So you want an internship at Goldman Sachs? And more to the point, you want an internship at Goldman Sachs that will lead to an actual job at the firm at the end of the summer? We’ve addressed this before, but Young Money, the new book by New York Magazine writer Kevin Roose, addresses it again, brilliantly.
Roose follows eight young bankers through the first few years of their Wall Street careers. Several start as interns at Goldman and make it through to permanent trading jobs. Based upon their experiences, this is what Roose imparts about how to get your internship and transmute that into a proper job when you graduate.
1. Expect soft questions in the first interview
The first interview for an internship at Goldman will involve gentle and predictable questions according to one of Roose’s young bankers who was interviewed by the bank in Princeton University’s career centre. This young man – ‘Sampson’ was asked easy (and yet telling) questions like, “Why do you want this job?”
2. Expect brain teasers in the second interview
Although companies like Google have ditched brainteaser questions on the grounds that they’re a bit pointless, banks still seem partial to them.
At his second Goldman Sachs interview, Samson was asked the following question:
‘Here’s a game I’ve just invented. The rules are that I flip a coin, and if it comes up heads, you pay me a dollar and the game is over. If it comes up tails, you flip again. If it comes up a second time, you pay me two dollars and the game is over. If it comes up tails again, you flip again. Third time, you pay me four dollars for heads and the game is over, and you flip again for tails. And so on, each time doubling the payout for heads and flipping again on tails. How much would I have to pay you upfront to play this game?”
Roose points out that the purpose of asking this question is to test a candidate’s understanding of tail-risk. “There was no right answer, but the way a person replied could shed light on what his thought process might be like as a trader,” he adds. Samson talked about possible outcomes in the light of game theory and probability – and got a job offer.
3. Be ready for the Goldman ‘desk scramble’
If you get a sales and trading internship at Goldman Sachs, Roose says you’re in for a 10 week “cutthroat competition” also known as the, ‘desk scramble.’
Goldman’s sales and trading interns rotate between three different desks for three week periods during their internships. Inevitably, each of the 120 interns covets a job on the hottest desks dealing with the most exciting products (at the time, commodities and credit) offering the greatest potential to earn a lot of money. As a result, the rotations are an exercise in sucking up to the managers of hot desks in the hope that they remember you and make you a job offer at the end of the internship.
Job offers at Goldman are allocated on the basis of a voting process at the end of the internship, says Roose. Managers vote which interns get offers from hot desks, which get offers on cold desks, and which don’t get job offers at all.
4. Be modest in your attire
This isn’t Goldman-specific, but Roose finds that banking interns also need to be careful what they wear. For men, he says navy suits and white dress shirts with plain dark ties are appropriate. Women need to be equally conservative – tops must not be low cut, skirts must not be short and flesh must be covered,
Both genders must beware out-dressing the boss cautions Roose: no expensive watches, no Gucci loafers, no Hermes bags.
Also: no bright colours.