With a dedication to all RIT graduates: Goodbye Rochester…

Yes, this is going to be one of those sentimental posts, so grab a tissue and stay with me. To many of us, Friday or Saturday represents an important milestone in our lives, an end of a chapter, and the beginning of a new one. I find myself to be ambivalent, as on one hand I am very excited and on the other terrified. There have been good, bad, ugly and amazing days during my education at RIT and regardless of the occasional downfalls that occurred I wouldn’t even change a bit of it.

Many of you and I are going to proudly walk that stage this week, and I do not know about you, but I am going to feel relief and accomplishment, and most importantly freedom, one of the most beneficial aspects of that degree in our hands. I am not saying that this freedom should be used carelessly (except the night after graduation, then you should enjoy yourself completely, as a matter of fact you deserve it). By earning your degree you destroyed barriers that previously might have prevented you from accomplishing something great. Go and travel the world, open your own company, learn how to sail a boat, do what makes you happy and what you always wanted to do. Now is the time to find that calling from which you can reap happiness during your whole employment life.smiling-graduateall-graduates

Don’t be afraid! Resilience is something we are all born with, some of us have more of it, and some less, but nevertheless it can be learned. You may recall numerous times in your education when you thought to yourself I can’t do this, this is too much, or when you thought bad times would never pass by, but you did it and those times are behind you. Your resilience, willpower and strength are exactly what brought you here, and it is vital for you to remember that during your life, wherever you are, you need to be thankful for what you have and appreciate every moment of your being. Those hard moments, which you will certainly face during your lifetime, might actually make you a better person or even the best version of yourself.

What I want you to remember, and this stands for me as well, is that you need to continue working on yourself, whether that is through continued academic education or something else that makes you stand out from the crowd. After you stand on that stage and look at all of those people that have arrived to Rochester to celebrate it with you, I want you to feel thankful. Thankful for what you have been provided with, an experience of a lifetime, a great education, and all of that within the RIT community. Some of the best times of our lives occurred during our time here, and I will always have a nostalgic feeling when thinking of Rochester and RIT.

Furthermore, looking back at my education at RIT, and all of the friendships and accomplishments I have I made, I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a part of it, especially to experience a different culture by studying on this campus as a global scholar, as I loved being here with all of you. Finally, with my final post as a part of the ‘Behind the Bricks’ team I want to congratulate you all on your outstanding accomplishments and I wish you all the luck with your future ventures. Let’s all do something great, make an impact, and be the proudest RIT alumni out there!

A weekend to remember: A trip to NYC & Imagine RIT

Knowing that we are about to face the hardest two weeks of the semester, this past weekend was truly an experience to remember for me. Before the final exams and the real test of our theoretical knowledge begins, I had the opportunity to relax for a couple of days, enjoy the weather, and most importantly acquire practical experience. How so? It all began with a trip to an NYC career event, where I other students had a chance to learn how to better approach potential employers and how to actually shine with your elevator speech. On the other hand, my weekend ended completely different note, by volunteering and helping the community, while also soaking in the spirit of innovation that was all around the campus at the Imagine RIT festival.

Several months ago, the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education published an engagement event, offering those who apply and enter as the 40 best candidates, get to go on an all-expenses paid trip to a startup hiring event in New York City. The event, NYC Uncubed, gathered many experts, well-known companies, startups, executives, and students. I was fortunate enough to be selected and travelled with the group last week.

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A company visit to Vimeo on the day before the event

On Thursday, after a 7 hour bus ride from campus to New York, we finally arrived at our hotel in midtown, in a vibrant neighborhood of Chelsea. That night, I met up with my friends for dinner and later caught up with some of my trip companions who were exploring the city. I am grateful I had the chance to meet with some of my friends and have fun, disregarding for at least a couple of hours that the semester is over in two weeks and fun is not a good study motivator.

