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.