Internships and The Real World

Before this year, I never thought about what I wanted to do after I finished school. I knew I wanted to do computer science, but I had no idea what type of job I wanted to have. So, naturally, I went to the Rice career fair that we have every semester. It was my first time, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. To my pleasant surprise, there were over a hundred companies, and they really wanted Rice students to work for them. There were a few representatives from every company who you could talk to and hand your resume to.

I had about ten interviews as a result of the career fair, all conveniently on the Rice campus! I decided that I will intern at a small startup company this summer to contrast my last summer at Microsoft. Hopefully, the two contrasting experiences will give me a better idea of what I want to do when I graduate. It is great that Rice gives me the resources to try out both types of companies before I graduate, so that I can make an informed decision when that time comes!

Most of you are probably not thinking about jobs or internships yet – you’re still dealing with the college admission process! But it should be relieving to know that once you need to deal with finding a job, Rice provides you with many great opportunities.

My Summer Plans

I will spend my summer in Seattle working with Microsoft Research!

Earlier this year, as I was applying to many internships / summer programs, I asked the professor who I have been doing research with this year for a recommendation letter. He said he would be fine with writing me a recommendation letter, but he also gave me a counter-offer which I could not refuse: collaborate with him at Microsoft Research in Seattle, Washington this summer for about 3 months. I would be fully paid to live there and travel, plus make a little extra to enjoy and explore Seattle. I of course accepted! How could I not? I will be getting research experience, connections with Microsoft, money, and an amazing time in Seattle (which is apparently a very fun town and beautiful in the summer).

Before coming to Rice, I never knew how many opportunities there would be for freshmen. Furthermore, I did not realize how easy it would be to access all of these amazing opportunities. I am honestly surprised at how great Rice and its professors have been to me. They really do care about undergraduates and want us to succeed. Rice students are really lucky to have all the opportunities that are presented to them. All of my friends are doing something really cool this summer as a result of attending Rice.

“Work Hard, Play Hard”

Hanging out at Baker's College Night.

Rice is definitely not an easy school, academically speaking. Classes are difficult and students are intelligent. And yet, despite the intense majors that many Rice students decide to pursue, they all seem to have a great deal of fun. Enough fun to where we are ranked number one for quality of life and happiest students. These rankings are by no means an overstatement.

Relaxing during Rice's KTRU Outdoor Show.

Rice has a great deal of fun “study breaks” and events to ensure that any student who wants to have a good time will always have the ability to do so. This can happen at the residential college level. For example, each residential college will have a “college night” every semester, which are themed (just like each college has a different theme for Beer Bike and O-Week). College nights typically start on a Friday morning and last throughout the day. They are basically an excuse for everyone in the college to take a break and have a great time. Colleges will rent water slides and blast music on the speakers to create a fun party environment. Of course, you don’t have to participate in events such as these, but they are there for those who would like a break from their intense academic workload.

There are also many fun university-wide events, the most popular of which being Beer Bike (which has/will be covered plenty in these blogs). An example of the most recent fun university-wide event was the KTRU outdoor show last Saturday. It was essentially a mini-music festival hosted here at Rice, with many bands playing. The weather was amazing and the environment was perfect. It sort of seemed like an Austin music festival, except located at Rice (it was the best of both worlds in a way). We have fun events like this all the time.

I have never had a boring weekend at Rice, and I absolutely love that. If any of you have any questions about the types of fun events Rice sponsors, feel free to email me!

Fun In Houston

Eating out at a Houston restaurant.

Rice creates a really fun environment for students to live in. Some students rarely leave campus, as there is always so much to do. But on the weekends, there are many fun things to do off campus in the fun and vibrant city of Houston. I have only lived in Houston for about eight months now, so I will by no means be able to give anything close to an exhaustive list of the fun things to do in Houston. I will nonetheless give a summary of my off-campus experiences.

At a concert at Stereo Live, a club about 10 minutes away from Rice.

