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. 

Financial Funding 101

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

Let’s not lie, Graduate school can be expensive and what’s better than financial funding to a grad student? But, at times it’s confusing what all are the available options, what do those options mean and how to approach? This article is going to be your Financial Funding 101. Let’s begin:

1. Scholarship: Based on previous scholarly activities, students are awarded merit-based scholarship upon admission. The amount varies based on how much funding the department has. This is the percentage value of your tuition and you don’t need to apply explicitly for it, each applicant is automatically considered for the scholarship. It might increase after 1-2 semesters based on your academic performance.

2. Graduate Assistantship: This role involves working as a support role or conducting research work for your academic department. The compensation includes some percentage of tuition waiver along with payment for the hours you work. Check your Department Office for any vacancy.

3. Graduate Assistant with RIT Student Affairs: So, this one includes a variety of roles like the resident advisor, Greek life assistant, orientation programming assistant, health promotion and marketing, assistant to Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement and few more. Compensation varies from hourly wage to stipends along with housing and meal plan. Check here for more details: https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/about/GA-opportunities

4. Research Assistantship: This one is simple. You work with a professor on a research project. Usually, the compensation is in the form of hourly wage but in some cases, you might receive some percentage of tuition waiver in-addition-to or instead-of the hourly wage. For this, you need to approach professors who are conducting a research project in your area of interest.

5. Teaching Assistantship: TA is generally assisting the professor with instructional responsibilities and you get paid for the number of hours you work. For TA opportunities, you will need to approach professors teaching a course you have completed before.

6. Clerical Jobs: These are on-campus jobs which involve clerical tasks like office assistant, student assistant with different departments, library, student center and various other offices at RIT. Compensation is in form of hourly wage. To apply, you can check for opportunities on RIT’s job portal: https://rit.joinhandshake.com/

7. Technical Jobs: These includes all kind of computing jobs from lab assistant, system administrator, web development for various departments. Compensation is in form of hourly wage. To apply, you can check for opportunities on RIT’s job portal: https://rit.joinhandshake.com/

8. Dining Services: If you love food and working with it, then this is interesting with roles involving food prep, production, inventory, cashier, dining room attendant for various dining locations on-campus. Again the compensation is the hourly wage. To apply, you can check for opportunities on RIT’s job portal: https://rit.joinhandshake.com/

Note: For all of these opportunities, you will need your RIT email address.

 

First Semester of Grad School – An overview

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

A wise man once said “And alas, I take this weight off my shoulders, far heavier than any object I have held.” A quote, which I like to believe, the author wrote in regards to finals week. Every year of College you go into finals week either astonished at how much you’ve learned, or abashed at how little you remember. Often times a little bit of both. Either way, it can be overwhelming as you summarize the learnings of the semester. At the same time there is something special about finishing that last test. You walk out of the room with a feeling of accomplishment, finally relieved knowing that you can truly relax for a bit. Oddly it often feels like there is still some assignment looming over your shoulder, but that feeling soon fades.

For my first semester of Grad school many of the feelings were similar, but there was something significant that differed. The classes in Grad school are conducted to bridge the gap between knowledge and experience. There is a much greater focus on practical use and implementation. You spend four years storing up and building knowledge from undergrad that you now not only add on to, put also learn the practicality of, through case studies and situational analysis. This kind of learning is special, because it doesn’t only enhance your knowledge of the subject matter, it also helps you form a leader’s mindset. For any job, regardless of position, this mindset only helps you. If you are in the lowest position at your job but you think like a leader, then the sky is the limit for you. Because that mindset shows in your excellent work ethic and demeanor, both of which foster success.

