Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), established in 1824, is the nation’s oldest technological research institute. The university sits on a hill in Troy, New York, overlooking the Hudson River. To know RPI, it’s essential to understand its unique education scheduling called the Arch Year. At the Lally School of Management, rising juniors attend a full academic summer semester, the Arch, between their sophomore and junior years. The school offers a full range of courses with a focus on experiential activities during that time. During the Arch, classes go on field trips, visit local companies, and attend lectures from practicing experts, and take trips to local cultural venues. It is summer, after all.
As juniors, Lally students are given the choice to take the Arch Semester Away in the fall or spring. The only requirement of them is that they pursue their passions, follow a dream, and make a difference. During that semester, students do not pay tuition as they are encouraged to take internships, join co-ops, seek out research opportunities, and experience the world, within and outside of the U.S.
“We are educating the kind of graduates that the world needs…inventive and enterprising problem solvers prepared to address great challenges, and to seize great opportunities,” Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said describing the Arch.
ARCH SEMESTER AWAY GIVES STUDENTS OPPORTUNITY TO LAUNCH BUSINESSES
During the Arch Semester Away, some students choose to launch their own businesses, using the knowledge and experience they have gathered from their two years at Lally. Undergraduate business students can join the NSF Innovation Corps program where they work in teams alongside graduate students, faculty, and staff from capital region colleges and universities. Team projects can be anything ranging from medical devices and mobile applications to social startups, hardware, and wearables. While the program provides the infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training, and modest funding of up to $3,000 to help bring these dreams into the marketplace, students who successfully complete the program can apply to the Team program for an opportunity to win a $50,000 grant.
On top of all the opportunities at Lally School of Management, the school also reports that 60% of job-seeking seniors had found full-time jobs before graduation, with the highest reported salary being $80,000. The average starting salary was $63,568, almost $10,000 more than the NACE 2016 average starting salary, and the average signing bonus was $6,500. All these make Lally School extremely attractive, but acceptance isn’t easy.
In fall 2017, almost 600 students applied to join the four-year undergraduate business program and only 272 were admitted. An education at Lally also doesn’t come cheap. The school estimates that the four-year cost in tuition and university fees comes to about $185,000 and additional expenses for room, board, transportation, and school supplies will likely add up to $62,204. It helps that a high 91% of incoming fall 2017 students received some form of scholarship support from the school but they declined to disclose the average amount.
The school offers business majors in accounting, business analytics, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, management of information systems, and supply chain management, and in the class of 2017, every student participated in a consulting project with an external organization.
ALMOST 100,000 LIVING RPI ALUMS
The school claims among its list of top employers many multinational enterprises such as Deloitte, IBM, Boeing, and Ernst & Young. It is likely that having more than two centuries of history, over 7,500 students, and nearly 100,000 living alumni helps when Rensselaer graduates are out looking for jobs and internships.
The Rensselaer Center for Career & Professional Development not only does cover letter and resume critiques and mock interviews, they also organize career fairs and invite over 100 organizations to conduct on-campus interviews annually.
Students can also choose to join the Rensselaer Co-op program that integrates their studies with technical off-campus work experience. Undergraduate business students work one semester and one summer as part of the program and the co-op helps to pair potential employers and students through their online recruiting system, Joblink.
“After working two different internships early in my college career, I decided to pursue a Co-op with UTC Aerospace Systems for the first semester of my junior year,” said Matthew J. McGivern, who graduated with a bachelor of science in Business and Management. “The five-month time frame, in comparison to eight to ten weeks for an internship, allowed me to work on multiple projects and gain invaluable project management experience. In addition to improving the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired at RPI, I built an extensive network that includes managers, directors, and executives.”
With all the connections that the university and school have, it’s easy to understand how 79% of students in the class of 2016 had at least one business-focused internship before starting their senior year. Among the class of 2017, the number increased to an impressive 89% of students. According to Lally School, 68% of students in the Class of 2017 found full-time employment within three months of graduation with a starting salary of $65,012.
LIFE IN TROY, NEW YORK
At RPI, “why not change the world” is more than just a tagline. Just fifteen minutes away from the business school is the 1,250 acre Rensselaer Technology Park that has over 70 tenants and 2,400 employees. From technology, engineering and science firms, data centers, and service-focused companies, to nonprofit organizations, the place bustles with projects that change the world as we know it.
The Lally School of Management is also home to the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship where students can find mentors, guides, and coaches to help them with bring their startup ideas to life.
Under the Rensselaer Entrepreneurship Intern Program (REIP), students engage in paid ten to 14-week internships with selected student startup teams to gain experience in dealing with the challenges of a young business. In return, these student startups get assistance from the students with their complementary skills. Spring semester participants are paid by the hour while students who join the summer program earn $3,500 over ten weeks.
Choosing Lally School of Management means living in a city that’s long and narrow with a world of history. It was named by a people’s vote in 1789 and with its confluence of major waterways and geography that supported water power, the city remained one of the wealthiest cities in America at the turn of the 20th century.
In recent years, the city of Troy has been earning the reputation of being the new Brooklyn, with its growing hipster vibe. There are a growing number of new restaurants, bars, bakeries, and stores in town.