There are many fun places to eat near campus. Houston, being such a large city, will have just about any variety of food you can imagine, but some of my favorites are Torchy’s Tacos and Amy’s Ice Cream, which both happen to be Austin places that have a location near Rice. (I am from Austin so I enjoy this). The Rice Village also has many fun places to eat, which is convenient given that you can find many great restaurants in a ten minute walk from campus.

Aside from food, Houston has many fun clubs and venues that are not located too far from campus. I know a group of people who go two-stepping almost every weekend. There are also some fun electronic music dance clubs not too far from campus, which I enjoy going to.

There are a few places near campus that every Rice student has gone to. For example, there is a Target about 5 minutes away from Rice where everybody goes to get all their school supplies, bedroom items, party items, snacks, and other things of the sort.

An aspect that I really love about Rice is that you will get all the advantages of going to a relatively small school while having access to the fourth largest city in America. It really creates an amazing college experience.

Jobs at Rice

Rice Coffee House!

Many prospective students have emailed me asking about job opportunities at Rice. Rice offers a wide array of fun opportunities to make some extra cash.

One common on-campus job is to work for one of the many student organizations on campus. These include, but are not limited to, working for Willy’s Pub, The Hoot, or at Coffee House. There are previous posts about these places, but all three are essentially fun places where you can get food when the dining halls are not open and just hang out. I have friends who work at all three of these places, and they all love the experience. Working at a place like Pub or Coffee House is a great way to be a part of a fun little community, while getting paid for it. Rice students often look forward to working their shifts at these fun little student organizations.

My to-do list for the day.

The other common way to make money on-campus is to work for an academic department. There are many ways to do this. One way, for example, would be to work as a teaching assistant (TA) for a class that you have previously taken. While it is rare that a freshmen will be a TA, many of my engineering classes have around ten undergraduate TAs who are paid at an hourly rate to not just grade assignments, but assist in the labs and tutor students. Another way is to become a research assistant for a professor (this is what I do). I have a earlier post on this, but this is basically a fun way to further your knowledge in your field by doing fun cutting-edge work with your professor and getting paid for it!

I am sure there are many other ways to get money on campus that I have not listed, but I have explained the most common options. If you have any questions, as usual, feel free to email me!


Rice’s Electronic Services

Happy new year! Congratulations to everyone who has been admitted into Rice for Early Decision. I hope you all have a great semester. I have a lot of exciting things planned for this semester, and I can’t wait to share them with you as they happen. But today, I want to take some time to appreciate a simple aspect of Rice: the virtual Rice community.

To start off: Rice email. Most colleges will give you an email address ( Rice’s email system, however, provides students a great way to communicate about many opportunities. Looking at the first page of my Rice email inbox, I see multiple emails from professors giving announcements for their classes, a few emails from the Baker RAs which advertise fun Baker-wide activities (such as the Baker BBQ), and emails advertising Rice-wide activities such as the Summer Research Fair (more on that later). It is cool to be able to get emails from your professors, college masters, student club leaders, and regular students. The Rice webmail system is essentially a convenient way to learn about a lot of fun opportunities.

Next, there is Esther. To all of you high school seniors who have applied to Rice, you should be familiar with Esther. After you get admitted to Rice, Esther provides a convenient way to deal with course registration. Things that traditionally require numerous signed forms and trips to various offices can be accomplished completely on your own without the approval of any administrator, such as registering/dropping classes and paying bills. Another cool thing about Esther is that it allows you to read course evaluations written by every student who took any given Rice course in the past. This allows you to read comments about a class before you sign up for it, which has been very convenient for me throughout my academic career at Rice.

Finally, there is OwlSpace. Every course that you take at Rice will have a page on OwlSpace. OwlSpace allows you to see your grades on assignments and tests, do your homework online (I prefer getting and submitting assignments online, as it is faster and more secure), and chat with other people in the class.

– PW