*Hamilton's career shadowing program is designed to assist sophomore students with career exploration and decision making by offering the opportunity to "shadow" (observe) a Hamilton alumnus/a or parent in the workplace for a day or part of a day. Visit HamiltonExplore to learn about the 200 opportunities available to the current sophomore class.
Using the HamiltonExplore opportunity, I shadowed Stuart Finkelstein, a Partner and Head of Tax at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP. Not knowing what to expect from spending only a day with Stu, I went in with an open mind.
Meeting Mr. Finkelstein was a memorable experience. He introduced himself in a casual manner, insisting that I call him Stu, handed me a bag of Skadden, Arps gifts and said "Vic, here's your swag bag!" I won't forget his open and pleasant demeanor and excitement to meet a student from Hamilton. That morning Stu had been asked to present at a conference (on tax) and I gladly accepted accompanying him. As we made the walk from Times Square, where the firm is located, Stu shared his story of why he went to law school and why he went into the tax practice. He imparted words of wisdom such as, "treating people, like people" and "never to look down on another person, no matter what tier of the social ladder you're on." At the conference, all eyes were centered on Stu, he's considered as an expert on this matter and again his casual sense of humor surfaced in his presentation. After the conference, we returned the firm for lunch. In the kitchen, he was on friendly and personal terms with all the employees, he also plays basketball with them every weekend. We even played a round of "trash-can basketball," a sport the people in the kitchen and Stu had created. It really was a lot of fun and not something I'd expect from a lawyer, especially not a Partner in Tax.
After lunch, Stu introduced me to other associates in the practice. He believed that taking into consideration his title (Partner) at the firm, he did not want me leave with a one-sided perspective. Meeting the other associates was a benefit. Setting aside the great things they said about Skadden, they were also honest about the fast-pace and pressure filled environment.
After spending a day with Stu, I walked away with the impression that no matter what occupation you choose, there will always be pressure to perform and to perform well. You also should be serious and realistic about both your occupation and expectations because of both cost and time.
Overall, I had an excellent experience with the HamiltonExplore opportunity and the pleasure to shadow Stu. I consider Stu to be an important individual in my network and look forward to having him as another mentor in my professional endeavors. I encourage motivated students seeking to develop a professional network to apply.