On Friday, the morning started with panel speakers in either marketing or technology. Depending on our area of interest, we had the chance to listen to interesting presentations from some of the trendiest startups and companies in the industry. My major is marketing and I got a valuable opportunity to participate in the presentations from Architizer, Grindr, Vimeo, BuzzFeed and Fiverr. After the presentations, just as at our Career Fair, the event was comprised of company showcases.

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Morning Panel Speeches

Everyone had a different pass color that marked their years of experience from 0-5+, ranging from operations, technology, sales, and marketing, so it was easy to identify who to talk to about possible job opportunities or just your interests. Having a chance to come and talk to CEOs of some of the companies I would love to work for (and in fact have applied for) presented a huge opportunity for me and I believe for many others that joined me on this trip. I have to say that the event was truly beneficial for those of us entering the job market and the organization was remarkable, both from RIT’s side and from the event’s providers.

On the other hand, Saturday required much less pitching and much more fun. My morning started with volunteering at the Exercise Science exhibit at the Hale-Andrews lobby, where the department organized a rowing competition. As a volunteer, I spent my day helping people get on and off the rower and explaining to them how to do it properly. Thankfully, we were blessed with amazing weather and the response rate of the people coming was incredible. There were so many people at the festival in general and a lot of individuals that wanted to participate in the competition. Most importantly, you would be surprised how many of the little ones and kiddos wanted to race their parents, siblings and friends, making it a fun exhibition.

The Exercise Science rowing competition
The Exercise Science rowing competition exhibition

As I am a global scholar, after spending some time wandering around, seeing different exhibitions, and relaxing in the sun on the lawn at Kodak quad, I headed toward Global Village, where I exhibited the Global Studies Program at RIT along with my fellow Croatians and students from other global campuses. I must say, after seeing all those s’mores machines, racing cars and robots, our exhibition was far from being the most innovative, but we had a different approach and a cultural aspect to it. We presented our homes by having a karaoke setup with songs from our nations, we had a picture booth where you could take a picture with a board saying where you dream of going to, and we had a quiz where you could find out your knowledge about different countries of the world.

Relaxing after my 1st round of volunteering at Imagine RIT
Relaxing after my 1st round of volunteering at Imagine RIT
#IDreamOfGoingTo Photo Booth
#IDreamOfGoingTo Photo Booth

The event was a blast, and I hope you had a chance to enjoy the day seeing other people’s efforts and work. After having the chance to spend the weekend at Imagine RIT, plus travelling to NYC with some of my friends for a fun and productive two day trip, it’s time to get back to the real world. I wish you all a happy last week of classes, and remember, there are just two more weeks to go and the real fun begins. Stay strong and hustle through!

My first time experiencing the future at Imagine RIT

After realizing the Imagine RIT Festival that is just a few days away, starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday, May 7, I started to reminisce about my first Imagine Festival. Even though I have been studying at the RIT campus in Croatia for my first three years and I only arrived to Rochester in January this year as an official student, I had a chance to participate in the 2014 event as a visitor and exhibitor. Unfortunately, I missed last year’s exhibit, but I am excited to contribute to the festival again this year.

old imagine poster

Every year, the Croatian campuses in Zagreb and Dubrovnik send one freshman student from every major to their academic accomplishments. I had the opportunity to fly with two other students to Rochester and stay at the RIT Inn to experience American culture, the city of Rochester, and most importantly the highlight of the week, the RIT Imagine Festival. Back in Croatia we had brainstorming meetings with the goal of creating a well-presented exhibition to properly illustrate our global campus in Croatia, its characteristics, the European culture and the possibility studying there offers.

Once we arrived, we didn’t know what to expect. We wondered how the festival was going to look, what was actually in all of those buildings that seemed so complicated and looked the same, and how we were going to find our way around. After exhibiting for a couple of hours and sharing our experiences with visitors, we went and actually walked around the campus to see all the technological innovations other students have been working on the whole semester or maybe even longer.

