Me and My Shadow
More than 45 students were matched with alumni and parents for a day of job shadowing during their winter break. The Career Center provides participants with an excellent opportunity to learn about a career area as well as make professional connections with alumni and parents.
Several students shared reports of their job shadowing day.
Stefanie Chin ’20 interned with alumna Caroline Harrington ’16 at MarketSmiths, a copywriting agency in Brooklyn. The following piece by Stefanie appeared on the MarketSmiths website.
I’m a sophomore at Hamilton College, and I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life. In a year and a half, I’m supposed to figure it out. So how do I start?
Luckily for me, the Career Center at Hamilton sets up students every year with alumni in different industries for a day of shadowing. I found myself matched with Caroline Harrington, a Hamilton graduate and a copywriter at MarketSmiths.
I was ecstatic. I desperately wanted to learn how a former student—who was recently in my exact position—found a job that allows her to do what we both love: write.
After a month of anticipation, the day finally arrived. When I got to MarketSmiths, my first impression was of a welcoming atmosphere. Everyone—Caroline especially—was incredibly warm right from the get-go, and the office set-up immediately made it clear that everything MarketSmiths does is a team-effort.
After settling me in with a mug of hot coffee, Caroline was eager to answer questions and to chat about the work MarketSmiths does and what it means for their clients. She talked about how their work boils down to creating emotional, visceral reactions with words. How the best kind of copywriting is, at its core, storytelling. How, in a world so rapidly evolving, MarketSmiths strives to obliterate the emotional distance common in business writing with phrasing that resonates and inspires action.
Over the course of the day, I learned about Caroline’s post-Hamilton experiences, and also the career paths of the other team members, and how they stumbled upon their profession. Prior to this experience, I hadn’t even considered the fact that this job existed. But when I thought more about it, of course it had to exist. When it comes down to it, everything we read can be traced back to a copywriter, or someone acting as a copywriter. Writing copy is telling a story—and our world is full of stories. From websites to blog posts, from email newsletters to eBooks, what readers are consuming is ultimately copy: a blend of information and persuasion.
From this foundational business model, I learned how the ‘Smiths are also engaged in making clients feel well taken care of. I learned how everyone is a bit of their own project manager. I learned about the research department. And I got a taste of the dumpling-eating, the coffee-making, and the constant laughter. It was such a happy, pleasant office full of passionate people. All in all, everything I observed on a chilly December Wednesday has me convinced that there’s never a slow moment in this Brooklyn office.
Learning about MarketSmiths (and copywriting in general) has made me feel like I’m suddenly realizing the existence of something so obvious, yet understated. Like bread, or water. It’s jarring to realize I haven’t wholly acknowledged an entire industry for the amazing thing that it is, especially when this layer is so vital to the success of all businesses.
I now wonder about every word I’ve ever read. I wonder about the unseen minds behind each word and their uncanny ability to create a personal connection. And that’s exactly what I came to MarketSmiths for: to be overwhelmed, to have my outlook flipped on its head. And the company I shadowed didn’t disappoint.
At the end of the day, I’m still a sophomore in college, and I still don’t really know what I’m doing with my life. What I do know, though, is that MarketSmiths added a whole new layer of endless possibilities for me out there. And I’m excited to keep exploring.
Stephen Wisser ’20 shadowed Dr. David Abraham, a spine and neck surgeon in Reading, Pa.
I am a neuroscience major and although I have been completing the pre-med requirements, I wasn't quite sure if I was interested in doing graduate coursework in medicine, or in more of a research/academia route. As a result, I was particularly interested in this shadowing opportunity to further explore careers in medicine, and this was certainly an experience that allowed me to do just that.
I was with Dr. Abraham for about 3 hours in his office setting (as opposed to his surgical facility) and my day consisted of following him around as he met with patients. Before each patient meeting, Dr. Abraham would review the patient’s chart and give me a quick explanation of what conditions the patient had and what the goal of the appointment that day was.
The day was truly a behind the scenes experience as I saw patient-physician interactions, but was also given one-on-one explanations before and after meeting with patients to get the full picture of what was happening in the room.
Although I believe one’s calling to the field of medicine takes years to realize, this shadowing experience was certainly a pivotal moment for me to ponder my graduate school aspirations. Although I’m not 100% sure that I see myself going into medicine, this experience has convinced me to continue to explore the profession, and continue along the pre-med track at Hamilton.
Zhaosen Guo ’21 shadowed Sarah Bither ’13 who works as product specialist and business analyst at Cinch Financial, a Fintech company that is building a comprehensive personal finance intelligence platform.
I was glad to find out that their Head of Decision Intelligence, Chip Baker, is also a Hamilton alumnus. Sarah explained to me to her experience of graduating as a Japanese and East Asia Study major and gradually finding her interests in finance and management.
As more people came in the office, Sarah began to introduce me to her colleagues and set up time for me to talk to them individually throughout the day – she heard that I am undecided for majors and wanted me to know more about different fields in Cinch. Eventually, I was lucky enough to talk to people that worked in financial modeling, data analysis, computer engineering, customer experience, and public relations. I gained better understanding for those career fields and got to attend two cross-departmental meetings.
My day in a startup company also showed me important characteristics about this type of business: it is basically a “liberal arts” firm with relatively small size, flat organization structure, friendly environment, and fluid roles for employees. In addition, I was inspired when Sarah mentioned her idea of giving back to Hamilton – I realized the reason for us having a strong alumni network is that everyone contributes. Sarah received lots of help from Hamilton alumni when she was looking for jobs, and now she is assisting undergraduates like me to explore our career paths.
Jiin Jeong ’21 , a computer science and world politics major shadowed two alumni.
Over winter break, I shadowed Colden Prime ’10, an iOS app developer in Accenture Digital (previously Intrepid) in lower Manhattan, and Robert Barrowman ’07, a corporate lawyer at Matt Law Firm in Utica. I had connected with them in November via phone and e-mail.
The day with Colden and his project team began with a video conference during which they discussed the tasks they had accomplished and still had remaining. He reviewed the event app he was working on, and gave me a run-through of the code, explaining what he was implementing and debugging. I was able to ask questions about Swift, Apple’s programming language which my friends and I have tried using to build an application. His co-worker later invited me to see his project and explained about test-driven development, and later I interacted with other developers and designers in the company.
My second shadowing opportunity was at the Matt Law Firm. Bob Barrowman '07 first gave me a tour and introduced me to the other lawyers in the firm, including FX Matt P’11. We spent most of our day looking at different contracts ranging from employment to product supply agreements to corporate formation.
I was fascinated about the “whereas” and “now, therefore” structure and the legal jargon of a contract. Later in the day, I practiced legal writing myself and talked about law school and law firm experiences.
The two shadowing experiences helped me to realize that I enjoy the analytical, communicative, and cooperative aspects of a developer and a lawyer and that I would like to consider pursuing these careers in the future. It was exciting to see how codes can be implemented into actual working products and how a little difference in wording can change the meaning of contracts.