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. 

RIT’s Secret Amenities

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

In my last Blog I spoke about the importance of being active and taking care of our bodies. This week I would like to highlight some of the facilities and healthy, fun opportunities that are available at RIT.

On top of the various clubs that students create and the multiple physical education/health classes taught, there are some hidden gems in RIT that I have found during my time here. First off, for a motivated individual, they supply you with everything that you would possibly need. I have always been an advocate for working out and have visited many gyms, so believe me when I say that RIT has an excellent fitness center. They cover over machine and free weight necessary, while also providing an open exercise area on the upper level for CrossFit workouts, or stretching. There are multiple indoor and outdoor tracks if you’re one of those crazy running people as well. Working out alone can be daunting, but the staff are more than happy to assist in spotting you or even giving advice. Now to the hidden gems.

RIT’s Wellness Center has a sign-up option where you can work with a trainer to carve out a workout or fitness plan/diet. This can provide anyone an excellent advantage and expert guidance. They can also check your weight, body fat, and ranges of motion as you set goals to improve all those functions. This can save you a lot of independent time and research.

Another cool hidden gem that every student should know is the free chiropractic care that RIT students are available to use. The Rochester Health Center, Affiliate of New York Chiropractic College on, 1200 Jefferson Rd, Rochester, NY 14623, offers all RIT students free treatment. It is an excellent training facility that I have been using since I found out about it. Chiropractic treatment can be beneficial to anyone, and is an awesome advantage to have while at college.

Some final gems that current or incoming students might want to keep in mind are, the Red Barn Rock climbing center, the Wave pool (lazy river) section of the aquatics center, the hot tub, the sauna rooms, the ice skating rink with public skate hours, the indoor racquetball courts, and the outdoor tennis courts which have multiple public hours. A lot of times we want to do something different and fun, but aren’t sure what to do. These are just a few ideas of things available.

I’ll rap up with this. As you’ve read along, this can easily sound like a cheesy infomercial where I end the speech saying, “All of this can be yours for only $19.99!”. But that’s not my goal. I have always operated under the opinion that the more you know, the more you’ll do. When I graduated from undergrad I looked back and was a disappointed to find out about some things that I didn’t even know existed. I always had a few regrets of things that I wished I had tried at the time. This Blog is just to highlight some of the great opportunities here that might interest you. Give it a shot. You never know if you’ll find something you might truly enjoy.

P.S (Here’s the links to the Facility hours and the Chiropractor College)

The Minimalist Journey

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

It was the onset of Fall, and I had already decided to move from my off-campus apartment to someplace with better commute options to RIT. I hadn’t decided where, but, I knew I was moving out. My mind was already prepared for shifting, and slowly, I started sensing the materialistic possessions around me. My closet was overflowing; the drawer was full of random stuff, the shelves brimming, and random piles of boxes in the storage area. A thought crossed my mind; I can never fit all that in the three suitcases I came with. And just then the Minimalism video I had watched a few months ago popped into my head.

I binge watched few videos on Minimalism, and I felt connected with this idea because there was so much clutter around me, it was just too much. I went through my entire room and the apartment to remove things I didn’t need anymore. While I was at it, I realized three major causes of my situation, two of which are prevalent to other students too.

Of course, the first is bringing 3 FULL medium size suitcases along with me. It was the first time I was moving out of my house to live independently, and I thought, I needed All my stuff. Almost all incoming international graduate students I came across, were carrying that much belongings and that’s where the problem lies – normalizing the fact that we will need so much stuff.

As far as you are not moving to a remote island, you can buy things as you need. That brings us to the second cause – Students buy things, a lot of things. Though we brought so many clothes, we are going to buy clothes pertaining to trends in the new city. Something else we students buy a lot is electronics and gadgets to ease our life. For this, I would ask you to go through your online order history and analyze if you have extensively utilized all the products you ever bought. The third issue in my case is that I was a hoarder. I wasn’t good at letting go the things.

Well, this journey helped me to downsize heavily on the overwhelming materialistic possessions. I learned two lessons: one, what I really need and two, let go what I don’t need. Minimalism doesn’t mean to live with very few items, but, it means to live with things you really need. Minimalism was not a journey, it’s a lifestyle for me and I’m still exercising it.

My $0.02 to the students who will move to a new place for graduate studies is to carry just a suitcase and (maybe) a half of essential stuff. Buy the necessities as you adjust to your new life, but remember you may move to another city soon, so don’t hoard a lot.

