Student Soldiers : Most students don’t think of ROTC as a campus job that pays for college and guarantees employment after graduation. It does, with a few heavy strings attached.

John G almost didn’t go to college. Growing up in El Paso, Texas, he knew it was a luxury his family couldn’t afford.

“No one in my family had ever done it, and I pretty much figured I wouldn’t be the first.”

ROTC logoBut John is now a junior at the University of Texas. What’s more, when he graduates next year he will be guaranteed a career with better vacation, health and retirement benefits than virtually any of his peers.

He’s going into the Army.

“They’ve paid for my education, they pay for my housing, they’re giving me a job. It’s a pretty great deal,” he said.

Like thousands of students at colleges across the country, John is in the Reserve Officer’s Training Corp. In return for five hours a week while he’s in school, and eight years of full service after he graduates, Uncle Sam is giving him a full, four year ride. On top of that, once a week he gets to go to class dressed up in camouflage.

“Yeah,” he admits, “the camo is pretty cool.” The Army, Navy and Air Force all operate ROTC programs. Their purpose is to transform ordinary college students into confident, prepared officers.

And if you don’t mind the commitment, ROTC scholarships are remarkably easy to get. While they vary slightly from school to school, basic requirements include a mere 2.0 GPA, SAT scores above 950 and U.S. citizenship with no outstanding criminal record. In most cases a cadet must also be younger than thirty at the time they are commissioned.

Even with today’s scaled-back military, “there’s a lot of money to be had,” said Gold Bar Recruiter Lieutenant Mattocks of the University of Texas. “Every year we have scholarships left over.”

These leftovers aren’t small scholarships, either. They include up to $72,000 for housing and tuition over four years, in addition to an annual $450 for books and a $150 monthly stipend.

Usually the post-graduate commitment is two years for every one year of scholarship. However, the average officer serves only three or four years of their commitment on active duty. The remainder can be served in the reserves.

The money doesn’t stop coming when you graduate, either. After a short period of active duty and for a longer commitment Uncle Sam will pay for up to eighty percent of graduate work.

A Marine ROTCThe first two years of ROTC are spent developing general skills, such as how to read a map, operate a radio and perform first aid. Physical fitness is also emphasized. The third and fourth years are focused on more specific abilities that an officer must possess.

For those who would like to dip their feet in without taking the plunge, ROTC can also be taken as a normal elective class for up to two years without any obligation.

“For students who do not want to go into the military, it gives them an extra curricular activity that looks good on their resume,” said Mattocks. “They can develop practical leadership and management skills, and then have an opportunity to exercise those skills.”

White House logo 

There’s no better place to observe how government works than in the White House. The excitement of being in the White House complex and observing the daily workings of the executive branch is incredibly rewarding, if not always as glamorous and tawdry as the news would have you believe.

White House Intern ProgramI spent the summer before my junior year as a White House intern. Unlike many Washington interns, my assignments were meaningful and interesting and I was a valuable part of the team in my office. Better yet, I was given time to attend special speaker events sponsored by the internship office and to explore life in Washington. I also met a wide range of incredible young people and spent a great deal of time discussing complex issues with them.

Not everyone’s experience was as good as mine. Some interns felt they were given too much clerical work, or expected to work the same exhausting hours as paid staffers in their offices. The experience varies greatly depending on the office to which you are assigned; it’s best to talk to former interns before you apply.

Applying for a White House internship isn’t a difficult process – it just takes a sharp cover letter, a resume a one-page essay and three letters of recommendation to get your foot in the door. True, not all applicants get in by merit alone (unless you count well-connected parents and friends as personal achievements). Powerful people can do wonders for your prospects, but they’re not required.

Applicants must be:

    * At least 18 years of age on or before the first day of the internship
    * Enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at a college or university, or graduated the previous semester
    * A U.S. citizen

Completed application materials must be submitted to Karen Race, Deputy Director and Intern Coordinator in the office of White House Personnel, at [email protected] prior to the following deadlines:

    * Applications due March 6, 2007 for Summer 2007 (May 22 to August 24, 2007)
    * Applications due June 26, 2007 for Fall 2007 (September 4 to December 14, 2007)

Getting an Application

There is an online application form which you can fill out. The Adobe PDF version is available here and the Microsoft Office DOC version is available here. To request an application from the internship office, call (202) 456-2742. Once the application is filled out, you need to submit it via Fax. The White House Intern fax number is (202) 456- 7966. You might also want to check with your college guidance office, which probably has a copy of the application on file. Or you can send an inquiry letter asking for an application – which is how I started off – to:

The White House Intern Program
Old Executive Office Building
Room 4
Washington, D.C. 20500

Upon acceptance, candidates must consent to a security clearance prior to their start date and a random drug test. All security measures are confidential and intended to protect the applicant as well as the Executive Office of The President. 

