Hi everyone! It’s been overwhelmingly warm over here lately but other than that my summer is going pretty well, I’m halfway through the third week of my summer research project (it’s flying by, can’t believe it’s been that long!), pride is this weekend and I just finished a book I loved (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) so I’m in a great mood and excited for the rest of the week. Today I’ll talk about my spring internship at Goldman Sachs more in detail.
I found out about the spring program through the Goldman Sachs careers website, I applied some time around November/December. The program is a 2 week internship open to either first year students in a 3 year program or second year students in a 4 year program (I’m in the latter category). The application wasn’t particularly hard to fill out, I had to upload a CV and answer questions regarding my education history, job history, which languages I speak and at which level, nationality, visa status, and a few essay questions (I think they were about why Goldman and why I was interested in the program but it’s been a while). I heard back mid January saying that they liked my application and they’d like to invite me to do a video interview. The video interview was a bit weird but I found it to be way less stressful than a face to face interview. How it worked is that you logged to a website and you could do practice questions to get used to the interface, you got a question and 30 seconds to prepare and then after that 2 minutes to record your answer and when you finished you immediately got the next question. There were around 5 question, none of them were technical as far as I remember, I think there was one about what I’d do if I was a member of a society and the president released exam questions and answers online, talking about working as a team and challenges, how I overcame them and what I could have done better but I can’t really remember anything else. I did the interview wearing a suit jacket and a tie since the email said to wear what you’d wear to an in person interview. A few weeks after doing the online interview I got a voicemail from Goldman Sachs, I called back and it was a recruiter calling from the Warsaw office telling me I was accepted, going over the logistics and pay and asking if I’d like to accept the offer or not, I said I’d like to accept and I got a contract and info over email over the next couple of days. I had to fill out two in depth questionnaires for background/employment checks as well as a third one for immigration purposes which were annoyingly long but once that was out of the way I only got a few emails asking for extra information (things like if I have a national ID number for Mexico/Guatemala, if I’ve had other legal names, etc). Once that was all done we got an email saying everyone who was going to be around London a week before the program started could stop by to get their security pass photo taken on a specific day and time slot but travel wouldn’t be reimbursed since it was only for people who would be there already and we could just have the picture taken on the first day, I did end up going to that session wearing a suit and tie and I was in and out the door within 5 minutes. A few days before that session I’d gone shopping with my mother because I didn’t have any suitable clothing (I just owned a single shirt, a single suit jacket but not suit trousers and a single tie). Also a week or two before the program started I got an email from a Goldman Sachs employee saying he had been assigned to me as my buddy and I could ask him any questions I had about Goldman Sachs and the program and that I’d be meeting him on my first day, I asked a few questions (I think I asked if I needed to do any preparation beforehand and if food would be provided, the answer was no to both) and I also got an email with the hotel booking confirmation (the hotel was paid for by Goldman Sachs).
On the first day we arrived with our suitcases and everything, they were locked in a room, then we got to hang our coats, get lunch, have our passport checked, our train fare/plane fare/etc refunded, and then we had a firm wide orientation with all the interns regardless of department. The orientation was very compliance and legal related issues focused, but there was also things about the firm overall, things like affinity networks and mobility, the perks of being an employee there. At the end of the day there was a welcome event which I unfortunately had to skip due to needing to find a walk in centre to have an injection but I got to talk to some more interns at the hotel. I got a room in trafalgar square, all the interns were split between two hotels one was right next to goldman sachs and the other one (the trafalgar square one) was about a 20-30 min walk away. The second day was the division specific orientation. During the morning we got to log in to the computers, set up our email, meet our buddies and meet our teams and see which project we would be working on for the two weeks. My project was under the operations engineering team, we got assigned a mentor to help us with the project, a project sponsor (the person proposing the project) and we were given names of people around the firm that we could contact about different things relating to our project. All of the projects had a common theme (big data) but they were all under different divisions. The rest of the internship was way less structured. We had a lot of gaps in our schedule so that we could work on the team projects and also do networking, but we had a daily shadowing session where we got to see a lot of divisions around their firm, what they do and how tech fits into it and also sessions focusing on skills (interview skills, presentations, programming with python, hackerrank, probably more things I’m forgetting). During the weekend we didn’t have anything scheduled so we got to explore London and rest up for the final week. The second week was pretty similar to the latter half of the first week, we decided to split our group into 3 subteams so that we could go really in depth into the specific parts of the project instead of ending up with everyone knowing a little bit about everything but not enough for it to be useful or to be able to answer important questions, then we had team wide meetings to talk about our progress and where people asked whatever questions they had so that the other teams could give the information that was needed and we also had daily meetings with either our mentor or one of the other people whose contact information we were given. Thursday and Friday were a bit different from the rest of the week. During Thursday we had our interviews for the summer program in 2019, the interview lasted around an hour and there were 2 different interviewers. Both of my interviewers had a technical background and most of the questions I was asked were technical, either related to the shadowing sessions and project or just tech in general (for example, one of the interviewers noticed I was wearing a fitbit and asked me to explain how it works). We spent the rest of Thursday working on our presentation slides and going through the presentation from start to finish until we were happy with the content and how it flowed. Then finally Friday everyone presented, we each got 15 minutes for the presentation, 5 for questions and everyone had to speak (since the teams were roughly 10 people this meant a bit over a minute per person). At the end of the presentations the judges picked a winner, which was actually my team, they emphasized the team dynamics as the reason why they picked our team rather than the technical side and we got chocolates to share. After the presentations we had lunch and a focus group and then a big closing session. In addition to the team work and meetings we were also encouraged to do networking around the firm, so I contacted a quant I saw on the company directory and he replied almost immediately offering to have lunch with me, which I was surprised by, and we got to talk about his experiences as a quant, expectations vs reality, coming from a math background and how it compared to his previous job and university experience. I also got an email about the LGBT affinity network hosting an event (which I sadly couldn’t attend) and from that I got to meet an LGBT person from the securities division, we spent a lot of time talking about being out as LGBT in the firm and also a bit about his job since it turns out he was also a quant. He then introduced me to a VP in the technology division who does some trans activism and I he spent an hour talking to me that same day and then introduced me to a trans contractor at the firm, who I met the following day. I was taken aback by how caring and friendly everyone at the firm was, even before I got there, how LGBT friendly they are and how everyone in the tech department wears jeans and tshirts just like in any other tech company while I was expecting everyone to be wearing a suit all the time (the interns definitely were, and everyone in the other divisions too) and I got an awesome goldman sachs with an LGBT flag water bottle which I’ve been using practically daily ever since.
About a week after the internship we got an email with a link to take both a math and a programming hackerrank (you could opt to just do the programming one) and then about a week after that I got an email scheduling a phone call. I sadly didn’t get an offer for the summer program but I did get feedback about why (need to work on both my communication and technical skills, which came as no surprise to me, especially now that I’ve been diagnosed with severe social phobia, though more on that in another post) and I can reapply once they open applications for everyone at the end of the year, which I’ll definitely do.
I hope this was useful and gives you an idea of what a spring internship is like, I’m really glad I did it and I had no idea this was an option available (you don’t even need to be studying in the UK to come do it, there were lots of students from around Africa and there was a Stanford student in the program as well). As usual, if you have any questions just shoot us an email and I’ll do my best to answer!