Nevenka pic

Again, being swamped by all those exhibitions really seemed like a lot to absorb. It was impossible to grasp completely because we didn’t even know which building was which. Now that I have been studying here for a while and I know my way around better, finding my way around will be much easier and a lot more specific. This year I will be volunteering for the exercise science exhibit in the morning at the Field House and for the in the afternoon. Being able to have this kind of perspective will certainly provide me with a different perspective.

Now, I can’t wait to see what kind of an experience of the freshman from the Croatian campuses have this year.. I have been participating in the brainstorming sessions for the Global Programs exhibit again, but for our main Rochester campus, and that will be a completely different exhibit as the Kosovo and Dubai campuses are working together with us Croatians that came here as exchange students. I would love to reveal to you with the interesting things we have prepared for you on Saturday, but I have to leave you in suspense. I can’t wait for the day to come to share our work and to have an opportunity to see other people’s accomplishments, and I hope many of you feel the same and will come Saturday to share the spirit!

current poster

7 reasons why I am grateful for studying at RIT

With my time as an undergraduate student quickly coming to an end, I started to think back on my experiences as a foreigner studying abroad. I have experienced two very different education systems, which gives me a unique perspective of the kind of an education RIT and other American universities provide to their students.

The educational system in Croatia is unlike here, as our curriculum is set by the Bologna Process, which is the European agreement that sets the same high standards throughout every country in Europe. The European system is completely different— the semesters last through the middle of July, there are only large cumulative exams at the end of each semester, and also oral exams are mandatory, which comes as a shock to many.

Despite these differences, RIT aspires to provide the same education to students worldwide, opening campuses in Croatia, Kosovo and Dubai, with the newest one in China. RIT has managed to incorporate its culture perfectly into other nations, as it has realized that there is a need for quality education and simplified organized manner of providing the same, enabling students to have access to the means that will secure them a globally accepted degree. Yes, the whole approach has been modified a little as at the end they are establishing their presence in another country with different laws and customs, but the core vision stays the same.

For example, the Croatian campus is very career-focused when it comes to classes and majors, covering only International Business, IT and Hospitality majors. The primary reason for that is that there is a demand for those kind of professions when compared to others. The classes and professors follow the same curriculum and program as our professors here in Rochester do, but the only difference is the perspective from which they teach their subjects, as many of them have a European background and work experience. The quality of education, the curriculum, qualified professors, and the ethnic diversity are some of the reasons why we should appreciate being a part of RIT.

Here are the reasons I think we should be proud to have studied at RIT, whether in Croatia, Rochester or any of the campuses:

1. VARIETY OF CLASSES AND MAJORS

  • Regardless if you want to be an engineer, a photographer, a Wall Street banker, or a biologist, RIT has it all. The number of majors and versatile classes you can take is remarkable, and there is something for everyone. The most important factor is that no matter if you decide to earn a degree in civil engineering or in management, the quality of your education will be the same, as RIT strives to provide its best to every student.

2. TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS

  • Honestly, when I think about it, my view might be a little bit subjective as I have never seen a complex so technologically oriented as ours. But when I think of Imagine RIT, where else have you seen such innovation, technological miracles if I may say, and advancements? That kind of progress is what’s happening everyday on campus, and we’re able to see it on that special day when we should be proud of our fellow colleagues and their accomplishments.

3. EAGERNESS TO PRESERVE NATURE

  • One word, sustainability. From recycled paper, electric hand dryers, water dispensers, our solar panel farm, bike friendly environment, responsible printing, to reducing our carbon footprint, we really do care about the environment. RIT’s newest buildings are LEED certified, the most widely accepted rating system for evaluating sustainable, high-performance buildings.

