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What it really takes to get your first job at Goldman Sachs

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Could you make the cut as an analyst at Goldman Sachs? Even getting an internship means you’re pitting yourself against 17,000 other applicants, and converting this into a full-time offer is notoriously tough.

In theory, at least according to investment banks’ graduate recruitment teams, getting a graduate job is open to anyone regardless of degree discipline, college or experience. But what’s the reality?

After an initial two months of training, Goldman’s newly-anointed analysts in London have gained their stripes and have been given Financial Conduct Authority approval. The class of 2013 to make it so far are Emmanuel Alamu, Felicity Anderson, Hannes Ansorg, Andrea Basile, Letizia Bellucci, Alice Bush, Sara Ellfors, Thomas Gade, Jessica Galsworthy, Sophie Hill, Adrian Johnston, Miriam Lehmann, Nahy Saliba, Oonagh Scullion, William Sharman and Lukas Wong.

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What do their profiles tell us about the realities of getting a graduate job at Goldman in the City?

1. You will probably have attended one of three universities

The vast majority of new recruits studied economics, physics or maths and tended to come from three universities – University College London, London School of Economics and Oxford.

2. You will definitely have interned with Goldman Sachs

Most new recruits have completed more than one internship, but everyone has interned at Goldman Sachs, usually in the securities division.

3. You will have exceptional academics

2.1 degrees proliferate at the more prestigious schools, 1st class degrees at those outside of the three universities mentioned above, and a series of As and A*s at A-level or equivalent.

4. You will have gone above and beyond to demonstrate your commitment to financial services

Presenting yourself as being both interested and committed to investment banking is integral to stand out from the crowd. Both Emmanuel Alamu and Hannes Ansorg were campus ambassadors for Deutsche Bank at university; Jessica Galsworthy has financial services work experience stretching back to her school days; and Letizia Bellucci helped organise the New Financial Worlds Conference – all of this will have bolstered their CVs considerably.

5. You will have participated in financial-services friendly sporting activities

Lacrosse, rugby, hockey, cricket – all good.

6. You will have demonstrated evidence of leadership and elitism

Head girl, leading a society at university, a teaching assistant while studying, or becoming a member of Nova 100 – these are the sort of things that set you apart from the crowd.

7. You could have explored other opportunities first

It’s not always essential to go straight from university into an investment banking role. Adrian Johnston is evidence of this – he interned at Lehman Brothers and Nomura in 2008-2009 and Accenture in 2011, despite graduating in 2009. He spent two years on the Teach First programme – a scheme designed to allow top graduates to take time out to teach, which is supported by a number of investment banks – before interning again at Goldman and securing eventually securing a full-time offer.

8. You will have shown evidence of entrepreneurship

Starting your own income stream at university is a good way to stand out. Ansorg said he led the UCL Economics and Finance Society, with a turnover of £50k, and was instrumental in raising funds through sponsorship. He also completed seven internships in three years…

9. An MSc in Finance MAY help

MScs in financial subjects are expensive, with some costing over £20k, and the benefits to eventually securing a full-time place at an investment bank are debatable. However, at least three people hired by Goldman Sachs this year have one under their belt, proving that they can bolster your employability.

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