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It was also a "foundational experience."

The CEO of Goldman Sachs told interns his first finance job was agonizing and brutal

If you've spent this summer working as an intern at Goldman Sachs, chances are you've worked hard. Despite Goldman's rule, introduced in 2015, that interns have to go home at midnight and stay away until 7am, there are plenty of complaints on forums from people purporting to be GS interns who say they worked long hours in New York or London.

However, even a 17-hour day involving endless tweaks to a PowerPoint presentation might be better than the experience Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon went through.

In a talk to Goldman Sachs interns posted on the firm's YouTube channel a couple of weeks ago, Solomon described his first job in finance as a "foundational experience" but also as "agonizing" and "brutal." 

It's easy to see why.

During the summer after his freshman year, Solomon said he spent eight weeks working for Merrill Lynch's brokerage office in New York City. Every single day, he was expected to make 100 calls. Each week he was expected to make 500 calls and over the eight week period he presumably made 4,000 calls to prospective clients. 

As a result of all his efforts, Solomon said he achieved two meetings and opened one account for ML. "And they said that was highly succcessful."

He nearly gave up, but when Solomon went home and told his father he didn't think he could handle all the cold-calling, his father told him to stick with it. "After the first week of me going home to my father and saying I can't do this for the summer, he said. "Yes you can - you can do this. Find a way to make it into a game to make it more exciting," said Solomon.

He took his father's advice and played a game of seeing how long he could keep people on the phone. "It actually was a super experience," Solomon said. "It taught me you could pick up the phone and call anyone, but it was brutal." 

These days, firms like Goldman have fewer people working the phones. 'High touch salespeople' who offer big clients specialist advice are fewer in number and low-touch phone jockeys like young Solomon have been replaced by electronic trading systems. If you join any bank now, you're unlikely to have a similar experience.

Solomon said it makes sense to take a first job at Goldman Sachs (although he probably would say that.) 

"If I was coming out of school now, I would absolutely come to Goldman Sachs," he told the interns, saying that they need to think about what they're trying to accomplish in the short term - not what they want to do for the rest of their lives. "You are not trying to find the perfect job. You are not trying to know exactly what you want to do for your whole career. You are trying to get some experience, to get an education, to start building a network and to understand what you do or don't like about professional life opportunities. 

"What better place to do that than in an organization that is filled with world class super smart people, that has a reputation for training and developing people, that brands you and opens up opportunities whether inside or outside of Goldman Sachs?," Solomon concluded. 

Solomon said previously that youthful summers are wasted on internships and could be better spent if young people pursue things that are, "passionate for them, that can make them more well-rounded and more experiential."

He told this year's interns that young people shouldn't be in too much of a rush towards their career destination. "Don't be in a hurry, it's a journey," he added, citing the wisdom of his grandmother. 

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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