4. COOPERATIVE EDUCATION

  • Yes, there are moments where you would rather lay on your couch on a hot summer day while the fan is blowing on you and you’re watching your favorite TV show. Instead you find yourself sitting in an office, hustling through those excel spreadsheets or trying to figure out how to execute that task your boss gave you. I know, that really sounds fun. But even though there might be moments when you won’t be as excited to get up and go to work, that cooperative experience you are obliged to do will help you so much later in life when you start applying for full time jobs, and it’s also a great learning experience.

5. GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE & STUDY ABROAD

  • Are there a lot of highly acknowledged American universities that can show off with a global portfolio of campuses as much as RIT? There is a simple answer to the question, no there aren’t. The sole global perspective RIT has is truly remarkable, and can be best experienced when you walk through SAU and see all those flags being hung on the walls. The ability to travel the world, to work and study in different parts of it, especially the ability to study in a different country but at the same university is remarkably advantageous.

6. SUPPORT STRUCTURE

  • When you need help with your classes there are tutors to assist you. If you would like to pursue your interest and found a club, there are means that enable that. If you need help with your diet or assistance with your exercise program, the fitness facilities provide you with qualified experts who can give you advice on that. Moreover, finding an internship or a job, and being connected to your old classmates has been simplified by all the services the Career Office provides.

7. DEAF COMMUNITY

  • The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) is the world’s first and largest technical college for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Having something that devoted in such a small city as Rochester is really worth of admiring. It really shows the devotion to provide the best experience and education to people of all kinds, regardless of their background.

At the end, I hope that I have presented you with at least a glimpse of who we are and for what we stand for. We as students, together with our professors and the administration that keeps it all going, are the ones who make this university the way it is. Let’s strive to make it even better with our sincere contributions, and let’s wear those tiger colors with dignity and pride!

A trip to some of Rochester’s most interesting landmarks

Walking around downtown Rochester a week ago really opened my eyes. I have to admit that I was a little bit skeptical and had a stereotypical view toward the city and its surrounding towns. I thought it was more like a calm family city where not much goes on rather than a cultural mecca filled with activities and fun things to do. When I came here in January in the middle of winter, it didn’t seem like the cold would ever end, and my willingness to explore the city under the snow and bare trees was out of the question.

What has changed? This past weekend I took the initiative to explore the city and decided to visit interesting places and landmarks around the area. My plan was to visit Lake Ontario, the Pittsford Village, the Erie Canal and the George Eastman Museum. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to visit the museum as I decided to spend time on the outside since the weather was amazing. On the other hand, I did go to a little spot in Pittsford to get some ice cream, the best hidden treasure the city has to offer in my opinion. Here’s how it went:

On Saturday, my friend and I went on a little trip to Lake Ontario. As we drove around I got a chance to see the beautiful landscape that surrounds it, the amazing houses by the lake, and the blooming trees and flowers. Coming from Split, a Croatian city on the coast that is surrounded by water, this drive brought back some good memories. The feeling you get from the breeze off the water is truly comforting and makes me think of home. The landscape is unquestionably beautiful, and other people must share my opinion since the area was crowded with youth, families, fisherman and their beloved dogs, with whom they came to enjoy the nature and the nice weather.

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Lake Ontario
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The scenery

After spending time at the lake we headed to Pittsford village where we walked down the Erie Canal, finally deciding to sit down at one of the restaurants, Label 7. It was already a little bit late and the sun was down, even though we wanted to sit on the patio it started to get chilly so we went inside. Yet that did not ruin the overall atmosphere whatsoever. I probably haven’t mentioned this to you already, but I really take my nutrition and diet seriously, which basically means I do not eat anything that is unhealthy or inorganic, and that burger and truffle fries I had for dinner (almost wanted to order another portion because it was so delicious) were certainly not the definition of a healthy meal for me. Every once in a while, I allow myself with a guilty pleasure, and this week I was pretty lean on it since the next day I came back to Pittsford and had ice cream.

