Thursday, January 31, 2013

College Blog: Getting credit where credit is due

Is it OK for students to have to pay to get credit for an unpaid internship?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 11:50 AM

It seems like finding an internship in college is a lot like finding love in college. It's hard to find one that's a good match for you. Students will apply to dozens of places, but might only hear back from one or two - if they're lucky.

The search for the perfect internship becomes even harder when payment comes into play.

"I've applied to maybe 15 different internships," says second-year RIT journalism student TiannaManon. "All but one of those is for credit only."

The problem with credit-only internships? If students are not currently taking classes at a college, they have to pay for all of the credits they would get from the internship.

"If I were to do an internship over the summer, it would cost me $960 per credit," Manon says.

Paying for credits is a problem for a lot of students like Manon. While engineers and software designers can find paid internships easily, liberal-arts students have a much more difficult time finding a paid internship.

For months I've been searching for internships in the journalism and photography fields. The few that I have come across that actually pay are in Manhattan, where you would end up paying more to live than you would make working for three months at that internship. Not to mention that it seems like the only ones that pay are the ones that require you to already have a few internships under your belt.

After my entire Newswriting II class this quarter presented our list of dream internships the other week, my professor HindaMandell pointed out something very obvious, that I had honestly not thought about too much before.

"To get a good internship, you have to have already had an internship somewhere else," said Mandell.

Looking at all of these internship application requirements online, I realize just how true it is. You need experience to get experience in this world. The only bad thing is that sometimes you just might have to pay for that experience.

Since I am leaving school soon, I am looking into internships all over the country. But since the vast majority of internships related to my field of work are unpaid, and since it is illegal for companies to have people work for free, it looks like I just might have to pay to get credit for an internship.

Honestly, I'd rather work for free than pay for experience.

College Blog: A Google obsession

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 11:48 AM

If you have never heard or said, "Google it," I would probably accuse you of being a liar.

Roughly 15 years since its founding in September of 1998, Google has become a household word. Everyone knows about Google, and it would not be a long shot to say that everyone I know has used Google. Since 2006, the word "Google" has even been in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

How did I know that? I Googled it.

For students at every level, as well as in the workplace, Google is a useful tool. But are we too dependent on it?

At the Rochester Institute of Technology, students believe that Google, when used properly, can be extremely effective. Nevertheless, has it made us think that we are smarter than we are? Are we taking advantage of not needing as much knowledge?

Luke Solomon, a third-year management information systems major at RIT, doesn't think Google has made us any less smart. Rather, it gives people a good means of figuring out common information.

"It allows us to forget trivial information such as 'that actress in 'Titanic'' because we can find it out in a heartbeat," Solomon says. "But it also lets us be smarter because you can learn everything -- from how to change a tire to how to survive a job interview -- immediately."

I will admit that I am a frequent Googler. I personally don't think that it's because I am not knowledgeable. But Google lets us consume infinite amounts of information. In an article that asserts that Google makes us smarter, it explained that by 2020, humans will be more intelligent by using the World Wide Web and Google, since we will have unlimited access to information.

There is a part of me that would love to believe that article. But by 2020, I will be 28 years old, hopefully engulfed in a full-time career with a young family, and viewed by others as an intelligent woman. Will I still be constantly turning to Google?

As much as people may have odd Google searches, Google can be helpful with anything. Nevertheless, it has created an easy way out for people. We don't have to remember as much because with a click on our computer or smart phone, the answers will magically appear.

Kourtney Kunichika, a motion-picture science major at RIT, said Google can definitely make us smarter, and is a necessary tool for college students.

"As much as we may not pay as much attention in class because of the Web, we can do extra research outside of class," Kunichika says. "I can find anything I need on Google, especially when it comes to difficult school work."

At this point, I am a firm believer in Google. I will admit, though, that I am nervous as to how this generation's intelligence will be perceived.

But I do know "that girl in 'Titanic'" is Kate Winslet. Did you have to Google that?

College Blog: What happens after the Freshman 15?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 4:00 AM

A lot of exercising? If only the answer was that simple. As a college student, it's extremely difficult to find time to work out. Mix that with a plethora of unhealthy food options available and even my tiniest of friends found themselves "heavier" at the end of their freshman year. The problem? Healthy eating on the RIT campus is a real challenge and maintaining your weight doesn't necessarily get easier as you leave your first year behind.

Take it from someone who knows. At the beginning of my first year, I was a size zero. While I definitely could have afforded to gain a few pounds, the weight definitely didn't come in the way that I would have liked.

