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Student Highlights: Aaron Gingrande
Major: Industrial and labor relations
College: ILR School
Hometown: Lexington, Mass.
Why did you choose Cornell?
For ILR's emphasis on debate, analytical thinking and conflict resolution.
Main Cornell extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
Lead guitarist in the Cornell's Jazz Big Band and Gussman Jazz Combo. The spontaneity of jazz improvisation allows me to express my emotions, no matter what mood I am in. In the Cornell jazz program, I have played with famous jazz musicians, performed in front of Cornell trustees and accompanied fellow jazz musician Cornell President David Skorton. My musical talent has flourished under the direction of my jazz instructor, Paul Merrill, my guitar teacher, Steve Brown, and from playing music with my peers.
What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
Studying abroad and conducting research in China. I am analyzing the development of human resources and assessing the cultural differences affecting HR strategy implementation and the different effects HR has on business productivity and workers' rights in China and the United States. To fulfill my research goals, I have taken an intensive Chinese language track at Cornell. Going to China and speaking in Chinese with managers and workers about their jobs, seeing the role that HR played in their day-to-day lives and drawing conclusions about how to positively adapt HR practices to the Chinese workplace gave new meaning to my research and academic experience.
Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?
My ILR professors, particularly Professor Ileen DeVault, who piqued my curiosity in American labor, Professor Michael Gold, who taught me to think analytically and to view issues from multiple perspectives, and Professor James Gross, who honed my research skills and interests as an adviser.
Did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
I became interested in China. Its labor issues were recurring examples in my ILR classes. The paradox of China's market economy steeped in cultural tradition, and the Chinese workforce adopting capitalist business practices under a communist regime captivated me. Going to China gave me cultural perspective on these quandaries that can only be gained from living and working there.
What Cornell-related scholarships did you receive?
The Cornell Presidential Research Scholarship, granted to only about 55 incoming students each year who demonstrate a strong research background. The scholarship enabled me to work in Beijing for the HR department of a Korean multinational company called SK; present my findings about company culture and benefits at SK headquarters in Seoul; and interview workers and managers from major multinational companies to determine the effect that HR practices have on a business's bottom line and workers' rights.
What are your plans for next year and beyond?
Law school eventually. In the interim I am searching for a job in a law firm, research institute or business with connections to China. I want my future profession to have an international component. I hope my career starts in the private sector and ends in meaningful public service, possibly as a diplomat.