Jeffrey Garfinkel, BS '06
Employers Forum on Disability, London
I worked at the Employers Forum on Disability. The Forum is a membership organization, operating not-for-profit, which facilitates businesses with implementing diversity, specifically disability into the workforce. The Forum serves almost all of the major corporations in the UK, including, McDonalds, KPMG, Goldman Sachs, Barclays Bank, Department for Work and Pensions, Department of Health, Forestry Commission, Land Registry, and many other public and private organizations in fields such as television, banking, job placement/hr, financial services, insurance, transportation and utilities. The Forum was founded on the basis of a go-between for business and government, as the Forum keeps members up to date on the newest and best practices as well as compliance with UK legislation. The Forum is located in Central London, and serves over a ¼ of the UK working population. Currently, the Forum has over 400 members and has produced the first ever benchmarking survey regarding disability in the workplace.
I decided to do an internship for a number of reasons. First, I was unable to go abroad and was looking to spend my semester constructively outside of Ithaca. Second, I wanted to gain some real experience that could be used when I graduate and thought that this was a great opportunity to experience the real world business settings. Third, I wanted to be able to provide depth and an impressive experience for my resume, heading into whatever field or graduate/law school I decide to enter. Fourth, the experiences of other interns really made me believe that I could and would have an amazing experience abroad, while at the same time honing my skills and enriching my worth to organizations. At my internship, I was put in charge of a research project, focusing on equality and diversity managers in the UK. For this project, I conducted interviews with HR and diversity managers in large corporations, designed a survey which would profile the daily tasks of Equality and Diversity Managers, and researched E&D Managers in their own business settings. This will all lead to a compiled report to be presented at the annual Diversity Conference in May.
Living in London was an amazing experience, albeit an expensive one. It was extremely easy to get around because there was no language barrier. The city is very large and I have become well adept at using public transportation. The London nightlife scene is incredible with a very wide range of bars, pubs, clubs, concerts, and shows. There is also a great deal of incredible museums in London of which I have had a chance to visit through my class at the Ithaca College London Center. In addition to the nightlife, there is an extremely diverse array of restaurants and markets where you can sample many different cuisines, from Indian, to Lebanese, to Chinese, to traditional British, to Italian, and the list goes on. I lived for a good portion of my time in a very Arabic and diverse area. I became well accustomed to the delicacies of the Middle East, as well as picked up on a few words in Arabic, as there are many signs in Arabic and there are many people on the street speaking the language. The best way I could describe my neighborhood would be a little village marketplace, constantly people walking on the street and eating and sitting in cafes and speaking Arabic, however everyone spoke English and it was not a problem, but I still liked being abroad and hearing a different language, as it adds to the experience. I have also been able to travel a great deal, visiting many European countries, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, Holland, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, and other towns within England. Other than the phenomenal travel and cultural experiences I have gotten from the internship, I also learned a great deal. After just a few weeks, I was acclimated to the business world. I have learned how to conduct myself, write for business applications, and developed a good sense of what it is like to work in the real world. These are all invaluable experiences as I head out of college and into life.
Much of the information I deal with at my job has been directly corresponding with what I learned at Cornell. If anyone is interested in pursuing this internship, I strongly suggest that you enroll in Professor Roberson's Diversity and Ethics class. Using the knowledge I learned there, I have been keen on applying it to my work here, I have been a step ahead, careful to learn other things as I go, but falling back on a strong diversity background. While also enrolled in a class in London, I have learned to manage my time extraordinarily well. There is a big adjustment to be made, when applying knowledge or skills from the Academia world to the business world, and the transition is not always smooth and efficient, but the learning I have done here is really something only gained through first-hand experience.
All in all, I can sum up the internship experience as demanding, interesting, informative, and overall the best 15 weeks of my life.
- Jeffrey Garfinkel, BS '06