Readings & Reflection

Welcome to Work & Culture USA! We’re excited for you to have an amazing summer exploring the U.S. and making friends from around the world.

Your program includes the readings and reflections below. Most of all, we want you to have a fun and exciting summer. We also want to help you think about the cross-cultural experiences you’re having, and what they mean for you, your studies, and your career.

You’ll find a schedule and due dates for each these reflection projects below.

Pre-program reading materials and activities

  1. Communicating in your job placement: Culture, context, and cross-cultural communication

    Complete this fun and engaging U.S. Department of State learning module, So You’re An American. It’s designed to help you navigate the challenges of communicating across cultures.

  2. Thriving in your job placement: Taking on the unknown

    Read these articles from our friends at LinkUp. They’ll help you start thinking about some ways to thrive in your job placement, even when you find yourself in the unknown.

Due Date

Before you arrive at your job placement.

Log your completion of this assignment by emailing us at workcultureusa@interexchange.org (with subject line: Pre-program reading complete!).

Field Notes

We encourage you to take notes / journal while you’re on your Work & Culture experience. How you do this is up to you, but we encourage you to write freely about your experiences on the job, working with new people from the U.S. and abroad, and your program in general. Your field notes will help you both with your journal assignments and final reflection, as well as understanding what your summer meant to you and what you learned.

Journal Assignment #1

Think about the following questions about cross-cultural communication in the workplace, and write down your observations and reflections in 1-2 pages:

  • Why is strong communication particularly important in your job?

  • What could happen if miscommunication occurs in the workplace?

  • How would you describe your own communication style? How would you describe the communication styles of your colleagues, both American and international? (Think about what you learned with regard to high context v. low context communication in your pre-program reading.)

  • What do you think the biggest challenges will be for you this summer in adapting to different communication styles and ways of approaching work?

Due Date

2-3 weeks after you arrive

Submit your assignment by emailing us at workcultureusa@interexchange.org (with subject line: Assignment #1 complete!). Attach a Word document with your reflections or paste them into email body.

Journal Assignment #2

With your international friends, do this Hofstede Cultural Comparisons exercise.

Write down 1-2 pages of observations and reflections on how you answered these questions and what you learned from the exercise. Compare how the United States and your friends’ various countries score on the six areas of comparison:

  1. Power distance
  2. Individualism
  3. Masculinity
  4. Uncertainty avoidance
  5. Long term orientation
  6. Indulgence

Together, talk about the following questions

  • Where do you feel the score for your country accurately represents its cultural attributes?
  • Where do you feel the score is not accurate in its portrayal of cultural attributes, or presents a stereotyped view?
  • Did the attributes of your friends countries fit with your perception of those countries? What was most surprising about their countries’ scores?
Due Date

Two weeks before you return home

Submit your assignment by emailing us at workcultureusa@interexchange.org (with subject line: Assignment #2 complete!). Attach a Word document with your reflections or paste them into email body.

Final Reflection

Imagine you’re about to interview for an internship. This internship might be with a business, or with a nonprofit organization, or with a university office, or with a publication. Your interviewer is likely to ask you about your Work & Culture USA and Global Glimpse experiences. And that’s good! You’re probably eager to talk about them.

But how should you talk about them? If the internship you’re applying for isn’t directly related to these experiences, then why do they matter? How are they relevant? How can you connect those experiences to the internship you’re applying for? Why are these experiences something your interviewer should know about, something that is very important to who you are as a candidate, something that should make him or her want to give you the job?

Your final reflection is to answer these questions.

First, read these articles:

  1. Check out the key attributes employers look for on a student’s resume
  2. 8 Ways to Talk about Your International Experience in an Interview
  3. How to Use Your Study Abroad Experience in a Job Interview

Second, think about and sketch out how you would talk about your Work & Culture USA experience in a way that will be compelling to your interviewer. What are the key points you want to make? What are the skills, qualities, and attributes that you developed from your experiences that would be relevant to the internship (or any internship or job)?

Third, record a one minute video of yourself telling your imaginary interviewer why these experiences matter, why they are very relevant to the internship and why they should make him/her want to hire you.

Draw on your previous reflection assignments and the reflections you jotted in your field notes. This project is meant to help you, first, think critically about why these experiences matter to you and then, second, practice making your elevator pitch to deliver this information. Do your best to keep your video focused – no more than one minute.

Due Date

Two weeks after you return home

Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and send us the link at workcultureusa@interexchange.org (with subject line: My Final Reflection!).

Questions about any of this? Don’t hesitate to contact us at workcultureusa@interexchange.org.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation