Pamela Leo, BSILR '14
European Foundation, Dublin, Ireland
My time at the European Foundation in Dublin has perhaps been one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve had the pleasure to engage in thus far in my Cornell education. The ILR Credit Internship program provided me with a unique opportunity to explore a particular career path of interest through meaningful work that relates to my academic interests and classroom knowledge.
In January, I came to Eurofound with only a vague understanding of how European industrial relations worked, but wanted to explore this topic in a hands-on way. Thankfully, I was able to do just that, through the many projects I worked on in the Working Conditions and Industrial Relations Unit. My biggest challenge was to take the knowledge I brought from my ILR classes (mostly American labor law, economics, and collective bargaining trends), and apply it to the material I was working on. I often found myself comparing and contrasting American and European industrial relations, which also allowed me to contribute to formal and informal workplace discourse.
One of my biggest assignments was to help contribute to a comprehensive literature review focusing on European post-crisis working conditions and policies implemented at the European, national and company levels. This paper will be published alongside extensive research and analysis, and will address topics such as types of employment, health and safety, labor migration, as well as work-life balance. Another big project I worked on was the organization of the annual Foundation Seminar Series. This is a unique conference hosted by Eurofound, aims at bringing together various social partners and government teams at national level to promote knowledge sharing and debate on a different topic each year. I spent a lot of time developing the background materials for this year’s theme, diversity management and inclusion in the workplace. In addition, I helped with other conference logistics and planning. Overall, the projects I worked on definitely enhanced my research, writing, and team participation skills. Despite my title as an intern, I was always taken seriously and I felt that the work I was doing was important. Eurofound provided me the tools and support system I needed to immerse myself in the topic of European industrial relations in a way a classroom cannot emulate. In addition, it was great to experience what it is like to work for a research institution. I have learned how academic curiosity is transformed into published research, and all the challenges that must be addressed along the way.
Furthermore, the international aspect of this internship has allowed me to develop a more diverse outlook, when approaching both my work and personal challenges I faced while abroad. Living and working in Ireland has opened me up to new cultural experiences, beautiful landscapes, and some good old fashion craic (that’s Irish slang for fun)! Moreover, I was very fortunate to have a diverse group of co-workers who come from different parts of Europe that loved to share their own stories as well! I also did a lot traveling to different European cities on the weekends and after my internship, which was simply a fantastic time.
My international ILR Credit Internship has been an amazing opportunity filled with challenging work, learning, and a lot of fun. I experienced much academic and personal growth, thanks to my time at Eurofound. Though I look forward to coming back to Cornell in the fall, I will miss Europe!
- Pamela Leo