Instead, stress eating, the lack of time I had to exercise, and a few too many late night orders to Zonies really caught up with me. Let's just say by the end of my freshman year, most of my clothes were being shipped off to Plato's Closet and I was begging my mom to take me on a shopping trip.

To top it off, I wasn't even living on campus. I didn't have to adjust to being out of the house and in an unfamiliar place, or adapt to only eating what my meal planallowed. According to psychotherapist Staci Herrick, those changes can usually be blamed for increased eating.

"Many students seek comfort in food to quell the increased academic pressure, feelings of homesickness, and challenge of securing new friendships/romantic relationships," says Herrick.

For junior Sarah Bono of Geneseo, her freshman meal plan was ultimately her demise.

"When the wokery is always there, and it's not something you are used to eating every day, it becomes new and exciting," says Bono.

But then it becomes habit, she says.

While she did acknowledge that Gracie's, RIT's freshman dining hall, does offer healthy food options, she said that by mid-year she was addicted to eating pizza and fried foods.

"Eventually you get lazy and it's a never-ending cycle of eating these unhealthy foods," says Bono.

Now that I'm in my third year, I'd like to think I've found some sort of balance between college life, healthy eating, and working out. I've found that packing snacks, and meals when necessary, the night before classes helps a lot. I kind of feel like I'm back in high school, but at least I've found use for my Vera Bradley lunch box again.

I've learned that if I don't work out in the morning, it's probably not going to happen -- unless I have a wellness class scheduled for later that day. Luckily, RIT requires you to take two wellness classes before you graduate. Think gym class, but you get to pick what you want to do.

I've become addicted to spinningand now sign up for it every quarter. If I don't have any time to work out throughout the week, at least I know I'll get some sort of physical activity through my spinning class.

RIT students also have free access to the gym and students can often be seen running the three-mile loop that wraps around campus. There's definitely not a lack of resources to maintain a healthy weight. It's the time that doesn't exist.

The "Freshman 15" could easily be renamed the "Declaration of Independence," says Herrick, explaining that this is the first time many freshman are in charge of their own lives and daily decisions.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

College Blog: The textbook tango

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 2:46 PM

It’s not a secret that college textbooks are overpriced. Used, new or rented, the total cost of textbooks that any given student needs for a single quarter (or semester) can range anywhere from $100 to over $1,000.

“Fall quarter, I spent around $1,000 on textbooks,” second year RIT Biomedical Sciences major Leah Pirela said. “I only got about four or five books, too.”

Pirela isn’t the only student at RIT who has had to spend an inordinate amount of money solely on textbooks. Nilan Lovelace, a third year Psychology major, has also gone home with a rather large hole in his wallet after buying his textbooks.

“If I buy them from Amazon, it’s about $300,” Lovelace said. “But if I buy them from Barnes & Noble, it’s about $600.”

With new editions of textbooks coming out nearly every year, it’s no surprise that the average student will spend at least $1,100 on textbooks for the school year. It doesn’t help that by the time students sell back their books, there always seems to be a new edition of the textbook out and they get a few measly bucks at best.

During my time at RIT, I haven’t had to spend too much on books. Granted, that may be mostly because I always hustle some Barnes & Noble gift cards out of family members every summer before I head back to school. But even after using the gift cards, I still pay a couple hundred bucks on three or four books every quarter.

I have a job on campus, and I worked all summer, but I’m still very much a living-paycheck-to-paycheck student – especially since I really don’t make much money. Between the cost of living, sorority dues and school supplies, there really isn’t much left to buy the textbooks I need for class.

Actually, I still haven’t bought the books I need for classes this quarter (We’re now in the seventh week of the quarter at RIT). There are only two books that I need, and they’re not too expensive to rent, but I just can’t afford them right now. I’ve never had to use my textbooks more than a couple times each quarter, so I haven’t worried too much if I couldn’t buy a book for a class.

Bad news is this: it turns out this is the only quarter when I actually need my textbooks. Guess that means I’ll just be spending some more time in the library for the next few weeks until the quarter ends.

Coping with the homesick blues

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Before I left for RIT I remember telling my Mom that I would never get homesick. I thought I would probably come home once during the 10-week quarter, if at all. It wasn’t that I wanted to get away from my parents. I simply was excited to be on my own and make a lot of new friends.

But now that I'm in my third quarter here I would love nothing more than to be at home with my family. I like all of my classes but I spend a lot of my time alone in my apartment doing homework or other types of work. I miss being able to hang out and spend time with family.