It took me a long time to decide to go to grad school. It’s expensive and a big commitment. I wrestled with the decision, and weighed many pros and cons. Maybe I could go and work for a couple of years and then come back or do night classes. Maybe I can get a job that pays for it down the road. Maybe I will never want to go back to school. Maybe I should just go right into it with the 4+1 opportunity. There are so many possibilities. It gets overwhelming. But I think that at the heart of it you come to realize that the right or wrong answer that you’re looking for, might not exist. Sometimes you just have to make a decision and go with it. Life is full of these moments. In June I decided to go with it. Was is the right decision? Who knew if I’d get in on time? Hadn’t taken my GMAT yet, hadn’t even started my application. There were so many questions and “what if’s?”, but I ran with it. And now, as I sit here relaxing on winter break, one great semester into grad school, and one last semester left… I’m glad I did.

Graduate Class Highlight

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

For the past few months I have been taking a management class called Organizational Behavior and Leadership with Professor Bob Barbato. A lot of leadership concepts sound self-explanatory to be quite honest, but it wasn’t until the first case study breakdown that I realized the importance and relevance of what we were being taught. This class highlights the characteristics necessary in a successful leader, which can be effective both inside and outside the business world. Being a leader seems straight-forward, but there are a lot of aspects that come together to truly form a great one. Personally, when I go on to work, I want to change company cultures, encourage growth, and help make a difference. This requires certain characteristics. A leader needs to control his environment, understand those that he is working with, working under, and that our working under him. It is not easy to get a whole company on board with your ideas, or to know that you are leading them in the right direction. Every interaction needs a strong degree of emotional intelligence. This means not only being able to manage one’s own emotions but to understand and manage the emotions of others and a group as a whole. A manager will make sure things are operating appropriately, and as a leader will shape the culture. These concepts are the same for friend groups, social standings, and all of our interactions. First we must understand ourselves, and then we must learn how to understand others.

Professor Barbato does a great job at highlighting the importance of all of this, and more, by relating it to business scenarios, and everyday experiences. It is a class I would recommend not only for business students, but for any person interested in self-betterment, or being a better leader. We often see traits like leadership as a God given talent, but I believe that it is a skill that all can obtain, and everyone can improve on. Winston Churchill was a terrible public speaker when he first began his role in office, but that did not deter him. He practiced and worked at it, and went on to give one of the most inspirational speeches during World War Two. Any expert will tell you, to be great at something takes practice. Michelangelo once said, “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.” And that is coming from one of the greatest artists of all time.

If you would like to learn what it takes to be a great leader in your life, during your time at RIT, I recommend this class for you. You won’t become an expert overnight, but you’ll definitely be on the right track. Progress excels when two things are in effect; a great teacher, and an eager learner. In the management 735 class of Organizational Behavior and Leadership you will find a great teacher– now it is up to you to go out and learn.

Just a City Boy

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

Born and raised in New York City (sorry South Detroit,) life started to look a lot different when I committed to play basketball at Houghton College, a small liberal arts school in upstate New York. I remember the drive up when I was first getting dropped off. We stopped seeing civilization a good hour before reaching the school. It was an endless scene of fields, farms, livestock, and the occasional Amish buggy. I vividly remember thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”

The first month was the most challenging. Other than the general struggles of making new friends and adapting to college, there are a lot of cultural differences between living in a small town and living in a city. For starters, everyone says hello. I always thought that I was a polite person for smiling if I made random eye contact with a stranger, but this was a new extreme. I kind of liked it. It was a little act, took minimum effort, but for some reason made you feel slightly more at home.

People also seemed kinder, and had a genuine interest in you. There wasn’t a big rush, or an urgency about everything. It was very different for me. I had developed habits that were completely opposite of this kind of living. My walking and driving never quite adapted. Eighteen years in the city and you develop a speed walk that’s the equivalent to a regular man’s jog. My friends were often telling me to slow down through ragged breaths. As for driving, I can’t count the amount of times someone drove with me and never asked for another ride. It’s the fast and furious in the city, the yellow cabs are merciless…

There are countless other examples of cultural differences that I encountered, but they all came together to paint one big picture for me. We have all experienced life differently growing up. Our countries, families, environments, religions, and homes, have all played a role in the way we view things. As we experience these different cultures, there are a lot of important things to learn from the way other people view and do things. At the same time, going somewhere new will often show you things about yourself that you might have never noticed. It doesn’t have to be a new country or change of scenery, it could simply be a different group or new friend. Regardless of what’s new, enjoy the different perspective, embrace it, and learn from it. There’s no better time than now.

