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!

Student Banking – What you need to know

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

A bank account is essential for a student. Whether it is about getting that little bit of extra money from your parents that you need for a weekend trip, or tuition fees from your sponsor, or for managing your own salary, one always needs a bank account or two.

Major American banks like Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase are popular choices. The former has a branch located in South Town Plaza (a mile away from campus), and an ATM in the Gordon Field House. The latter has a branch located about 2 miles from campus. There is no ATM on campus however with a car, it is quite accessible. The other convenient option is Advantage Federal Credit Union bank. Its branch is located on campus and there are multiple ATMs across campus.

In Bank of America, the checking account has a zero-balance requirement for students under the age of 24. For others, the monthly maintenance fee of $12 can be waived by having at least one qualifying direct deposit of $250 or more made to the account each month. If this is not done, the bank expects that a minimum of $1500 be maintained in the account each day (a grace period of 60 days in the beginning). For more information regarding this and other fees, read here. 

In Chase, the checking account has a zero-balance requirement for students between the ages of 17 and 24. For others, the monthly maintenance fee of $6 can be waived by having one direct deposit made to the account each month. If this is not done, the bank expects a balance of $5000 to be maintained every day. For more information regarding this and other fees, check here.

In Advantage Federal Credit Union, the checking account has a zero-balance requirement with no restrictions on a student’s age. The fact that the branch and ATMs are located on campus make this bank quite an attractive and affordable option. However, the limitation with this is that since it is a credit union, its presence is local so there would be no ATMs if you go out of Rochester.

All banks would have the concept of a savings account as well. They are used to store money safely (cannot be withdrawn/used from a debit card) and earn interest on it. Check with the bank for the various options that they offer. Usually, you would need to make one transaction to/from the savings account to keep it active and free of any maintenance fee.

Opening an account in any of the banks is simple and fast. As an international student, on my first day in the US, it took me 20 minutes to get my account created in Bank of America. All they needed were my passport and I-20 (to ascertain that I was indeed a student). A Social Security Number is not mandatory to open the account; it can be updated in the bank once obtained later.

In my experience till now, I have found that using Bank of America is the most convenient option considering all factors since the branch is not too far to visit if need be, and an ATM is located on campus. When I am not earning enough from the on-campus job to be able to qualify for a waiver of the monthly maintenance fee, I just maintain $1500 in my account. I treat that as a safety net for emergencies.

Credit scores are an important part of a person’s life in the US. They are checked when you buy a phone plan, rent a house, buy a car, etc. As an international student, this was an alien concept to me. Credit cards, if used well, are a good way of building a good credit score. There are firms like Credit Karma which help individuals plan their credit card usage as well as possible to reflect positively on credit reports.

Applying for a credit card from Chase or Bank of America is quite straightforward although getting one may be random if one has no prior credit history. Advantage Federal Credit Union does not offer credit cards. There are some companies like Discover which offer credit cards to students on attractive offers; you would not need to open any separate bank account with them. Credit cards also offer cashback or rewards for using them. Ask your bank representative about all possible options while applying.

Are You Ready for Graduate School?

by Estefany Rodriguez Rodriguez, Human Resource Development MS student

Going to graduate school is a big deal and for many is a great move. It means that you want to start a new path or continue to increase vital intellectual skills to a more satisfying career. It can even increase your earning power. Grad school is a unique experience and it’s a full time job that requires you to sharpen many skills and even learn new ones.
For me, it has been a great experience, and RIT made it a better one. I have been able to learn so much more than I expected, and yes it has been a bit challenging (often), but hey! NO PAIN NO GAIN (if it applies in this context 😛 ). There are many things I wish I knew before coming to grad school, and I will share some of them with you, as well as some tips I found online.

Tip #1 
Make sure all your documents are in order before coming to campus
Can you imagine arriving to the university only to find out that your important documents are missing or incomplete? Make sure that all your student and financial aid forms are complete and on file before the semester starts. Also, remember to make an appointment with your adviser, know where the office is, and ask as many questions as you can to feel ready to start your master.

Tip #2
Research about your curriculum and professors
Familiarize yourself with your courses and professors, and if you can purchase some of the text books in advance. Also, a good advice is to plan ahead with an academic plan. Research about your curriculum and make a plan for each semester, in this way you have an idea of what are the courses you are going to take throughout your career. It is less stress when the class selection process comes.

