing search simple.

After a fast-paced yet informative two-week training program in which I was given overviews of the company vision, the various technologies that were used, and some hands-on on the same, I joined the Digital Infrastructure team in the Cloud Engineering department. The team was friendly and I found my colleagues to be approachable and helpful. I learned a lot and got to experience first-hand how stuff that I have studied about in grad school actually gets implemented in real-world scenarios.

Midway through the summer, HomeAway had organized a hackathon called InternHackATX, through which they intended to get interns from all over (internal and external to HomeAway) to come together for a weekend of bouncing ideas off of each other to solve a problem related to group travel. Three fellow interns and I ended up finishing 2nd overall for proposing a solution to intelligently bring structure to a group conversation between friends planning a vacation. It was an amazing experience and something that I had never done before!

First runners-up at InternHackATX 2018 (after about 3 hours’ sleep in 48 hours)

Before I knew it, it was time to wrap up my intern project, present it to a company-wide audience, and head back to Rochester. It was a bittersweet moment when I was leaving since I really liked living in Austin and partly because I had to get back to books. Anyway, it was a wonderful experience and I am glad I had the chance to learn and become more responsible.

Does having a Master’s Degree from RIT helps you get a full time job?

Founded in 1829, the Rochester Institute of Technology has the fourth-oldest and one of the largest cooperative education programs in the world, annually placing more than 4,400 students in nearly 6,300 co-op assignments with nearly 2,300 employers across the United States and overseas.

But, you might be thinking: What is a co-op? Cooperative education (co-op) is the most extensive and intensive of RIT’s experiential education opportunities. Co-op is full-time, paid work experience directly related to your course of study and career interests.

Ok, so now you might be thinking: how does having a co-op experience helps me find a full time job? One thing students won’t have when they graduate from RIT is a padded resume. Think about this, once you graduate, not only will you have degree, but also real, paid work experience!

Also, RIT helps you through all the process of getting a Co-op experience and a full time job. Have you ever played Super Mario and got a special start that helps you go through all the difficult obstacles? Well, The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education is exactly that! From helping you redact your resume to prepare you for interviews, this department goes above and beyond when it comes to providing all kind of resources to help you achieve your professional goals.

Still have doubts? Well, you can check the Salary and Program Data. This data has been gathered from RIT co-op students and graduates by the RIT Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, and it will tell you not only how much money students make after graduation on full time jobs, but also how many students get full time jobs after graduation.

 

An Electrical Engineering MS Student on Co-Op

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

(Mudit is currently on co-op at ANSYS, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA as a Research and Development Intern. In his role, Mudit is responsible for developing independent projects and designing benchmark projects for rigorous testing of electromagnetic solvers developed by the HFSS-Solver development team. He is also responsible for simulating the designed projects, organizing the results, and analyzing them to make sure they agrees with theoretical/measurement expected results, and for finding defects and verifying fixed defects in Ansys Electromagnetic Desktop software.)

Being an international student in the US is rewarding. However, getting an opportunity to experience working as a full-time employee for an external company, as a part of your coursework, is the cherry on top.

Choosing Rochester Institute of Technology as my graduate school was a well calculated decision, based upon a combination of my capabilities alongside a vision of what I wanted to learn and how much of that RIT could offer. All I was concerned about was what I was going to study. What I got was more than “what I wanted,” and in ways I could have never imagined. Cooperative Education is one of the best way to learn what you exactly want to work with and I am glad I choose one of the best Co-Op schools in the country.

It’s not just the theoretical and practical knowledge I gathered from my classroom lectures and project works that helped me prepare for my co-op interview with ANSYS, Inc, which I applied online for. It was also the overall learning experience I gathered from the places I worked on campus, the useful informal conversations I had with the professors I worked with and the hard working student community which always keeps me motivated when I am at school.

Getting to experience a professional and technical work environment in a company listed in FORTUNE 100 Fastest-Growing Companies, with a global footprint. ANSYS, Inc. has operations in 40 countries, which is a big learning opportunity for me. I am thankful to RIT’s Cooperative Education program for making this possible for every student who is curious enough to explore and learn.

What is a Co-op?

Picture from my Co-op during Summer 2016

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

“What is a Co-op?” is probably one of the most frequent questions I get from prospective students so I thought I should be writing a short article explaining what exactly is this word Co-op that RIT staff and students use a lot. Co-operative Education or as we love to call it, Co-op, is similar to an internship that can be done during the academic semesters (Fall or Spring) and is a practical experience that add values to your degree and can be done anywhere in the world. It is the best way to get your foot in the door of your favorite company and also gives you a great experience.

For an opportunity to be considered as co-op it should be full time (35 hours or more per week), paid, and relevant to your field of study. Employers love the co-op program at RIT because it gives them a chance to assess a student’s skill set before they offer them a full-time position at the company. Students love the co-op program because they get to do the same work as a full-time employee and sometimes even pitch new product ideas, which adds great value to the company. One of the perks of being an RIT student is that unlike many schools that require their students to pay for certain credit hours to be registered for a co-op, RIT doesn’t ask its students to pay anything. RIT recognizes that this co-op brings a lot of value to the student and also helps them financially so they encourage their students to complete a co-op before graduating.

The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education has absolutely the nicest people who are always there for students to help them prepare for their interviews, try to bring a lot of companies to the career fair for students to meet employers, review resumes and tons of other services. I personally have done one co-op and it was the best experience ever and was lucky enough to get a full time offer too. So to conclude this short article, a co-op in simple language is just an internship done during academic semesters.

More information can be found on RIT’s Career Services website. 

From full-time student to full-time employee!

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

Life is all about starting something and putting it to an end. The rest is uncertainty that makes things work. Uncertainty is an essential part of any phenomenon and it is important to realize this fact. It is important to understand that not everything in this universe can be modeled and there are things beyond the reach of our intellectual telescope. But still, life is all about starting something and putting it to an end, and that’s the best we can do.


To start up with something takes a lot and the journey to the end makes you realize you got more than you gave. It might seem that it’s something you did all on your own. That’s not true. There are countless forces working silently to take you to the designation you are intended to go to. This a tribute to all those forces that helped me to end one of the thing I started.

I came to the United States to learn new things and to deepen the knowledge of the things I knew. All I knew was what I’m going to do but I didn’t have any idea of how I will be doing it. Its not always very easy to start something off when you are 8000 miles away from your land of comfort. I’m glad and respectful for the fact that I landed at a place which eventually never made me feel the it would be substantially difficult to start something that I have never done before. Words will be less if I were to state what I learned from whom here at RIT.

For a graduate student, searching for jobs and internship, when you are already busy with your graduate level courses, can be tiring and unproductive when done in a wrong manner. It is not always that simple to manage your time for your present and planning your future. But when done in a well-organized way the, tables can be turned. It was not me who got an offer letter and ended the search of an excellent work opportunity that will enhance my knowledge and understanding of the academic interests. Rather, it was the skills I gathered from being a part of such an enriching community that helped me fetch an offer.

Its always the knowledge that you gained in the classroom that will make you a sound person. But it’s the “outside classroom” lessons that will help you to get out and find work and make you a valuable person. I would not be wise to say I cultivated the best of my qualities by my own. I owe every single inch of my small step towards success and satisfaction to RIT all the wonderful people it consists of.