The gift of experience

Credit: illustration by John S. Dykes

When Johns Hopkins asked Chaim Levin, A&S '80, SAIS '81 (MA), to give back, only one way felt right to him. His contribution had to have direct impact and be hands-on. So Levin, chief legal officer and general counsel at Tradition Americas, an inter-dealer brokerage firm in New York City, would host undergraduate interns to work in the legal department and on the business side of brokering "the largest transactions in the world between and among the largest banks in the world."

Since 2005, Levin has immersed Hopkins interns in spaces they probably hadn't seen before—like a live trading floor. The positions, which are unpaid, are highly sought after, with up to 60 applicants for four summertime spots each year. "It's hard to pick between extraordinarily stellar students," Levin says. Some legal interns have co-authored articles with him, parlaying that into positions at top firms. On the finance side, some students have worked on developing electronic trading systems. "It's been phenomenal in that respect," he says. "It's great to see the application of academic prowess in a business environment, and how the two partner to make something from nothing.

"The students enjoy it because they are truly on the cutting edge of complex financial transactions, accumulating and selling data, dealing with trading technologies, dealing with human beings in a very fast-paced and pressurized environment where decisions need to be made in seconds," Levin says. When Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations Susan deMuth and Vice Provost for Integrative Learning and Life Design Farouk Dey visited the site, they agreed. Tradition Americas offers "hands-on, state-of-the-art, cutting-edge experience," Dey says.

Back on the Homewood campus, Dey aims to "scale up the kind of experience Levin is giving to students so that everyone has the benefit." His team is using online tools to recruit alumni and match them with undergraduates who are hungry for guidance and access to opportunities.

For prospective mentors, signing up is as simple as going to to create an alumni profile and be added to the directory. To post an internship opportunity, email with a description and a request for students. A member of the team will respond and help you identify top talent.

Posted in Alumni

Tagged alumni, internships, mentoring