Tip #3
Know how you work

Yes, grad school can be a lot of work and very challenging, but knowing how you work can make your life easier. I don’t know about you, but I am the queen of procrastination (not that I am proud of that but I gotta be honest). During my career here at RIT I have learned to properly schedule my agenda and try to do everything on time so I burn less neurons when stressing over late work. Also, try to understand your mind and body and have discipline once you achieve it. Find out what is the organization strategy that best fits you. In my case, I use my agenda and a white board. I write down everything that is longer term on my agenda (future homework, class activities, meetings, due dates for exams, etc.) , trust me it’s soooo helpful. Now, on my white board, I usually write what I need to do for the day and my goals for the week sometimes.
“Learn when you’re most productive and when you aren’t”

Tip #4
Focus less on grades and more on learning
WAOO! I really wish I knew this before. You know, sometimes I feel that grad life is a lot more about learning and networking than good grades. Of course you want to have good grades but you also want to make you retain the information. You are also developing relationships with individuals that will become lifetime colleagues and even friends. One of my professors once said to me to focus less on the homework, and try to go to more conferences and to network more. Take her advice guys!!

Tip # 5
Get involved! 
Think about ways to get involve outside the classroom. RIT has hundreds of clubs you can join (read more about them here,) and also sports team, and you can also join student government. This is a great way to get distracted and network and develop interpersonal skills! People are sooo nice here at RIT, and fitting in won’t be a problem.

Hope this was helpful!!
ER

It only takes a moment to change everything!

by Ketan Srivastava, RIT alum ’17, Telecommunications Engineering MS

So, let us go back a little more than 3 years from now. It was August 2013! I had a very productive discussion with my team-lead at Ericsson who was working there years before I joined Ericsson in 2010. He was hence, pretty experienced as far as work and the business trends were concerned. And I, being a new GET (graduate engineer trainee), was always interested in listening and analyzing any advice that a senior would give to me since I could always catch something to learn in what they said. I actually considered myself really fortunate in this regard that my seniors thought me as able enough to understand them and hence, always guided me through things voluntarily even when everything went smooth and I most welcomed it each time!

So, that day in August 2013, my team-lead told me that I was limiting my fascination. That the product and the software upgrade procedures that I was keen on mastering would only help me in Ericsson and nowhere else in the world. At first, I was a bit disappointed but after a lot of research, I realized that the Ericsson platform I worked on was excellent but used only by Ericsson and nowhere else at all! And I? I was early in my career and I wanted to be flexible enough as far as my competency is concerned so that I can show my work to others as well and gain appreciation at an inter-organization level and not just within the organization.

I was already troubled by it and I kept on finding things not knowing what I wanted. Some weeks later, in September 2013, I had a long discussion with an AT&T US engineer about the upcoming changes that Ericsson was planning to make in order to keep up its top position. During that, I was amazed how that engineer who was same age as mine, was literally talking technology! Yes, indeed! I felt like he wasn’t speaking English but he was actually talking technology! And moving totally away from the topic awkwardly, I asked him what he studied as I explained how fascinated I was with the kind of knowledge he had. He was humble and generous enough to tell me a few things. He also shared some docs that he asked me to go through to get a clearer picture of what he was talking about. I went through that and understood that it was exactly what I wanted to learn. The whole internet technology! One which Ericsson or AT&T or any organization in the world uses now and in the future i.e. the Internet technology!

As much as I felt incomplete then, I also had found a way to not only learn but to be able to get rewards back for my learning. I could work on multi-company platforms with the same knowledge as no matter what equipment a company used, they would ultimately use it for the same purpose and i.e. the internet! I had decided to learn the fundamentals of networking now and shift my domain from Wireless. And, on further research, I had also found my destination to have the same. None other than the United States of America where, networking technology is the ultimate backbone of the country’s economy. The universities here like RIT not only want their students to learn something new, but make sure that the technology that they learn is up to date and at par with the demands laid down by some of the internet technology giants like Cisco, Amazon Web Services, Facebook and uncountable names more. Thus, I decided that I should rather get into something 100% which I’m interested in, than just being able to manage to study something randomly after my work hours at Ericsson.

This whole process did take a lot of time and effort. In point of fact, I had stopped going anywhere on weekends too as I wanted to utilize that time I got, in researching further about studying networking from the US universities including RIT. It was then, in November 2013, when I had finalized that I wish to pursue MS. So, I am always curious and willing to learn. To add, I am also the recipient of the prestigious ‘ACE’ award by Ericsson but having worked for almost 4 years for the company, it was now time to move on in pursuit of more knowledge and those 4 months from August to November played a crucial role in my decision making for pursuing higher studies in the US.

So, this is the story, my experiences, as to what really motivated me to take this nervous step of leaving ‘everything’ behind like my job, family, friends, my girlfriend, my home, my food, that weather, those sweets, those spices, those festivals, those dresses, those dances and what not! In point of fact, it was a nervous step for me to leave that ‘FEELING’ behind! But, like my mom told me that one has to sometimes give up something close to the heart in order to gain something. And after all, they are all always there for me anyway. So, with a heart filled with sorrow, excitement, motivation, happiness, tears, a smile, and simply every emotion you can think of, I decided to move on towards my pursuit of a Masters degree here in the US.

Disclaimer: This is the first blog of my life that I wrote and, as a proud RIT TIGER!