Zachary Sadowski graduated from GSU with his B.A. in Philosophy in 2017 and J.D. in 2020. He is an attorney at Cohen & Caproni in Sandy Springs where he advises clients on business, estate, and tax planning. In this interview, we talk more with Zachary about his experience in the philosophy program and his chosen career path.
Why did you choose to pursue a degree in philosophy?
I always had the intention of becoming an attorney and entered GSU as an English major during the summer semester. Everyone I knew convinced me not to major in philosophy by telling me that I’d only end up unemployed. I took my Intro to Philosophy course with Rob Boudreau, who was an M.A. student in the department, and he really showed me how rewarding the field can be. By the end of the summer, I realized the value of studying something I enjoyed and quickly changed my major. Of course, discussing the benefits of the major with faculty helped influence my decision but, ultimately, I was drawn to it because it was just so interesting and I was passionate about it. I don’t think enough can be said about the quality of the M.A. program and the value that the students provide to undergraduates who otherwise may never be exposed to philosophy. The department as a whole has an incredible culture and I probably wouldn’t have chosen to study philosophy had I attended a different university.
How do you use your degree in your current field? What skills did you take from Philosophy into the workplace?
The open-mindedness I gained through studying philosophy is something that allows me to effectively understand and represent a wide variety of clients. Majoring in philosophy also taught me how to write concisely and analytically, a skill that I use every day. I attribute much of my writing ability to the work I did while studying philosophy. Beyond that, I developed a skill for breaking down complex topics and explaining that information to other people in an understandable way. I deal with complex estate and tax issues on a daily basis and it is important that I am able to explain these dense topics in a clear and concise manner to my clients. When dealing with a complex estate plan or business transaction, the ability to think analytically helps me to see how each individual part informs the whole without losing sight of the overall goal.
What were some of your favorite classes and topics in Philosophy while studying at GSU?
I was particularly interested in post-structuralist thought and took as many courses as possible with Dr. Rand. Two of my favorite courses that I took with him were a course exploring the works of Jacques Derrida and another centered on Giorgio Agamben’s Infancy and History: On the Destruction of Experience. I also really loved logic and took both the intro and advanced logic courses. One other course that was significant for me was Dr. Altman’s philosophy of law course, which was taught through the lens of race in America.
Do you have any advice for current or future students who are thinking of majoring in Philosophy?
Take your time and enjoy your courses. You have the opportunity to learn from some amazing professors while studying at GSU and, in my experience, all of them are more than willing to talk extensively about their work or anything else that comes to mind. Cultivate as many relationships with your professors and classmates as you can. I still stay connected with many of my professors and some of the folks I met in the department of philosophy are still very close friends of mine. Contrary to what you may hear, philosophy is one of the most marketable degrees out there and you have plenty of options even if you don’t want to continue studying it beyond the undergraduate level.
What are some of your other interests or hobbies? What are you reading, watching, listening to?
I’m an active member of the Atlanta Track Club and love running 5Ks. Right now, I am training to run my first half marathon in 2022. I also enjoy practicing yoga, playing guitar, and cooking. At the moment I am reading The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans—and How We Can Fix It by Dorothy A. Brown, which illuminates some of the structural inequalities and vestiges of racism that operate through our tax system. There isn’t a lot of analysis out there on the relation of race and tax, and tax law is often viewed as race-neutral, a misconception that Professor Brown expertly turns on its head. I’m currently watching the final season of Insecure. Some of my favorite albums right now are 30 by Adele, Other People’s Lives by Dan Campbell, and Gold-Diggers Sound by Leon Bridges.