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. 

My first Toastmasters Club session

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student 

I had heard about Toastmasters a couple of years ago from a friend who was looking for a way to overcome a crippling fear of public speaking. I mirrored similar feelings but due to some circumstances, I could not find out more and join. Last semester I came across an e-mail from the RIT chapter of Toastmasters. I was keen on attending a meeting but unfortunately, the timings of their weekly sessions coincided with classes so I was not able to take part.

This semester I happen to be free during their meetings so finally in the 5th week, I got myself to go for a session of Tiger Tales Toastmaster Club. I walked in apprehensively, got greeted at the door by a smiling greeter (I found out later that one member is assigned to be a “greeter” each session) who realized almost immediately that I was a newcomer and patiently walked me through the sign-in process, handed me a copy of the day’s agenda, and found me a spot.

It was 6:28 PM and the session was scheduled to start at 6:30 PM. I saw people walking around chatting with others so I expected a delay in proceedings. I could not have been more wrong. At exactly 6:30 PM, the “opener” walked up to the front of the room, banged the gavel, and started speaking. And just like that, everything was engrossed in what was being said. I found out that there was a pre-decided theme of the day, which on that day was “realization”. The “opener” spoke for a couple of minutes about it, giving the audience his view on what realization meant to him. It was short, yet informative. At 6:33 PM, he introduced the “toastmaster” for the evening, whose primary task from then onwards was conducting the meeting. The toastmaster then welcomed all members and paid special attention to the guests for the evening. The guests, or newcomers as I would call us, were given a quick overview of how Toastmasters works, how their goal is to promote public speaking and to help anyone hone their speaking skills. He introduced several key positions for the evening, a person oversaw time-keeping, another one kept track of the grammar being used, while another person counted the number of times a speaker used filler words (“ah”, “umm”, “like”).

And then the session got underway properly. There was a range of speakers for the day; one was doing his first Toastmasters’ speech, while another one was practicing to participate in an international Toastmasters competition. There was also a section where open questions were asked and anyone in attendance could go up and answer. This addressed the impromptu part of public speaking and served as a perfect complement to the previous section where speakers gave prepared speeches.

In the end, the meeting was concluded by reviews given by the “timer”, the “ah-counter”, the “grammarian”, and the general evaluator. Each person’s comments were well-appreciated and applauded. There was even a small prize given to the person who gave the best answer for the open question section.

The last thing that the president of the club did before adjourning the session was to speak to the guests of the evening and made us give our two cents about the experience. I absolutely loved the whole thing and made sure that everyone knew how much I enjoyed.

I would love to join the club and learn the art of public speaking from others and was thoroughly impressed by the ease with which each speaker spoke and the way all constructive criticism was given and taken. I cannot wait to go back next week and I hope that this will be an enriching experience for me going forward.

Winter is Here

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

I look out of the window in the morning and my car is covered with snow. I am very annoyed and curse Rochester weather for making my life difficult. My mind quickly starts thinking about writing how to survive in this weather and well long story short I started writing this piece. I wanted to title it “Winter is Coming” but then realized it made no sense because winter has been around for a couple of months already. Now let me think about some ways to survive the Rochester Snow:

1) Snow Boots and Jacket: It gets very slippery when the snow melts and turns to ice so make sure you have a good pair of snow boots. Also, get a jacket that has fur lining on the hoodie because it keeps the snow falling all over your face.

2) Exercise: The cold weather is going to make you lazy and sleepy all the time so make sure you exercise in the winter to avoid those extra pounds and be more energetic.

3) Dry Skin: Your skin and eyes will be extra dry during the snow season. First and foremost cover yourself, get a good moisturizer and a humidifier for the home.

4) Emergency Kit: Snowstorms are not very common but I would still ask people to keep an emergency kit which has things like a battery pack, flashlight, snacks, etc.

5) Stay Healthy: Falling sick is a common thing in the snow season so always make sure you have a hand sanitizer with you, get good amount of sleep and exercise.

These are some of the main things that you need to look out for but there are many other like being careful while you drive in the snow. As I wrap up the article later in the day and looking for a conclusion by wandering outside the library, I see the sunset and a little snowfall which made me realize that I have a love-hate relationship with the snow season at RIT. There are days when I am looking forward to getting out of Rochester and another day when I realize how much I love the snow. Oh before I forget, the man in the picture is President Destler who retired in 2017 and was the 9th president of RIT.

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)!


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.


