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How to turn a fast food job into a career at Goldman Sachs

Fast food

Getting your foot in the door at Goldman Sachs typically requires a blue-chip pedigree just for starters. You certainly can’t be unemployed and degree-less. Or maybe you can.

Goldman this week provided an update to its apprenticeship program in London, profiling three people without undergraduate degrees or relevant work experience who grinded their way to full-time jobs at the firm, all while getting their BA.

The bank initially launched the program back in 2012 as a response to the London Evening Standard’s campaign to help unemployed young adults. They brought on 10 apprentices in 2012. Seven were admitted to the one-year program in November of last year. And six from the 2013-2014 campaign now have full-time jobs at Goldman, including the three profiled by the bank, according to the firm’s website.

This includes Alexandra, who worked at a fast-food restaurant during her school years and who eventually went on to complete a Level 2 apprenticeship in hospitality and catering. She was offered an apprenticeship within the firm’s Global Investment Research Division as part of the management and admin team.

She worked four days in the office and spent Friday studying at Hackney College. She went full-time halfway through the program and completed her business administration qualification on her own time. She now has a real job at Goldman.

Another former apprentice named Megan, who worked as an admin and who didn’t have her BA, followed a similarly atypical path, as did Manish, who completed his National Vocational Qualification while working four days a week within Goldman’s Corporate Services and Real Estate division.

Goldman didn’t immediately get back to us with details on the program, including pay rates, but one of the apprentices said she earned a wage while studying, so it is a paid internship. The London Evening Standard reported back in 2012 when the first program was launched that apprentices made £8.30 an hour. We’re unsure if that rate has been upped. In a video Goldman posted earlier, another apprentice said he was up against 66 other applicants for his one position, so the process is competitive. There were around 400 total applicants in 2014.

The one downside: the full-time careers that are made possible by the apprenticeship program aren’t in the front office and appear rather low level. Two of the profiled employees are team assistants. The other is an analyst in in hospitality operations, ensuring the delivery of all employee restaurants, client catering and private dining on campus, among other things.

While the apprenticeship program is only available in London, the US operates a Returnship Program, which provides opportunities to more experienced employees who have been out of the workforce for several years. The 10-week program also ends in full-time offers for some returnees, though they tend to be higher level. A 43-year-old who was accepted into the program in Sept. 2010 was a VP as of early 2013.

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