Late last week, we reported on the surprising results of the latest banking and finance internship rankings, which saw both Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan fall from the top 10. While we speculated over the reasons why, we couldn’t offer a clear answer. Was it the hours, the quality of life, or maybe the dwindling pay disparity between big banks and other financial firms?
In an effort to unearth some answers, we dug through hundreds of recent reviews submitted from Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan interns to Vault.com. Quite frankly, the anonymous reviews paint a rather glowing picture of the two programs. Still, there are some unique downsides. Below are the pros and cons of each internship program, along with some advice for prospective interns.
Pros: The best part of interning at Goldman Sachs, at least according to the reviews, is the people. Not just their talents, but more so their willingness to impart information and be a resource for interns, even if they aren’t personally running the program. Interns are quite often given “direct access” to “approachable” senior managers.
Another pro mentioned quite often is Goldman’s rotational program, which gives interns more optionality and additional opportunities to network with current Goldman staffers.
Cons: Frankly, the most commonly listed downer was “nothing,” followed by “it’s only 10 weeks long,” but those are no fun. Other cons include the hours, which are both long and unpredictable. Most interns assumed the former was true, and were well prepared to put in the hours, but some noted being frustrated with not having a static schedule. “When it comes to your personal life…the firm comes first,” said one intern. Several former interns also complained about the cafeteria.
Advice to future interns: Being successful as an intern (i.e. setting yourself up for a full-time offer) is as much about your personality as it is your talents, according to the reviews. Interns “cannot be shy,” they need to be willing to ask questions and network diligently. You must be “confident but not cocky, friendly but not unprofessional, eager but not annoying,” said one intern. Those that do nothing but stick their head in their work likely won’t be greeted with an offer.
Pros: J.P. Morgan interns talked about the quality of the people as well, but the most oft-cited benefit was the type of work responsibilities they were given. It’s not “busy work.” Dozens of interns said they were given some of the same responsibilities as full-time analysts, including working on materials that went out to clients.
This led to greater opportunities for development, additional chances to network with executive and managing directors, and it made the days at the office more enjoyable, according to the interns.
Cons: For J.P. Morgan interns, the biggest con was equally clear: communication, especially from HR. There was a litany of complaints about late notice on the offer decisions, lack of transparency in the offer process, “disorganized” and “not very helpful” HR reps along witha faulty evaluation process.
Advice to future interns: As with Goldman, J.P. Morgan interns stressed the importance of networking while also maintaining your workload. They also highly suggest that you come in well-prepared to hit the ground running, which makes sense considering the seriousness of the assignments. Read newspapers, make sure you are up-to-date on the markets and, if you haven’t done so before, take an Excel class. Several former interns noted the advantages they were provided by having a strong understanding of Excel. Those who didn’t were stuck fighting an uphill battle.