RIT’s Career Fair – Tips to Succeed!

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

There are places which can make us feel good and there are places which makes us feel energetic. What can be a better sight than seeing bees harvesting the nectar from the beautiful flowers of contrasting colors. Or walking around the university campus on a nice evening with an orange sun shining over your face from the best possible photographic angle. Turn your head and you’ll find smart individuals with their individual personalities shining bright as the sun. Individuals known as students. Recently the RIT campus changed to a place where you’ll see grown up people in nice & decent attire and a folder in their hand. It’s the career fair day! It might be a life changing experience for some. For others it would be a lesson worth embracing. Long story short, it’s a big day for students!

Career fairs can be a chaos if not planned properly. Many factors must be synchronized to make it work for you. Prior information, planning and a little bit of insight is always helpful for tackling what’s coming. With of pool of more than 250 companies coming in, career fairs themselves test your managerial skills before any prospective employer interviews you. Following are few of the key things to be kept in mind for making this chaos work for you.

Plan everything prior to the big day! Shortlist the companies that suite you. RIT’s website and mobile app can be very handy when it comes to shortlisting. Prepare a general introduction and work on it. Read about the companies and the work they do. Figure out about what positions they are offering. Learn about the specific skills the employer possibly will be looking for.

Prepare a specific and relevant resume. It is always good to have a general resume. What will help you getting a call for a position is a specific resume. Make sure that your resume has enough matching keywords the employer is looking for. You have to present your skills differently to different employers. Although it may be the same set of skills you’ll be putting in your resume, customize the layout and content to meet the employer’s needs.

Managing your time is essential! You will not be the only one engaging in nice conversations with the representatives. It is quite possible that there will be a line and delay in a few of your shortlisted targets. For a career fair running for 6 hours it’s a good estimation that you’ll be spending at least 20 minutes with one of your shortlisted companies. This gives you an upper limit of engaging with 9 companies if you plan to attend the fair for 3 hours. The previous paragraph will help you saving a significant amount of time here.

Be professional and enthusiastic! This really helps even if you are not good at your coursework. Showcasing a little bit of humor always makes you memorable. Talk as much as you can about your interests and doings which can be relevant and make an impression on the representative you are talking to. Ask them question about what positions they have. Even if there is nothing you fit into, ask about the possibilities of you being useful.

Getting through day one is easy! The reason behind this is, most of the representative you’ll talk to on day one probably is not the actual recruiters. You just have to be good at presentation to get an interview call which you can manage with the expertise you have in your field.

Career fairs are the very first steps towards the big and competitive world outside the RIT campus. It’s a day that teaches you how to seek an opportunity and a lesson on how to improve if you were not able to. It’s a day that makes you wear formal shoes & taste how it feels like presenting yourself to the world. We all face extraordinary challenges in our lives. The realization of the beauty of standing those challenges starts with this day.

 

Celebrating Home Culture at RIT

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

This year the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, fell on October 4th. This festival is when Chinese people worldwide celebrate the end of the harvest season and get together with families and friends. As an international student, I sometimes feel sad to be far away from home during festivals like this, but luckily, the Chinese Student Scholar Association (CSSA) at RIT hosted a Mid-Autumn Festival party during the weekend before the festival, which helped maintain our home culture and also introduced it to a bigger community.

During the party, we played themed games and had some really good traditional mooncake and Chinese food. I was glad to see that the RITCSSA brought us closer while helping us relieve the feeling of homesick and enjoy student life as international students more here.

CSSA is not the only student club that draws the campus community closer – there are actually approximately 300 active clubs on RIT campus! During the New Student Orientation, usually in late August, the school will host a club and organization fair that gives all students the opportunity to check out all of the clubs and activities available on campus and learn more about them. You could check out the Center for Campus Life website for more details. The listing of groups and organizations on campus could also be found here.