There is never a particular time when I start to feel homesick, it just happens every few days. I’ve tried to follow some of the suggestions I’ve found online to combat feeling homesick. I’ve gotten out of my room. I’ve moped and let myself be sad for a while. I’ve tried to not think about it. But the thing I’ve found most beneficial is reminding myself that I’m surely not the only college student who’s missing home.

Lauren Reimondo is a freshman game design and development student. She said she often feels the most homesick right after a school break has ended. “I am a little sad for the first couple days after break but then I get back into the routine,” Reimondo said. “I just kind of focus on work.”

My sister, Jessica Bellardo, follows this same method of staying busy when she starts to miss home.“Usually I’ll try to find an activity to do, whether it be working out, going to the movies, going shopping or something like that,” Bellardo said.

For me, the first thing I want to do when I start to miss home is call my parents or friends. And while this helps me feel better for a few minutes it also makes me miss home even more.

This is probably the hardest advice I could try to follow. While it may be tough not to contact my family the second I start feeling homesick, if it works for others then maybe it will work for me. Reimondo agreed: She said that when she is feeling homesick she tries to avoid calling her parents. She thinks it will just make her homesickness worse.

That doesn’t mean things are easy on the parent side of things either, though. As parents of children suffering from homesickness there are many tips out there for how you can help. You can reassure your child, suggest ways they can get more involved on campus and let them know that you are there for them.

My mom’s best advice for parents would be to “send a care package of things that are their comforts from home.” Not only will this ease your worrying, parents, but your kids will love it (I know I love getting these in the mail!).

So for now I guess I’ll just try to use the methods of my peers. I’ll stay busy, distract myself and keep my fingers crossed that with time my homesickness will fade.

College Blog: Where's my box of chocolates?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 2:32 PM

My job search is not like a box of chocolates – unlike my boyfriend’s. He’s actually been courted and wooed by his future Fortune 100 employer, so much that they actually sent him a box of chocolates. Godiva Truffles, to be exact.

  • Yasmeen Smalley

Not that I’m bitter.

As a senior in college, the real world is looming closer and closer. The dichotomy between job searching for artistic-versus-technical professions seems larger with every unanswered email.

I'm also a photographer, so my job hunt involves less full-time jobs than you might think. Instead, I find myself researching internships, applying for scholarships and study abroad opportunities: anything to stave off the “real world” and to delay student loans. This tactic is common, especially for those trying to break into the professional world.

Michelle Girard, a 2008 Rochester Institute of Technology graduate of the Advertising Photography program, began looking for internships and jobs after graduation. “I looked on numerous job search engines daily for job postings. I learned how to sift through the jobs on Craigslist,” Girard said.

After a short stint as an advertising photography intern for Coach in New York City, Girard found herself “back to sending out tons of resumes” after a second round of layoffs. Although Girard found work photographing for J. Crew, the “week to week commitment and lack of traditional job stability” led her to move home to Western Massachusetts and start her own wedding photography business, which is going strong now after several years.

While Girard’s experiences ring true for many graduates involved in the arts, it’s a stark difference from those entering the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Michael Norman (the aforementioned chocolate beneficiary), an Information Technology senior at RIT, didn’t have to look very far during his job hunt.

“During my last internship I worked for Liberty Mutual. They knew that I was a rising senior, so they wooed me by taking me out to dinner, including me in company celebrations like going out to a brewery and dinners,” said Norman. “They also took all their employees in the region to Fenway Park to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary.”

While Norman may be the exception and not the rule, his position illustrates a huge disparity between how students of different fields are introduced to the job market.

RIT famously touts its semi-annual career fair, which boasts hundreds of employers. During my junior year I decided to test the waters, to see how many potential employers were looking for photographers. To my dismay, not one pamphlet-wielding employer expressed any interest in my skills.

To avoid sounding as bitter as the chocolate I covet, it must be said that artistic professions can be rewarding in different ways. Forbes’ “Top 10 Happiest Jobs” lists artists as number seven in the ranking of happiest jobs, “despite the great difficulty in making a living.”

Bottom line? Money can’t buy happiness. (But it can buy chocolate).

Friday, January 18, 2013

No time for relationships

At least not in the present

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 10:18 AM

It seems almost impossible to maintain a healthy balance between college work and everything else.

When I started college three years ago, I had a lot of expectations. I had expectations that I’d spend more time having fun and going to parties than doing schoolwork. I had expectations that I’d fall in love and meet my husband.

I now realize these expectations were unrealistic.

I have found that many relationships in my life have suffered because of my heavy workload at RIT. Whether it’s a friendship, a relationship with a family member, or a romance – I can’t seem to juggle, let alone nurture, these relationships and my schoolwork.

