Top Hat

GM discusses off-campus, academic advice

Look within RPI and wider community for opportunities, prepare for upcoming career fair

Hello RPI. This week, the Student Senate had the pleasure of hosting Erin Pihlaja, executive director of the Troy Business Improvement District, and Cary Dresher, associate dean of the off campus commons. Both Pihlaja and Dresher were friendly speakers, and learning about all the opportunities that exist really spoke to the level of growth our community has seen, and how great a weekend destination Troy can be for Rensselaer students.

In my three years here, I’ve seen businesses open and grow, and new opportunities and events take hold that give students so many great opportunities to experience Troy and the surrounding Capital District. September 15–September 21 marks the second-ever Troy Restaurant Week, with numerous local restaurants offering amazing deals. If you have yet to experience Troy dining, or want to explore new tastes, this is the week to stop by and see what the city has to offer.

Beyond these events, there are still many opportunities to experience the Capital Region. The last Friday of every month marks Troy Night Out! This month’s TNO will be college night for RPI students—with the RPI shuttles running every hour to bring you to and from campus as needed. Additionally, CDTA busses offer free ridership to RPI students, and can give you quick transport to Crossgates Mall or downtown Albany.

Of course, amidst all these opportunities, remember to prioritize your academics. This is the part of the semester where we’ll really feel our workload—so remember to stay balanced and give yourself some time to breathe. Keep your stress levels low as you begin to take on assignments, quizzes, and exams. Your first wave of tests may seem intimidating, but with proper preparation, you’ll be able to tackle them readily, and even with confidence.

Don’t hesitate to form study groups with friends of your discipline when it’s allowed. Everyone comes here with a different set of personalities and natural aptitudes—you’ll very often find that they’ve already worked through some of your toughest problems. And with the commonality found in your subject area and mutual experience in your class, you’ll even have something to bond over. Sophomore year, my friends and I formed an Intro to Algorithms study group. Our collective effort and late nights studying, grappling for control over the radio, and creating our study-guide is still an occasional topic of conversation—and all of us have stayed in touch since.

And of course, office hours are an ever reliable source of support and advice—you’ll often find that concepts you had trouble picking up on during lecture will come easily to you in a one on one situation. Knowing your professors is also a gateway to future opportunities—they may offer you research positions if you’re interested in their field and if they’re impressed with your diligence and willingness to learn. Professors will also serve as excellent references when you begin to seek out career opportunities.

On that note, I also wanted to take a moment to remind everyone to sign up for the upcoming National Society of Black Engineers and Society of Hispanic Engineers Career Fair. As you may have heard, the career fair this fall will take place on September 26 and 27. While I know this is more than two weeks out, now is the time to begin to think about your career search—be it for a summer internship, a semester co-op, or like myself, the daunting quest for a full-time offer. Start to work on your resume—update your listings with any relevant info, contact any professors or previous employers who may serve as your references. Also remember to keep an eye out for any early opportunities to meet recruiting teams—many companies have already begun touring campuses and holding info sessions. These sessions are often a great gateway to the interview process.

If you have any questions about career opportunities, academics, or the City of Troy, you may contact me as always at; or visit me at my open office hours, every Wednesday from noon—3 pm!