Lauren Schwarzenholzer, BSILR '13
ILO, DECLARATION Office, Geneva, Switzerland
Having never traveled to Europe, I knew college was the perfect time to travel across the pond and explore the vast culture and history that Europe had to offer. I debated for some time whether to participate in a credit internship or a traditional study abroad experience. In the end I decided to do a credit internship with the International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Although it took me some time to decide, my decision to pursue a credit internship is truly one of the best choices I have made thus far in my undergraduate career. For the first time in my life I truly came to understand the saying “the more you see the less you know.” This experience opened my eyes to the complexity of the world and life itself. I realized how much there truly is learn, most of which can only be accomplished outside of the classroom. Although this might seem overwhelming, I found it to be new and exciting. My experience working for the ILO and traveling throughout Europe made me increasingly eager to learn.
My specific work with the ILO was centered on workplace discrimination in the DECLARATION Office. Coming from ILR, where I had taken classes such as Race, Class and Citizenship, Human Resources and Labour Law, this was a topic I felt I had a comfortable grasp on. While ILR adequately prepared me for the internship, my actual experience at the ILO provided me with another dimension of knowledge on discrimination. Through my work I attained an international perspective on workplace discrimination, specifically on the different international standards, principles and rights governing the topic. My work not only exposed me to best practices and workplace non-discrimination success stories, but also enlightened me on the technical, legislative, legal, cultural, and administrative barriers that many countries and people face. Throughout the semester I helped draft a guide to developing, implementing and monitoring a workplace policy on racial diversity. I also created a problem analysis on gender inequality in Côte d'Ivoire, researched discrimination against Dalits in India, and analyzed the legal challenges that developed countries faced in implementing Convention No. 100 on Equal Remuneration and Convention No. 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation). Interested in pursuing a law degree after graduating from ILR, I took a keen interest in my project on the legal challenges that developed countries face in implementing ILO Conventions. I was able to use the research that I conducted for my supervisor to write my independent research project. I was extremely lucky to have one of the world’s leading officials in workplace discrimination as my supervisor. Through our close interactions and collaboration on various projects I learned infinitely more than I would have by reading a textbook.
Throughout the semester I was also able to do many other things besides work. I traveled to London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Milan, Brussels, Nice, Monaco, Rome, Milan, and various places throughout Switzerland. I went on two hiking trips in the Swiss Alps with colleagues from the ILO. I also participated in the ILO Internboard as the communication chair of the newsletter. This allowed me to meet and become friends with other interns from all over the world. Through my work, travels and the close friendships I developed with people at the ILO, I was able to gain a rich cultural and intellectual experience that will propel my future studies and career path.
- Lauren Schwarzenholzer, BSILR '13