I found out I wasn’t alone in this situation when a friend in my major opened up to me over Christmas break and told me his girlfriend of five and a half years was leaving him and moving out of their apartment.

“I think a large part of it was due to the fact that I had immersed myself in school,” said Matt Burkhartt, a third-year photojournalism major at RIT. “At the end of the day, I had so little left to give because of how emotionally draining the program … is.”

Burkhartt said now that he is single he will have a lot more time to dedicate to school.

“I can be at my apartment by myself and work without worrying about whether or not I’m neglecting my girlfriend while she’s home,” Burkhartt said. “But if you want them both to exist simultaneously it takes a lot of concentration and a lot of dedication. I think going forward I need to strategize somehow and make both of those parts of my life work together.”

I was also surprised and impressed to find out a different classmate recently got married. Carol Kline’s husband is an Army ranger stationed in Seattle.

“I see him twice a year for two weeks,” said Kline.

Although she doesn’t have to choose between schoolwork and spending time with her husband, Kline still has some difficult decisions to make.

“There’s definitely times when he’ll be deployed and he’s calling me and I’m in the middle of a really important critique or lecture or something,” said Kline. “I’m sitting there looking at my phone like ‘Ugh, I’d really love to answer my phone because I know I can’t call you back – you’re deployed.’ But my school’s really important to me.”

Personally, I’m still not sure how to find that healthy medium between time spent on schoolwork and time spent on relationships. I only have a few months left of school until graduation and I am doing what I think is right: immersing myself in my work.

We’ll see if my personal relationships can hang on for the rest of the ride.

To live or not to live … in the dorms

It's at least one of the college questions

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 10:12 AM

This is a question that crosses the mind of every college freshman. For students who have grown up in the Rochester area and have decided to attend RIT, the answer is slightly more complicated. Local students can easily decide to stay home and “save money,” or venture off into the unknown world that is dorm life.

RIT is the only college I applied to. My mother works at the school and it’s always been my fate. But I knew before being accepted that I wasn’t going to live in the dorms. Looking back, money and being a tad bit introverted kept me from choosing otherwise.

My little sister on the other hand, who is currently at freshman at RIT, couldn’t get out of our house fast enough.

“I wanted to have some independence and get away from my parents,” said my sister, Jessica Clark.

Although they didn’t have to pay for our tuition, paying for the dorms out-of-pocket wasn’t an option for my parents. So my sister took out a loan. And since she doesn’t have a hidden trust fund, my sister will eventually have to pay back every cent she is borrowing.

“It doesn’t seem real that I have to pay for it until I actually graduate,” she explained.

The idea of graduating debt free was very appealing to me. Why would I bother taking out a loan for housing when I could just live at home? Although I’ve never been particularly good with money, I knew I didn’t have much. The thought of spending over six thousand dollars to move 10 minutes down the road, didn’t add up. I considered this a mature decision - because hello! - that’s really expensive.

Elliott Schulz, a 2011 RIT graduate from Canandaigua, agreed with me. Since he had to pay for school on his own, being able to live at home during college was a significant way for him to save money.

“I was trying to cut costs wherever I could,” said Schulz, whose house is located about 30 miles from campus.

“It was cheaper, believe it or not, to buy gas to drive to campus than it was to pay for housing,” he said.

Chris Cahill, a fellow Rush-Henrietta resident, took sides with my sister. Although his house is located less than five miles from campus, he couldn’t have imagined living anywhere other than the seventh floor of the Gleason dorm his freshman year. Why? He also wanted some independence.

“I got to talk and see my parents when I wanted to,” said Cahill. Once in the dorms, Cahill said he didn’t feel like he needed to contact his family everyday.

However after graduating in May, Cahill will face about a $12,000 student loan. Knowing this information, I asked him if he’d change his mind if he could. His answer was immediate.

“No,” said Cahill. “Because the friends I’ve made are life-long and you can’t put a price on life-long friends.”

So did I miss out? Am I a 21-year-old friendless loser because I didn’t live in the dorms my first year of college? I’m in my third year now … have I survived?

My answer is yes. I think I made out just fine by living at home. I still made friends that I know will stay in my life forever and I’ve never had to experience what it’s like to wear flip-flops in the shower. I get to eat home-cooked meals everyday and sleep in my own bed.

Oh, and the best part? When I graduate, no student loans for housing will be knocking on my door. My advice is to take advantage of where you live if it’s close to your chosen college. It will pay off, or pay itself off, whatever works for you.