The Pittsford village has really impressed me as it is a little world of its own. What I find most interesting is that it seemed like everybody knows each other, creating a positive and warm feeling all-around. With the Erie Canal in the middle and all the funky restaurants and bars surrounding it, it is a go to place. When it comes to the ice cream I keep mentioning, the Pittsford Farms Dairy & Bakery certainly has a spark to it. The only problem is the line that you will have to go through to get that scoop of ice cream, but it is worth the 20 minute wait. I always appreciate it when someone gives me a good recommendation on where to eat and what places to visit, so I am giving you my best advice, try that ice cream!

The line at Pittsford Farms Dairy & Bakery
The line at Pittsford Farms Dairy & Bakery
Other treats that the Dairy & Bakery offers
Other treats that the Dairy & Bakery offers

I am glad that this past week has been able to change my perspective of the city and give me an insight into all the exciting things, activities, places, and nature that one can enjoy while spending time in Rochester. Just as I already mentioned, I truly appreciate every advice given to me on cool places I can visit, so if you have any please feel free to comment!

Internships in the U.S. & abroad

As I look upon this spring semester I realize how fast it all went by. It has been three years since I began my undergraduate studies at RIT Croatia and now I am sitting here and thinking how I have only five more weeks to go before I graduate. If you’re graduating in May as well, I’m sure you can relate to feeling a little bit nervous. I feel like five weeks from now when I receive my degree it will all hit me at once. Moving out from my house downtown, moving to another city, finding a new apartment, and most importantly starting a new job.

Looking back at my time at RIT, it’s clear that co-oping in another country was one of the best experiences in my life. Last summer, I had an amazing opportunity to work for a Croatian marketing agency that took me and my team that worked on their startup project to New York for two months. Being exposed to a different culture, meeting so many new people who have inspired me to push myself even further, has changed me as a person and expanded my horizons. If you are interested in doing a co-op abroad, there are people who can help you. I recently spoke to Maria Richart, who gave me some general advice about looking for co-ops and jobs in a different country. Richart, who is the Assistant Director and Coordinator for the Accounting, Finance and International Business students, works with students who are interested in working abroad on a co-op assignment.

My team and I in our NYC office
My team and I in our NYC office

If you are planning to take that step and work abroad, the job market and the overall business culture are completely different. This is where Mrs. Richart steps in, as she tells me finding a job abroad is a pretty complicated process. Although the Career Office has more than 10 international job providers with which it cooperates, all of that requires a lot of paperwork, and for you to be prepared on time it is advisable to attend the info session taking place in the fall semester. After you have located a job you’d like to apply for, you will be required to write a curriculum vitae. Although they are the same in nature, a curriculum vitae is quite different from a résumé. There is a vast amount of information that you will have to include in your adjusted résumé, such as your date of birth, nationality, driver’s license and a picture. I’ve found that here students shudder at the thought of including a picture on their résumé, yet as a foreigner coming from Europe I know that that you must do so or you will be violating the EOE agreement employers tend to obey.

Although the overall process is the same, consisting of an application with your C.V. and cover letter, getting that potential interview, and at the end filling out all of that paperwork, some things might come as a surprise, as some European employees could ask you to actually send them a cover page of your passport. Not noticing these little differences can slow you down on your path toward securing a valuable internship or a full-time job, and that’s why it is good to start early so you have room to adjust to these differences.

If you are from one of the global campuses looking for jobs in the U.S., it is important to have a good résumé and a corresponding cover letter, yet it is crucial to take the necessary steps that show your employer that you actually are interested in the job. You should have a tactic for following up with employers. After submitting an application, if there is no initial response from the other side you should start thinking of finding that potential contact that can push your foot through the door and help you secure an interview. One method is searching LinkedIn for people who work at that company and preferably finding a person who has something in common with you, city of birth or even better, previous RIT education. Furthermore, Maria showed me that her office has access to a platform that tracks where RIT alumni are currently working to help find connections.

