ILR 5990

ILR 5990: Cross-Cultural Work Experience

Course Information and Registration Instructions

School of Industrial & Labor Relations

Professor Pamela S. Tolbert
School of Industrial and Labor Relations
Graduate Programs
218 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: (607) 255-9527

Please read this page thoroughly BEFORE registering

Eligibility and Procedures:

This course is open only to MILR students who will be working in the summer in a country other than that of their citizenship or past work experience. This option is only available for students who have been enrolled for one academic year by the time the Internship begins. ILR 5990 is a 1 credit, S/U course. To take ILR 5990, you must register on line here; you will be manually enrolled in the course separately, by the ILR Registrar. The grade for ILR 5990 will be posted in the Fall semester after the requirements are satisfied.

Prior to registering for the course on this web site, students must obtain a summer internship offer. Once that has been done, registration can be done online on this web site.

A few days after you register on line for the course, you will receive an approval email from the International Services. You will then need to come to B50 Caldwell Hall in order to pick up your new I-20 with the work authorization. You must hand in a copy of your job offer letter when you pick up your updated I-20.  REMEMBER that in addition to registering on line and getting your work authorization at the ISSO, you must also enroll in ILR 5990 in the Fall. More information about Curricular Practical Training work authorization is available here. Visit us to discuss any questions you have about CPT or email

You MUST notify Professor Tolbert and Elizabeth Shedd at International Services if you change or drop the internship after registration. The internship may not be extended beyond the summer, and you may not drop the course after completing the internship without invalidating your work authorization and jeopardizing your legal status in the US.

Registration Form

Objective and Assignment

The goal of this course is to promote an understanding of the challenges encountered in the work environment as a result of cultural differences. To that end, students are required to complete a 1-2 page summary paper following their summer internship that explores these differences. You may focus on national cultures (e.g., China vs. the US) or, if more appropriate to your circumstances, regional or industry cultures (e.g., banking vs. high-tech).

The paper should begin with a brief description of your background and the internship (N.B., do not fill this section with long quotes from the company literature or summaries of your summer projects).

The body of the paper should focus on three incidents from the summer that illustrate the cultural differences. Include in your descriptions who was involved, what occurred, why it was significant, and how it might have been handled in your previous job or home country. Examples of types of issues to draw on include hierarchies, time management, team- work, gender roles, communication channels and styles, or work/life balance.

The conclusion should state your main take-aways from these experiences in terms of the more general assumptions you brought to the new environment and how you adapted.

It is a good idea to keep a journal during the internship to record the situations and observations on which the final paper will be based. It is also a good idea to write a brief outline for the paper before you start. The final paper is due in the ILR Graduate Office by October 15. Revisions may be required before the final grade is posted.

Registration is now open