It’s the Year of the Dog!

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

Last Friday marked the beginning of the celebrations for the Chinese New Year (aka Chinese Spring Festival), and it lasted through this Sunday, Feb 18th, at RIT. RIT Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) held a Chinese New Year Celebration Gala on Sunday night. The Chinese Zodiac is made up of 12 different animals and each of them gets an outing every dozen years. 2018 is a Year of the Dog.

Lunar New Year is always the most important and traditional festival of the year in Chinese culture, and we were so pleasantly surprised and glad that RIT president, David C. Munson Jr., also showed up at the event with his family and showed to support for the Chinese international students. During the event, we had performances including Chinese folk dance, rap, crosstalk and comedic skits. We were also honored to invite our well-liked admissions counselor, David Wivell, to give a welcome speech at the beginning of the Gala. Additionally, lottery drawing also drew the attention of the audience. The biggest prize that was given was an Amazon Fire Tablet.

In case you were wondering, Chinese people usually celebrate Spring Festival by having reunion dinner with family and watching Chinese Near Year Gala on TV. In general, people from the North prefer to make and eat dumplings on Chinese New Year’s Eve, and those from the South will eat spring rolls or sticky rice cake. This year I got to have the large banquet with all of my classmates in my program. It was a bit like a potluck, where people bring various dishes and snacks. But meanwhile, we also handmade dumplings, hotpot and other meat dishes for everyone to share. This New Year feast meant a lot to most of the kids in the program since it’s their first experience of Chinese New Year oversea.

For me, Chinese New Year is more like a celebration of friendship and Chinese culture now because it has been 8 years since I got back home for the Lunar New Year. Although I miss the feeling of having a big dinner with my family, I’m pleased that there’s always a new year atmosphere during the Lunar New Year time in the U.S., and I’m super proud of this unique experience and culture that I have. Happy New Year of the Dog everyone! 新年快乐 (Happy New Year in Chinese, pronounced Xīn Nián Kuài Lè/sheen nian kwai luh)!


Government of the people, by the people and for the people

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

It was just another snowy day at RIT and I was having a conversation with my roommate about some food that is being thrown out by dining services at the end of the day. It deeply saddened me to hear food being wasted and I wanted to do something about it. After asking around I heard about the Student Government who is a part of the governing body at RIT which makes policies and votes on them along with Staff Council and Academic Senate. Their mission reads “To represent the interests of the student body through the implementation of innovative programs, services, and initiatives that enrich student lives. We will be the primary source of advocacy for students from Rochester Institute

of Technology and we will utilize our shared governance structure to voice student opinion and concern. RIT Student Government will be the forefront of change within the university.”

I was deeply intrigued by this and felt they would be the best people to talk to about my concern and I did end up talking to them about it. It was a great interaction and that is my first interaction with Student Government. In the next few months I kept learning more and more about them and felt very passionate about the change they are bringing about at RIT. Then came the wonderful day when I saw that they were accepting applications for different elected position in the Student Government. My eyes finally fell upon the Graduate Senator position and understood that the position is of a representative for the graduate students at RIT. After an intense month of campaigning and elections I have successfully won the elections and started in my role. As I went about in the role, I understood the kind of impact that Student Government has in the university. On a weekly basis, I work with the various Graduate Directors in order to discuss the new
programs that are being proposed by the departments and also propose any changes required to the graduate student policies. Apart from that I work with the different graduate student advocacy groups to address graduate student concerns like housing, transportation, etc. Also, I work with President Munson on the University Council where we discuss and vote on various university policy changes.

The presence of Student Government in the University Council ensures representatives who will be looking out for the best interests of students on the council. The impact that my work has on the students and various other stakeholders makes me feel more responsible to the role I have been elected to at RIT. Today as I write this blog I feel proud to be a student of RIT where students are given importance in policy making and this proves that indeed the school cares about its students genuinely and takes their opinions. I see the RIT Student Government as the Government of the students, by the students and for the students and glad to be a part of it.


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.

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.


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.

Staying active – A review of RIT’s Intramural and Fitness Activities

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

Talking about science all of us know how much we have advanced in the various fields of science. Diving deep into medial and biological sciences we have come across various astonishing facts and the working of the home to our soul, our body. Skimming through the countless pages of relevant literature one may say that we’ve came a long way exploring about us. But have you ever tried asking an expert in the sciences of human body about how much knowledge we have acquired of the human body? Well you can expect an answer which revolves around “we just know the basics”.

