How to handle your trading internship at Goldman Sachs
So, you've got a summer internship - or 'summer analyst' position at Goldman Sachs? Congratulations. Now you just need to convert your internship into a full time job. And that might be harder than you think.
We spoke to a former graduate recruiter for Goldman Sachs' securities business. He had these pearls of wisdom for anyone joining Goldman's securities summer analyst class. Basically, whatever you do, don't be bland...
1. It's all about being memorable during the rotations
If you're an intern in securities at Goldman Sachs, you're going to spend your summer "rotating" between different desks. The number of rotations interns have varies. Sometimes it's as few as three, although Goldman has - in the past - offered rotations which only last for an hour to maximize students' exposure to different desks.
As you move between different trading desks, you need to a) bond with the people working on them and b) establish whether they have a vacancy for a new junior to join full time - if they don't have a vacancy, you're wasting your effort.
The recruiter says succeeding in rotations isn't so much about your pre-existing level of finance knowledge and technical expertise. Instead, it's all about how confident you are. "How personable can you be?" he says. "How can you make people like you? Do you go above and beyond when you're doing a piece of work? Are you witty when you go out for team dinners?"
Ultimately, he says getting an offer at the end of the summer is about how much people remember you: "You can be forgotten very quickly when there are 80 other people also trying to get a job."
2. Don't panic - there are enough jobs to go around
"There's never a set number of interns to be converted at Goldman Sachs," the recruiter says. "If necessary, there will always be enough jobs for good candidates. The ideal is to convert 100% of interns into full time hires, but this only happens if the interns prove themselves. The lowest conversion rate I've seen is 75%."
For this reason, he says you're not competing against other interns on Goldman's internships - you're competing against yourself. It's up to you to prove that you're good and to be remembered when the offers come to be made.
3. Practice speaking to "older people" before you arrive, but don't spend hours learning about the markets
Securities internships at Goldman Sachs begin with one to two weeks of classroom training.
For this reason, the recruiter says there's no point in learning all about a yield curve before you start. There are better uses for your time.
"Read the FT and have an idea how markets are doing, but you don't need to know technical details before you begin," he says. "You're better off preparing yourself mentally and emotionally so that you're ready to put the time and give up your summer for the job."
If anything, he says the best way to prepare is to practice making presentations and pitches and to practice conversing with older people: "When you've at university you can get out of the habit of speaking to people in different age groups. You need to know how to act and behave when you're sitting down with a 55 year old Italian partner."
4. Never ever be complacent
Lastly, you should never rest on your laurels when you're a securities intern at Goldman Sachs. "It's an ongoing assessment," says the recruiter. "You might find at the beginning that no one likes you or wants you on their desk, and then on the last day you'll get a job. Equally, you could find that everyone's interested in you at the start and on the last day no one wants to hire you. I've seen it both ways."
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