Friday, January 4, 2013

College Blog: Deaf in Rochester

For one deaf student, traversing Rochester has its benefits and drawbacks

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 2:35 PM

The College Blog is a partnership between City Newspaper and Rochester Institute of Technology Assistant Professor Dr. Hinda Mandell. Each week City will post blog posts from several of Mandell's journalism students, who will write about what concerns Rochester-area college students, both on and off campus.

"When my hearing friends want to go out somewhere that I haven't heard of, I get wary about going," said Bonnie Greenberg, a 25-year-old communications student at RIT. "I'm not sure how I'll be accepted in places where hearing is [expected]."

Like many students at RIT, Greenberg is a member of the deaf community. As of 2012, there are a total of 1,529 RIT students enrolled in the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. For these students, leaving RIT's campus and entering the world of downtown Rochester can be a very difficult transition. But to Greenberg's surprise, some Rochesterians are quite receptive.

Greenberg said she visits downtown Rochester about once a week.

"In my opinion, most places in Rochester do accommodate the deaf community in more ways than, say, the places at home," said Greenberg, who is originally from New Jersey. "And they're less likely to look at you like you have an extra head if you tell them you can't hear."

Greenberg named Tilt Nightclub and Pearl Nightclub as two venues where employees used sign language to communicate with her. She added that employees at IHOP on Jefferson Road in Henrietta always give her paper so she can write down her food order. And then there's a shoe store in Marketplace Mall where a particular employee regularly signs to Greenberg and volunteers to help her when she walks in.

"Apparently, I shop there a lot," Greenberg said. 

While this student has her favorite places to socialize, shop and eat, Greenberg said she rarely tries new clubs and restaurants in Rochester, since she's scared of being looked at "like a crazy person."

Greenberg recalled a recent night out with her friends at a club near East and Alexander.

The club "made me feel awkward. One of the bouncers looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to go to a nightclub when I can't actually hear the music," she said.

Greenberg said she'd spend more time downtown if she felt that more places could accommodate her needs. Though she is quite satisfied with the few places she frequents.

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College Blog: Welcome to the (very scary) real world

The terrifying realities of finding a job, and paying for school

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 2:09 PM

The College Blog is a partnership between City Newspaper and Rochester Institute of Technology Assistant Professor Dr. Hinda Mandell. Each week City will post blog posts from several of Mandell's journalism students, who will write about what concerns Rochester-area college students, both on and off campus.

Over the course of the next six months, a number of students will be leaving the comforts of college and heading into the working world.

Some will go straight to the job they have lined up in some big city somewhere. Others will be moving back in with their parents and trying to figure out their next move. Whichever path they take, students will all be facing the same dilemma: Learning to live in the real world.

"At college, you're on your own and you can do what you want," Renee Noel, a fourth-year graphic design student at RIT. "However, you still have your parents to reach out to and get help if you need it."

Noel plans to finish her coursework in February and walk at graduation in May. With a recent job offer designing for Story Worldwide in New York City, Noel doesn't have to worry about the gruesome job hunt that many other students will soon have to face.

"I think it is hard [for students to get a job], but the more students try the easier it is," said Jenna Deutsch, another RIT student.

Deutsch will be working as a Junior Interactive Program Manager at SapientNitro in Boston after she graduates in May with her Bachelors in Communications. Deutsch and Noel may be on the right track for their future, but career woes still hover like a dark cloud over the heads of many a college student.

And I include myself within this group of college-age kids with an uncertain future.

At the end of winter quarter - this February - I will be leaving school and moving back home for good. Even though I'm only a sophomore in college.

The decision to leave college, at least for the time being, is all mine. As you know, college is breathtakingly expensive. And I also reached a point that perhaps my university is not the best fit for me.  Ultimately, I came to a place where I realized that college just isn't my bag. I can't learn everything that I want to learn sitting in a classroom. I learn so much better when I can actually dig my hands in and get to work.

But still, the thought of trying to make it in the real world once I get back to my native state of Washington terrifies me.

As a journalist and photographer, I know how competitive the industry is. And as optimistic about my future as I may be, I still have to think realistically. If I want to get a job doing what I love to do, I will have to work extremely hard to do it. Especially without a college degree.

Lately, I've already been trying to engage in lots of networking. I've sent out my resume to even the smallest of small newspapers. I've even followed as many journalists and photographers as I can on Twitter in hopes that they'll follow me back and check out my work.

This industry is about as competitive as it gets, but I am nowhere near ready to give up on it.

Maybe I'll just take advice of Deutsch, an RIT student graduating in May.

"Aim high. You could end up at your dream job," said Deutsch.

Here's to hoping.

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