Goldman Sachs is one of the world's top investment banks with clients in every industry and in every corner of the world. We wanted to find out what the bank could offer freshers like you, and so spoke to four first year students who secured a place on the bank's Spring Internship programme specially designed for your year group.
Our quartet of stars all completed the programme with flying colours and have been fast-tracked onto the bank's 2012 summer internship scheme. Find out below how they got on, why they can't wait to go back, and what advice they have for you...
Since the age of 15 or so I've been interested in financial markets and have wanted to know everything about them. There's a lot of information publicly available about investing your money, but it's more difficult to get information about the other side - the creation and sale of investment opportunities, which I was interested in looking into. That's why I applied for a Spring Internship place. I'm really happy that I got onto the programme because it definitely gave me an insight into what this side of things is all about.
We had a lot of work to do over the two weeks. We were given projects to work on alone and as part of a team, to test all the abilities Goldman Sachs wanted us to demonstrate. It was very, very intense, but overall amazing exposure.
Before joining the programme, I saw Goldman Sachs as very prestigious, and that hasn't changed. I expected the programme to be tough, and it was tough. However, I also expected it to be impersonal, and thought I would be sitting in a room working, trying to prove myself and not being allowed to speak to anyone. But it was much more friendly than that - there was interaction with other people all day long. You could talk to everyone! I went up to people at their desks and spoke to them, on my own, and I think I learnt a lot about myself through doing so. You could have met every single person in the firm if you had wanted to. On one occasion I was speaking to someone in the elevator and after ten seconds realised he was a partner! Having these kinds of opportunities was my favourite thing about the programme.
My advice to any first year considering a career in finance is to apply for the Goldman Sachs Spring Internship programme. They demand a lot of you, but you'll get a lot out of it because after the two weeks, you'll know if this industry is for you. That's what makes the programme unique.
I enjoyed the programme a lot more than I thought I would. It was tiring, but worth it. I was placed in Operations and now I'm keen to work there. The job is so varied and the team are involved in so many different areas of the bank's business. We were all given buddies”, who were members of staff who would help you out if you had any issues. I sat with mine at her desk, we had lunch, and she introduced me to the people in her team. Getting her views on Goldman Sachs was really interesting. She had completed a summer internship with the bank and gave me a lot of insights into what this involved and some tips for the future, both of which were very useful.
My advice to anyone thinking of applying would be: go for it! It doesn't matter what your background is, or where in the world you come from. Even if you're not sure what you want to do, this programme is a great way to find out if banking is for you. Do some research, but don't worry too much: they take care of you!
They broke things down for us. They had amazing speakers covering things like the credit crunch, who taught us to think about the economy in social science terms. It was such a breathtaking, eye-opening experience, and I've come away from it desperately wanting to work for Goldman Sachs. I've experienced the real, working world, come back to student life, completed internships with other banks and for me, Goldman Sachs is the best place to be.I've taken a different route to most of the other interns on the programme. I left school in 2004 with no GCSEs, qualified as an electrician, and worked in that industry for four years. But I came to a point when I wanted to further my education, so I redid my exams, took an Access course and eventually started studying engineering. I heard somewhere about the Spring Internship programme and thought I would participate, just to learn about the business - and I was blown away. There were so many things I didn't understand about the banking system until I got to Goldman Sachs.
I worked in the Technology division. Sometimes we sat in classes with interns in other divisions, but because we had our own separate sessions too, there was time for us to communicate with the technology staff who are global leaders in their field. My favourite part of the two weeks was a video conference call we did with the New York and Bangalore offices. Being an engineer, I was very impressed by how clear the line was and then realised that we had one dedicated bandwidth between the UK, New York and Bangalore, and couldn't believe it! We had work-shadowing sessions, where we saw what each department did and also got to see how they fit together to form the bank's business. We had informal breakfast meetings with managing directors, and it was refreshing that these people took time out of their day to listen to us, speak to us, and answer our questions. I found that, across the bank, no matter what stage people were at in their careers, they were willing to speak to us and help us. No question was a dumb question.
I've learnt that you can't rule anything out until you've actually been and done it. Many people dismiss banking because of rumours they've heard. But I would advise anyone who is undecided about their future to apply for the Spring Internship programme at Goldman Sachs.
I first realised I was interested in investment banking when I was 16 and did work experience with my friend's dad who was a banker. Then, two or three years ago, I went to a Goldman Sachs event called A Fresher Perspective” for female students, and that's how I heard about the Spring Internship programme.
Before I started the programme, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to work in banking. But I thought that the two weeks would give me a good snapshot of what goes on at a bank, and would help me decide. Before I went on the programme, I knew what bankers did in general terms, but not about specific roles. I had also read about Goldman Sachs' history and where it operated, how each bank's culture is different, and how Goldman Sachs has a reputation for being bolder than other banks. Spending time there made me realise that the bank has a competitive culture, but not one of competition between colleagues. We got to see how people really work in teams. From the most junior analyst up to the directors, everyone is closely involved in some way on the transactions they work on, and was glad to see the support that people at the bank give each other.
At school and university, you often work on your own, but the Spring Internship programme taught me to bring my own opinions to an issue, while integrating them into a team effort. This skill was really developed on the programme because when you work at a bank you need to present the broader view rather than just your own. We also learnt what to do when under pressure, and how to deal with stressful situations properly. As we were given a lot of information to digest in a very short space of time, critical analysis was another skill we learnt.
I recommend that those who aren't sure what they want to do should apply to the programme, but be aware of the nature of the sector you're entering. Have an open mind and be vocal. If you don't understand something, ask questions. On this programme, they‘re interested in how you think and if you're curious about what they do, not just in whether or not you want to be a banker right from the start.