Hacking Competition, Red vs Blue is providing a good coverage of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. Students put their skills to the test, trying to lock down systems against intrusion from an invading hacker team. All in the name of learning.How many times have you heard a commercial telling you how much money an Information Technology professional can earn in a year? Well, trust me; the job is not as easy as it sounds. Just ask the eight teams that participated in the annual Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC). During the event they are under immense pressure to a build web application, maintain a web server with an ecommerce system, manage an Exchange server, keep a DNS server up and running and more — all while protecting their network from four seriously determined hackers.

From the article: “When the three hour grace period was over, the Red Team slowly worked their way into attack mode. One member started to sort through the information they gleaned from their scans and investigated each possible exploit. Another member fired up a MySQL database client and started to poke around the students databases looking for sensitive data. The two others were adding/changing accounts to routers, firewalls, and systems. However, for the most part, the students were not being pelted with attacks. And this continued for the next several hours.”

The rules were fairly simple — at least at first glance. Basically, the Red Team could do anything but hurt someone or perform a denial of service attack (network flood). The student teams were a bit restricted, with regard to changing IP addresses and messing with the infrastructure.

Communication was allowed between team members, but only the team leader could talk to the white cell members about problems, etc. The feds could be called over for an investigation and the Red Team was allowed to try to talk to the teams to put a social engineering twist on the games. Finally, all business objectives and administrative requests are sent to the CEO via email.

I’m all for this and from TFA, this sounds like a great thing (and lots of fun!). It seems that this includes even the social enginnering aspect. In other words, it’s a trivial matter to get into somebody’s system; it takes a whole another skill set to convince that person to hand you the keys to their data. That is to say, attempting to gain access to a computer system through it’s weakest link: THE USERS! It’s one thing to pit technical skill againt the threat of hacking, but it’s been done over and over, all that technical skill accounts for nothing if you have a user that has his/her password written down on a sticky – on their MONITOR! Users must be educated and kept up to task on things like this, and it’s my opinion that the IT/Security industry does not place enough emphasis in that area.

In this contest, Social engineering was allowed. It seems that a few members of the Hacker/Red team would often walk around the room and try and to watch what people were doing. A few times they even stopped and tried to get information out of the student/blue teams. However, they had to leave our team area when asked. It seems that one team actually left sheets with the wrong passwords on the tables in hopes that they(Red Team) would waste their time.

Google Fight between Red vs Blue TeamsEven GoogleFight thinks that the Red Team actually whupped the Blue Team with the Red Team(Hackers) returning 267,000,000 results compared to the Blue Team(Students) which returned 146,000,000 results.

For those who read French here is a press release [] about a team of Scheme hackers headed by Marc Feeley [] participating in a Quebec security competition who won both the first prize for keeping the other nine teams out and the second prize for finding the most security problems in the other teams’s servers.

According to a member of the student team

Up All Night: Now that you have a real job, why are you still pulling all-nighters? You’re on the night shift, baby.

Night shift employees drained outSince a college student’s schedule often involves things like No-Doz and VH1’s Insomniac Music Theater, landing that first nine-to-five job has some appeal.
But what if after four years of blood, sweat and all-nighters, you find that the first real job you’re offered will keep you on a crazy schedule? Should you move back home and hold out for something better? Or is it possible to survive the real world with college-like hours?

The challenge can come in the form of an overnight position at a hospital or newsroom. It might also be a job that entails attending weekend events like business conferences or media junkets. Whatever shape it takes, when your first job requires you to trade in your pillow for coffee or your weekend wear for a coat and tie, you might feel like you’re back in college: working past sunrise, doing more than you’re getting credit for, and losing control of your personal time.

Take advice from a couple of recent grads who found that “normal” real-world jobs aren’t necessarily easy to find.