At the end, what I wanted to give rise to is your awareness of how time passes by quickly. I haven’t even turned my head and three years have passed, and most importantly what you do today can improve all your tomorrows. Therefore if you have a desire to work abroad or just to move out from your parent’s house and relocate to another city, the time to think about it is now. For more information on finding international co-ops, visit RIT’s Work Abroad Program page.

Rochester vs. Croatia: how events compare

With the end of the school year approaching, RIT’s events calendar seems to be full of interesting events. Starting from some of the events such as the Service Week beginning April 11, Tora-Con on April 23 and 24, then also the Spring Fest, and the crown of all events the Imagine RIT Festival in May.

Tora-Con 2015
Tora-Con 2015

I am personally most excited about Tora Con as I have never seen nor participated in such an event. To be honest I can’t say that I am a big fan of cosplay but yet I am looking forward to seeing all the effort students and other visitors put in designing and actually creating their costumes. When it comes to the RIT Imagine Festival, even though this is my first semester studying on this campus, I was actually elected on my freshmen year to represent the RIT’s global campus in Croatia as a part of the Global Scholars exhibition, hence I had the opportunity to experience the frenzy around it, and I must say completely justified.

Speaking of Croatia, this probably does not come to your surprise but our events are quite different from the ones here, considering the fact that we are a much smaller campus located in Europe. We share some common characteristics regarding the events, for example we also have a spring barbecue, a Career Education Day, we participate in various volunteering activities, and we organize annual Spring Games. Although there are similarities in the style of events thrown, the look and feel of them vary a lot.

Last year's spring barbecue
Last year’s spring barbecue

The first cultural shock I have experienced was when I received an email saying ”Congratulations on earning dean’s list status this semester.” Of course to many of you this is just an ordinary thing, but the first thing I thought of while reading it was: What? There is no food? What kind of sorcery is this? You see, back home when students earn the status, RIT organizes a fancy dinner (suit and tie kind of an event), where all dean’s list students get together at one of the restaurants in the city. The food at our dean’s list dinners is typically amazing, the kind where you have to ask the waiter what’s on your plate because it looks too pretty to eat.

Last year's dean's list dinner
Last year’s dean’s list dinner

The second major difference is the Career Education Day. The number of companies that come to the event is not even remotely close to the variety we experience here during RIT’s Career Fair, yet the Croatian campus compensates with some other features. The event consists of many speakers who share their stories and educate the students about the industry, and the company representatives that actually come to the event are top officers of some of the most pronounced companies such as Procter & Gamble Co., Coca Cola, Hilton, L’Oréal, etc. One funny fact is, we are all required to come to the event and if we do not do so we lose attendance points for the classes we were supposed to have on that day. Furthermore, business professional attire is a must or you just might be escorted to the door. As our campus is too small to host such an event it is commonly held in a large hotel, usually Sheraton or Hilton, and I have to add this creates a unique experience for students and for all attendants hence many of us look forward to that time of the year.

Career Education Day 2016
Panel of speakers on CED 2016
Career Education Day 2016
Career Education Day 2016

For you to get a better understanding of the overall atmosphere, our events are most easily described as a small family gathering. Everybody knows everyone, professors almost always participate in the events, and even if there are people you have never talked to, one of your friends probably did, so the contacts we have on campus are pretty intimate, therefore creating a supportive community. Moreover, the campus itself is very involved in volunteer work and numerous opportunities are offered to us to help and grow the society by giving back.

Community volunteering in Dubrovnik
Community volunteering in Dubrovnik

In my observation, although in different manners, both RIT campuses have exciting approaches to their events. The Croatian campus is smaller, hence the events thrown are of a more intimate nature, and then again our main campus offers so many versatile events for us to participate in, acting as a hub of diversity. Being able to see the both perspectives has definitely been an amazing opportunity, and being abroad has enabled me to experience many new things and create everlasting memories. Therefore, if any of you are interested in studying abroad in Croatia, feel free to leave a comment below as I will be glade to tell you more about it in detail and help you prepare with your immersion into a new culture.