Summer is coming. If you’re a student who wants to work for an investment bank, that can only mean one thing: internships. And if you’ve landed an internship at a top US investment bank, that can only mean another thing: trepidation. An internship is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for getting a graduate job in banking. If you want to convert your internship into a job offer, you’ll need to play it right.
Goldman Sachs interns have particular reason to try hard during the summer. Even landing an internship at the firm is a huge achievement: 96% of junior applicants are rejected; if you’ve got a place, you’ll want to convert it.
With this in mind, Goldman yesterday ran a Google+ hangout for its prospective interns. There, two former interns (both of whom now have jobs) at the firm discussed how their internships went right and wrong. If you’re a Goldman Sachs intern, they also identified the behaviours that will affront senior the Goldman bankers with the power to hire you. This is what you need to avoid…
1. Do not say “cool” a lot
Jeremy, an operations associate, confessed that the feedback he received during his internship was to say “cool” less frequently. “My feedback was that I said the word, “cool” too much to senior audiences,” said Jeremy. “The takeaway was to focus on my audience and maybe use some more fashionable diction.”
2. Do not try to impress people by talking about work at all times
Serrena, an equity researcher, said that during her internship at Goldman she was told to “just relax.”
“I was talking about work too much,” said Serrena. “I was sitting on the desk, trying to talk about markets and different asset classes, but the people I was with wanted someone they could sit down with for eight to ten hours a day. They wanted to be able to form a personal connection.”
3. Do not make full frontal networking attempts without softening your approach
Internships are about networking. But networking is not about forcing yourself upon people. “Never reach out to someone cold,” said Jeremy. It’s better to reach out to someone warm – find someone to make an introduction, for example.
4. Do not demand to be graded on a scale of 1-5
You will receive feedback during your internship. This feedback is important, but don’t be too pushy about it. The Hangout participants advised against demanding that your performance be rated on a scale. Instead, point out what you’ve done and ask if it could be improved.
5. Do not dislike your fellow interns
Yes, there are only a certain number of graduate positions. Yes, you and your fellow interns are both going for those positions. But no, you should not see your peers as competition. “It’s important to build a bond with your fellow interns,” avowed the Hangout participants. If someone’s already worked on a desk you’re moving to, ask for their advice. Ask what you should read, who you should talk to.
Goldman likes collaboration, so this sort of thing is important.
6. Do not pester people who are clearly above pestering
Your head of desk has agreed to meet you for coffee. So what? If a major announcement happens before the meeting, it won’t happen. “Situational awareness is key,” said Serrena.
7. Do not regurgitate what you’ve learned with no prior cogitation
Goldman wants free thinkers. You need to form your own opinions and question facts imparted to you. People will want to see that you can form your own opinions about what you’re learning.
8. Do not go back to college or university and act as if it never happened
Your internship may only last a couple of months, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore all your new friends after you’ve left. You need some “touch points” when you’re back at school said the Goldmanites. Try ‘reaching out’ to your manager and colleagues once or twice. Check how the team is doing. Keep it short and sweet…
“I had a similar academic background to some of my colleagues,” said Serrena. “So I sent them my thesis. Showing people that you remember something about them can have a positive impact…”