Student working a night shift job at a radio stationFind the Silver Lining
There’s good to be found in every situation, right? Well, even if you don’t believe that, it might help to convince yourself of it if you plunge into a less-than-ideal work schedule. Kerry Miller, an Indiana University graduate, didn’t mind being an overnight assignment editor at an L.A. news station. “I was excited at the opportunity because it’s not common that someone gets their first broadcast-news job in Los Angeles,” says Miller, who after eight months of working from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. was finally moved to the day shift. “I knew it was temporary and I needed a place to start.”

Bill Reese, a Berkeley grad, knew he’d be giving up some weekends when he took a job as an account executive for a sports public relations firm, even if he wasn’t aware he’d be putting in 12-hour days at events like the Super Bowl and boxing matches in Atlantic City. But he says the flip side of his often-hectic weekend schedule is a very predictable 9-5 work week.

Unmentionables: What you leave out of a resume is often more revealing than what you put in.

A resume tells a story. It’s an idealized tale of professional accomplishment, garnished with action verbs and tasks completed.

Leaving out jobs in a resumeBut this is a different kind of story, about a job that isn’t on my resume and a task that never was finished:
I spent ten days one June working on an organic farm in New Mexico. On the tenth day, the midday air shimmered with heat waves as I lifted my head to inspect the pathetic progress I had made. Four hours, four rows. Baby eggplants drooped in the glare. My work — loosening dry soil and pulling up weeds that threatened to dwarf the wee plants — made me tense. Jab too aggressively, and I risked severing the very plants I labored to help. Hold back, and I was practically inviting the weeds to take over. How, I wondered wearily, would I ever get through this acre of organic eggplants?

As it turned out, lunch brought all the answers I would need.

“I don’t think this is working out,” said Eremita, the owner of the organic farm I had pledged my services to as an “intern,” and one tough cookie. “You just aren’t getting it and I don’t have time to keep watching you.”

I had to admit that Eremita was right. I wasn’t getting it. The baby plants seemed unworthy of my heroic labors, and anyway, this was her farm, not mine. My only profit was an education (read: period of indentured servitude) in organic farming and free room and board.

We parted ways after lunch. I took one more look at the wavering field, wished the tiny plants well and hoped to meet them again in some late-summer eggplant parmesan.

Can it be a surprise that my brief dalliance with organic farming never made the cut onto my resume? Like a rotten tomato, my picturesque foray into rural New Mexico was heaved into my professional trash bin, to compost with many other career unmentionables.

Recently, as I was examining my resume, that most over-requested and overrated document of professional life, I noticed that most of what I consider the really interesting things that I’ve done are missing. Not just the eggplant farm (which represented a gutsy leap of faith that sadly turned sour), but the construction work stint, the dude ranch summer, the half-year on the Italian farm — all missing. In my effort to describe my journalism and publishing experience, I reluctantly forfeit the space and context to outline my unique experiences.

Interning at the Dallas Morning News and working at High Country News and the University of California Press are qualifying credentials for the kinds of writing and editing jobs I find myself applying for. It’s harder to evaluate the summer I spent driving a trash truck at nearly 10,000 feet in Colorado, or the month I spent helping to build a house out of straw bales.

Upon graduation, many students volunteers leave idealism behind to become for-profit corporate suits.

However, college students aren’t often presented with the possibility of joining a non-profit organization as a valid career move.

“I know people who have used volunteer work that they love to train themselves for a career to be paid do what they learned as a volunteer,” said Nancy Montagna, the volunteer coordinator of Helping Hands. She is in charge of recruiting the 300 volunteers that Helping Hands needs to put on an annual benefit sale to support poverty organizations.
Get Involved, Get a Job

What can the average liberal arts, science or business major do? Volunteer organizations seek grads with a variety of training and interests. But make no mistake, volunteers and non-profit workers are just as talented as their for-profit counterparts.

Hands on Work
Volunteers for Peace, which aids troubled communities, needs an enormously diverse group of volunteers. According to Peter Coldwell, the director of VFP, volunteers are involved in construction, renovation, conservation, architecture, agriculture and running summer camps.

Management Skills
For the business-minded volunteer, fundraising events like Helping Hands’ benefit sale require individuals to generate publicity, review grant proposals from beneficiaries, solicit crafts and supplies and manage price and data information, Montagna said. Plus, many other leadership positions are needed for the actual operation of the sale, she said.

Programming for Peace
For grads with computer skills, non-profit and volunteer organizations are just as hungry for programmers as Microsoft is. Weiss noted that Children of the Americas needs volunteers to design and maintain the organization’s Web page so the ministry children can be connected to the rest of the world.