It is not a rocket science but for a healthy life, things must be in balance. The forces that drive your life must be in balance. It is important to keep your mental state in synchronization with the physical. There are many factors that play a key role in this. The oldest and the most well-known practices that keeps our mind healthy and our body strong is keeping the body moving. For a scholar, sports & physical working out is as important as academics. Studying can be tiring and there are things that can be done about it. The best thing for me, is to just go to a place where you can show some of your physical skills. Close your books and grab a football. Or get your swim attire and jump in the pool. There is a whole different science out of which you can conclude that any kind of physical workout reduces the stress level by a significant amount.

RIT Intramural activities present more than just the opportunity to be fit. Intramurals is an event people can team up with others competing in groups. It’s not just a sport but a learning opportunity and an event which has significant takeaways. RIT is home to over 2700 international students, so intramural activities provide the opportunity to interact with people from around the globe. Any team game is a serious business and it takes lots of practice, planning, strategizing and team effort. All these challenges bring the team members in close contact with each other which at the end of the tournament ends up in lifetime friendship. Sports is one of the best way to connect to someone because in the sports way of getting to know somebody it’s not just the talking that you do, you get engaged in a team activity, supporting each other and standing physical challenges together, exchanging real-time thoughts and ideas with a bunch of people you hardly know.

Apart from these amazing activities there is also a fitness center with all the state-of-the-art equipment which can help you keep yourself fit and strong. At the fundamental level it is always your determination that helps you, but if you are surrounded by something great there is an induction of greatness. And if you have the right determination and the correct environment you’ll resonate, and you’ll be at the peak. The fitness center is such a kind of place. It not just offers you equipment but motivation and strength.

Anything will be less in appreciation for this place. It has been home to RIT’s best swimmers, runners, basketball players and what not. It’s a place full of success stories, and if not, inspiration and motivation. Health is wealth indeed and I really feel RIT embraces this fact. It is very important for an individual to stay in good mental health. And the first step towards this is the physical fitness. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful activity centre.

It’s fine to close your books. Take a deep breath and let go whatever is stressing you. Go out dance in the dance studio, dive deep and swim in pool, tighten up your shoelaces, get the right music on you Spotify and run on the elevated running track. Stay fit and stay healthy!

Winter is Coming, to Rochester

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

I am from India, a land where a tropical climate is the norm for most parts of the country. I am from the southern part of India, where temperatures range between 60 degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I had never seen temperatures below 32degrees, let alone see snow!

When I received my admit from RIT, I was thrilled to be starting grad school. Family members and friends who were aware of the weather in the Northeastern US used to tell me about the inclement weather that awaited me here but I figured, if it is an inhabited place, it cannot be that bad. I mean, why would humans choose to live in such a climate if it was so difficult to live in.

I first arrived in Rochester in the month of July, a time and weather that I learned later were like rays of sunshine on a cold, dreary winter day! As the fall season started, temperatures gradually dropped from the 70s to the 50s, I soon realized what I was in for in a few months. When the first snow fell during Thanksgiving week, it was such a beautiful sight. That snowfall was unexpected so even though it was not a lot, RIT had given us a snow day and classes were cancelled. I thought that maybe this (about 6-10 inches) was a lot of snow and was the limit, which explained the snow day. I was so wrong! The next few months I saw snow on the ground which didn’t melt for weeks, a snowstorm which halted all movement for 72 hours due to nearly 4 feet of snow everywhere, and a freak windstorm (winds reached ~80 mph) which knocked out power for large areas in Rochester for nearly 96 hours.

The winter months in Rochester can get quite gloomy and take some getting used to. Once the daylight savings were disabled in November, the sun set by 4:30 PM which disoriented me to no end the first few days. The days can get bright enough at times to fool first-timers like me to think that the sun’s warmth could be felt.

I was excited by all the snow the first few weeks, and I was impressed by how smooth life went on despite the climate. Roads and walkways were cleared well enough for commuting to be possible. Eventually, I got used to the snow-covered landscape everywhere I went, and though the cold did not go away till May, I kind of missed it when the summer came around. I guess I cannot wait for the next round of biting cold, snow, thick jackets, gloomy skies, and foggy breaths.