Cornell University

International Programs

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Student Profile

Satoshi Tozaki, MILR '07

From Japan to Ithaca

Satoshi Tozaki, MILR '07I am a first year graduate student from Japan in the MILR program. Prior to coming to the USA, I had worked in companies across Japan & East Asia for about seven years in the areas of labor relations and human resources. Roles in HR and Labor in Japanese companies are quite different from that of US companies. We do not focus on one particular area and I was exposed to many experiences during this time. One of them included being part of a labor standard research team. These teams are set up to explore labor market conditions in geographies that the company is looking to establish operations. As part of our research we would look into minimum wages, demographic trends, unemployment and child labor. I visited more than ten Asian countries, mostly in their developing stage. The first thing I noticed when I arrived in these countries was many young people idling at the airports and along the streets. They always appeared to be waiting for something, perhaps for the opportunity to work productively, for a job that would give their lives meaning and alleviate their poverty. So the questions kept running through my head; "How can they be helped, and can I be one of them who help them?"

My interest in this area soon developed into a passion for exploring ways that these problems might be resolved. At this time I began to read and research a lot of material and got to know about the ILR School through my correspondence with Professor Gary Fields and Professor Sarosh Kuruvilla. After communicating with them for a while, I decided that in order to contribute towards the areas of labor market policy and development, I would need more advanced knowledge and skill sets which the ILR School could provide for.

I have really liked my time at Cornell. It has given me the chance to work and conduct research with professors who are well known for their work in the areas of labor economics and collective bargaining. Also unlike in Japan, where the instructor only teaches you but does not go beyond the material, at Cornell, I am able to get feedback and meet with my professors to discuss about the class or the topics we cover – it’s a two way street. My classmates are also from different parts of the world and I have developed some very good friendships over the last semester.

Some of the courses that I have learned a lot from are Labor Economics, Income Distribution by Prof. Gary Fields, International Labor Law by Prof. Lance Compa, Immigration and the US labor force by Prof. Vernon Briggs and Corrective Bargaining, Industrial and Labor Relations in Asia by Prof. Sarosh Kuruvilla.

In the final lecture of the Income Distribution course, I was very touched by what Prof. Gary S. Fields said to us.

Have a "something" you feel passion for, and then improve others’ lives with your "something". Someone needs you. Contribute to others what you have...

My "something" is knowledge about labor market analysis. I would like to provide decent work for people in developing countries. I would like to assist them in improving employment, work place conditions and human dignity?

The ILR School maintains a good relationship with the International Labor Organization (ILO). With the assistance of Professor Clete Daniels, I will be applying for a summer internship at their office in Geneva. The alumni network of the school has also been very supportive in this regard. I have also been offered the opportunity to undertake an internship as a Labor Standard Analyst for the Government of Bhutan. I was able to secure this opportunity with the helps of my network here at Cornell and with a few students from Bhutan. In this regard, as a term paper of International Labor Law class, I am writing a proposal paper to Bhutanese government, Ministry of labor and human resource for policy making of international labor standard.

After finishing my studies here, I would like to work for an international agency as a consultant to the government of a developing country or in any position of a public institute in which I can contribute with what I have gained from my experience from the ILR School at Cornell University.

- Satoshi Tozaki

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