Tara Moriarty, BS '09
Department of Multinational Enterprises, ILO
When people ask me, "How was your time abroad?" I am at a loss for words, because I do not even know where to begin. The tangible and intangible experiences of working and living in a foreign country are innumerable.
I was lucky enough to receive a credit internship at the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. I was offered a summer position at the ILO and was lucky enough to live in Geneva working at the UN-ILO for almost eight months.
I worked as an intern in the Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy department under the direction of Emily Sims. She is currently involved in writing a book detailing the actual monetary benefits that potentially can be had by incorporating Socially Responsible Labor practices into a company's framework. By writing this book she is able to demonstrate that Corporate Social Responsibility Practices are not just morally admirable, but also sound investment opportunities. Using quantitative data we were able to demonstrate that multinational corporations who upheld the International Labor Standards were actually more stable and healthier companies in the long run. This is information was used to demonstrate the attraction and importance of investing in socially responsible companies over non-socially responsible companies, especially in terms of labor standards.
We were directly involved in educating large investment banks, governments, and development financial institutions on the immense potential benefits to be had by investing in companies that upheld labor standards. Having such a direct impact on the financial operations of many OECD countries and large investment funds was mind boggling. I was so excited just to be a part of something that influenced the investments of millions and millions of dollars, even if it was a small research role. Our whole goal was to get the 'buy in' from these large multinational corporations and governments by demonstrating that investing in socially responsible companies and projects not only made moral sense, but made business sense. Projecting the bottom-line profit margins to these executives definitely made an impact on workers' lives around the globe.
In addition to my exciting work life I was able to experience all the cultural treasures of Europe for the first time. Given that Geneva is the center of international activity, I was able to make friends with people from all over the world. One minute I was speaking to someone from Barbados and the next minute I was speaking to someone from Uzbekistan. Besides my work, I loved this aspect of my credit internship. I was able to obtain so many varying opinions and viewpoints that I never would have had access to otherwise. Not only did I get to interact with people from all over the world, I was also able to see the way the United States is viewed from a global perspective. By going abroad and interacting with a variety of people I was able to look at America, and its place on the global stage, from the outside in. This gave me a new perspective and a new found appreciation for the United States that I would have never received in any other setting.
Besides making seemingly hundreds of international friends in Geneva, I was able to travel all over Europe. Given the centrality of Switzerland, I was never more than a few hours (or even minutes) from a different country or cultural oasis. Seemingly every weekend I was traveling to a new adventure that I had only ever read about in books. A group of us even went sky diving over the Swiss Alps as a culmination of our whirlwind semester abroad.
Looking back now I cannot believe the time went so quickly, or that I managed to fit all of that fun and growth into such a short timeframe. It was a life-altering experience that I continue to cherish. Immersing yourself in a culture, a work-life, and a frame of mind completely different from your own has completely changed me, absolutely for the better.
- Tara Moriarty