I have also heard of a group named Into the ROC, which offers students unique and challenging opportunities to explore the culture in the greater-Rochester community, such as kayaking down the Genesee river and doing some community service with a local non-profit. Free transportation and food are usually generally offered as well during the events! I personally would love to sign up for a trip with them soon and experience life with the community. You could visit their site to find out more details.

So as you can see, there is actually a wide variety of fun and exciting events and activities for students both on and off campus. And even if you don’t see any club that interests you, you may start your own club, and start to recruit your own members to share the same interest! Now go ahead and explore! Good luck!

Transitioning to ROC

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

In early June I decided that I wanted to go to graduate school at RIT. In late July I took my GMAT exam, and, by August 22nd I had moved to Rochester. I didn’t know much about this city, I was sad to leave my mother who cooks like an iron chef, and I was a little hesitant to move into a house with three guys that I really didn’t know anything about. Despite it all, I couldn’t shake a feeling of excitement. Transitions can be an intimidating time in every person’s life, but there’s something exciting about change. Its nerve racking, and often filled with many mistakes, (and in my experience, parking tickets), but at the end of the day it leads to growth.

With my move to Rochester for grad school there was a transition in culture, education, housing, and so much more. For example, my first job while here was working on a farm. Coming from NYC I thought that I’d be milking cows and breaking in wild horses. I remember telling my friends back home, like I was reliving an old western. Much to my surprise, that’s not the way this farm work goes. Instead I was on an apple farm manning an apple cannon that uses air compression to fire apples out into a field. What? Exactly. Not what I was expecting, but cool nonetheless. And that’s the real lesson here. Change and expectations go hand in hand.

As I grow accustomed to graduate school and life in Rochester, I am starting to realize that you cannot rely on your expectations or hope to know exactly how things will play out. Sometimes you just need to take the change as it comes and learn from it, grow from it, and especially, enjoy it. From my enlightenment of farm life, to my many parking tickets, to the incredible enjoyment I have had in my graduate business classes, moving to ROC has been a whirlwind of change, some of it like I expected, and some of it entirely different… but interestingly, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Except not having my mom’s cooking…

And the parking tickets.

First Day at RIT –

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

When I got to Rochester for the first time in late July, 2016, I had some idea of what all needed to be done but with not much conviction. An extremely helpful leasing office assistant at Park Point helped me out with a map of RIT and the key areas marked out. However, without the use of Google Maps, I ended up not being able to follow the map too well and took a much longer route than necessary to get to Gleason Circle! A helpful app to download on your mobile phone beforehand would be “RITMobile”. It is available on the App/Play stores. The RIT Wi-Fi is accessed using the same university credentials that you would have used during the application process. This post is my attempt to help an incoming student with their first day on campus at RIT.

So, let me begin with introducing Gleason Circle. It is where you would catch the RTS public bus (to head towards downtown), the RIT shuttles (to get to Park Point, the Province, and all on-campus housing), and The Lodge’s shuttles. It is also from where you usually get picked up by a friend or a cab. This is the south-central part of campus (roughly where Texas is in the continental United States). The residence halls (dorms) are located to the east of this point, and almost all the academic blocks are to the west of this circle. It is the de-facto center of the campus. You could check out the map of RIT at https://maps.rit.edu.

For an international student such as myself, the first place to go to is the International Student Services office which is on the second floor of the Student Alumni Union (SAU). This is roughly north-west from Gleason Circle.

Once signed in with ISS, you need to get your student ID. This is done at the Registrar’s office (first floor) which is in the George Eastman building (right next to the SAU).

After this, your previous academic documents might need to be verified in case they were not submitted during/after application. For doing this, you would take your degree certificate and transcripts to the Graduate Enrollment Services office which is on the lower level in the Bausch & Lomb Center.