New Year, New Semester

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

This year, for the first time in four years, I got to spend the New Year back at home in China. Although I couldn’t stay long enough for the Chinese New Year, I appreciate that I was able to be with my family and friends in my hometown, wishing for a bright and promising new year together.

I recall that last time when I was home for winter break, I had just finished my first semester in College, and now I am a graduate student who has got one semester down successfully. Really, time flies so quick! It’s hard to believe how much I have grown and developed as a person through the college years and my first year here at RIT. “The only thing that is constant is change,” as Heraclitus said. However, I think for me, the only constant is my willingness to accept the change and thrive, and my adaptation to them. I believe that change creates possibilities that help me to live my life better.

From high school in Maine to college in Colorado, and to now in Rochester, along with trips to Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, Belgium, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Japan, I enjoyed every single challenge and opportunity that came my way. In the meantime, I keep training myself to develop greater confidence in my ability to navigate new surroundings and further expand my skill-set. So for the new year and new semester, I am still aiming at the achievement of the very same goal, which is to embrace and adapt to the changes.

What will my biggest change or challenge be in 2018? I guess at the moment it’s going to be trying to find a valuable internship and switching into “work mode” during the summer. Gladly, RIT has a co-op/internship and summer research program that could help students get a paid internship with real world experience. If you want to learn more about this opportunity, you could visit their website for more information. So hopefully, I could get an internship in my dream field and make summer meaningful.

That is just one big challenge I could name for now, but as I am in a phase of life with so many unknown experiences lying ahead, I might get surprised at any moment. Therefore, I am also learning how to prepare myself for any possible options and feelings and know how to make healthy decisions and plans. I am extremely excited for this year full of surprises and study/work mode changes, and hopefully I could get to live the life I wish to! And I strongly hope your New Year is off to a good start!

Home Sweet Home

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

It was 7 am and I was trying to frantically catch a cab after my 30 hour journey to India. I was going to surprise my family and friends and with every ticking minute I was getting impatient. This is how my winter break started and from there on it was an amazing trip filled with some really great memories. I managed to surprise my mom and got her to cry which kind of made me feel like Ellen DeGeneres. My family was very happy to see me after 9 months and so were my friends.

After successfully finishing my first mission to surprise all my loved ones, me being a foodie, embarked on my second mission to eat all my favorite food. I might have had a hundred different dishes which probably made my Snapchat followers jealous. Later as I was cruising through the city over the rest of my trip I was surprised with all the changes to my hometown and it hit me suddenly then that it was no longer the place I knew. I wasn’t even sure I can call it my hometown anymore, given for the fact that all my favorite places are either closed or renovated. For the longest time

this place was the greatest place on Earth but today I am really not sure if I still identify the place. That was when I started thinking about Rochester, the place where I have been for a couple of years now. I was remembering my favorite Ramen place in downtown Rochester, then I remembered all my friends at work and school who I spend my weekends with and a small bunch of people who I call my family. I wasn’t sure where home is anymore and that is when I realized I did grow as a person and can’t identify a single place as home anymore. I am now a man with two homes and after all as a wise man once said “Home is where the Heart Is”.

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.


Transitioning into a Different Academic System

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

It’s final weeks now here at RIT, and it’s also my first time dealing with multiple final exams and project under a semester system. You are probably wondering why, and I am here to tell you. It’s because my undergraduate uses a block plan, which means the school only runs one block at a time for three and half weeks, and we were only responsible for one final exam or project every month. As a matter of fact, I was trained to really focus on one subject during a certain period of time and got my work done efficiently.

Whereas now I am studying under the semester system, which is the most common type of academic schedule, I feel like I am learning a lot to train my brain to multitask effectively while I am working on multiple subjects throughout one semester. Although I admit that it did take me some time to make this transition go as go as smoothly as possible, I do enjoy the way that my brain gets to switch to different modes during different tasks between different academic schedules and systems.

There’s a bunch of studies and experiments on how to multitask or what multitasking does to our brains and such, but since we are hitting the final days of school here, I still want to share some small tips for better multitasking that have been really helpful to me, especially when you are preparing for your final exams.

1. Establish clear goals and keep your schedules and to-do lists visible.
2. Create priorities and do the most important tasks first.
3. Know when you work the best and manage your schedule to use your best time free for the prioritized works.
4. Try work on related tasks together to improve quality and increase efficiency
5. It’s okay to be slow sometimes. You should allow your brain to reboot and then work up to the performance level you desire.

So I hope these would really help some of you, who are also facing final exams and good luck to you all (myself included)!