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.

 

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!