While running around finishing up the formalities, if you feel like grabbing a bite to eat, check out the various dining options that are on campus. Although all may not be open until start of term, there certainly are some places that could serve you nice food; the Brick City café, Artesano’s (both in the SAU), Crossroads, the Cantina Grill (both in the Global Village), or the always available vending machines all over campus. I personally love the deli sandwiches at Brick City, and the nachos at Salsarita’s (located within the Cantina).

After you are done filling up on some much-needed energy, I would suggest you visit the Student Health Center in the August Center to verify and ensure that all necessary immunization and health insurance related action items are taken care of. Do visit the Wallace library; it is right by Gleason Circle and it houses Java’s café, which, per most people I know, serves the best coffee on campus.

Depending on your major, your department could be located anywhere from the George Eastman building to the Golisano Institute of Sustainability (far west of the campus). Look around and start getting used to the campus. RIT is going to be your home for at least a couple of years, start getting familiar with it right away!

Working on campus – how to find a job

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

Working part-time is an integral part of a student’s life. It provides a chance to earn some money which could go towards rent, groceries, or for a trip out of town.

As per the Student Employment Office (SEO), RIT has over 9,000 student jobs on-campus. These range from dining services to administrative jobs, from working as librarians to being tutors and teaching assistants. The minimum hourly pay for an on-campus job, as per NY state law, is $9.70. The pay may go up to $15 or so per hour for some jobs. Dining services pay minimum wage. RIT states that no student may work more than 20 hours in a week (counted from a Friday morning to the following Thursday midnight). The student has complete flexibility to choose the hours for which they would like to work, subject to shifts available at their workplace. Managers at all jobs know students are eager to work but at the same time will put studies ahead of any job they do; they are usually able to accommodate any modification in work schedules to work around mid-terms or project submissions, if such requests are put in advance.

The SEO requires a student to report any new job that they get, and assign a badge/punch number for the same. This number is unique to each student’s each job. This is used to maintain time sheets. A student is issued an SEO card every semester, and this is a mandatory requirement to be taken care of by the student. This card is issued only once the SEO can see that the student is enrolled as a full-time student for the term in question (12 credits for an undergraduate and 9 for a graduate student). Salaries are paid biweekly, on the Friday after the end of a pay cycle. They can be picked up as checks from the manager or auto-transfers can be set up toward the student’s bank account.

When I first arrived at RIT in August 2016, I had not taken up a job immediately as I figured I would first see how hectic my coursework would be. I found out that dining services usually employ a lot of students. So about 2-3 weeks after start of the session, armed with my class schedule, I had first approached Gracie’s (located in Grace Watson Hall, near the Residence Halls) for a job; however, there were no positions available there by then. My roommate had just started working at RITz Sports Zone (in the lower level of the Student Alumni Union) and told me to try my luck there. It took me a few days to get a hold of the manager during her break, and once I spoke to her and asked her for a job for around 10 hours a week, she immediately looked at my class schedule and asked me if Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 AM to 1:30 PM would work for me. I said it would be fine, and that was it. I started the day after that. People at RITz were extremely helpful and welcoming. It only took me a few days to get used to working in an environment I had never seen before. I had always been a customer at a restaurant; I had never given thought to how things worked behind the scenes.

During my winter break, I came across an opening on the SEO website for the job of a Graduate Student Liaison at the Graduate Enrollment Office. I applied, interviewed, and got the job. The last seven-odd months that I have been working here have been wonderful, to say the least. I have had the opportunity of interacting with every graduate admissions counselor and with many of the incoming graduate students from India. I have had some insightful conversations with people and have learned quite a bit about the various questions that an incoming international student has, and how answers given by someone currently at RIT helps them out.

In conclusion, I would like to say that by working different on-campus jobs the past year, I have learned a lot about some of the efforts that go in to the functioning of a university the way it does. It has been a challenge balancing work shifts with my studies, one that I have enjoyed and managed quite well. I hope this serves as a helpful read to all newcomers to RIT!