We can all agree that University is an awesome place to meet new people and explore your interests. But, more importantly, it is a time where you really get to discover your passions and future career aspirations. Whether you’re looking to prepare yourself for the ‘world of work’ or simply interested in learning more about an industry, internships are a great way to gain valuable hands-on experience (and boost your CV!!!).
We spoke to Romain Touyé, a second-year Accounting and Finance student, who is currently enrolled in the Summer Internship Program at Goldman Sachs, a 10-week program offered to University students, about his internship experience.
Romain Touyé, Accounting and Finance undergraduate
Q: What is your role at Goldman Sachs?
A: I’m a Summer Analyst in the research division covering European banks. Essentially, research on investment banks is analysing companies in the sector and recommending a price target so that investors have an idea of what they should buy and sell. As an intern, you don’t really voice your opinion because you’re not qualified enough to talk to clients, but what you do is that you assist your analyst in gathering data, updating models, so he or she can be more efficient in the recommendation they make.
Q: How has your internship experience at Goldman Sachs been?
A: The experience has been very stimulating. The program is very well structured with a good mix between desk experience and training with face time with different analysts in the division and in Goldman Sachs.
The amount of day-to-day work you have really depended on the needs of the business at the moment. Sometimes you have less workload in a week because nothing much is happening, but in other weeks you have much more to do. For example, last week was ‘Earnings Season’ where banks reported their quarterly financial reports. So for research, those weeks are extremely long and important. In these cases, you’re given a realistic task to work on, but also it depends on your analyst or manager. For example, I don’t do the same task as another intern simply because the analyst has different projects.
Goldman Sachs, London Headquarters
Q: Is the work environment at Goldman Sachs very intense?
A: I think it is intense in a good way. Basically, you’re rarely, if never, left with nothing to do. Even if you have a little time on your hands, you can always send a message to someone working there and say “Hey, I’m interning here and I saw that you were doing ‘XYZ’. Maybe we can get a coffee sometime?” and 99% of the time, they will say “Yes”. So it is a lot of work and we get in early and leave quite late, but it’s not a waste. You don’t feel overloaded by work because the work is interesting. Also because they are understanding, they know that work-life balance is important, both for your personal well-being and for them because a healthy person is a productive person.
Q: Do you see yourself working at Goldman Sachs in the future?
Absolutely. I mean it’s an extremely stimulating place with brilliant people everywhere, who are there to help you. You are also there to help them so it’s a mutual benefit. Basically, you can grow in your role in both a personal and professional matter. It’s one of the best banks in the sector and they have extremely good feedback from people who have worked there.
Q: How many interns are accepted into the Summer Program? What was the application process like?
A: So they don’t disclose the actual number of interns, but essentially I think around 2% of applicants get the internship. The application process at Goldman Sachs is a little bit different from what you can usually expect from other banks on the street. Usually, you submit your CV and cover letter, complete a numerical or written test online, and if you pass them, the company can offer you an interview on the phone and after that, you go to an Assessment Centre.
For Goldman Sachs, instead of looking at your CV and cover letter, you have to submit an online application and a paragraph for your cover letter, where you are given a word limit. If you pass this stage, you are invited to do a video interview, where they send you recorded questions and you answer the questions on the computer. Then, you have the Assessment Centre, which lasts for around 2 hours. So, you have 3 different interviews with 3 people in the division. For myself, I had to wait about 10 days before I got a confirmation from the company.
Q: What is a challenge you faced during your internship and how did you overcome it?
A: I think the culture shock is something that is underestimated, especially if it’s your first experience. The entire corporate world can be a little counterintuitive at first, like being unsure of how to approach people who have been in the industry longer than you’ve been in your life – that can be a little challenging at times. But once you break this barrier, you actually see that everyone is extremely comprehensive and very nice. They understand that you can be shy and they’re okay with it. As long as you’re a nice person and you show interest and respect to them of course, it can be alright.
Q: What have you learned from your internship experience?
A: You learn a lot about yourself by being confronted with challenging tasks, some of which you haven’t encountered before. You start to pick up some habits, like waking up quite early. You can test your resilience and you also see if this is something you want to do because that’s another aspect of the internship that is stressed upon is that you are here to work at Goldman Sachs, but you’re also here to discover if you want to continue working here.
Q: Has your internship helped you to have a clearer understanding of what you want to do in the future?
A: Yes, definitely, because before interning at anywhere really, you only see the job through the experiences of other people, through popular culture: TV shows, books, articles. But you can really have a good idea of what the job actually entails of once you’re hitting the desk up and running and it does give you a sense of what the day to day job is. You discover some tasks that are unheard of because, in the broader scheme of things, they might appear insignificant, but they are actually extremely important. You start to realise that every single detail matters and that you have to really focus on everything that you do and treat every single task as it was an important one, but also being able to manage your time and this really gives you a good idea of whether you want to work in the place that you’re in or in the same job.
Q: Would you still be open to having an internship in a different industry?
A: Absolutely. I think it’s always good to be open-minded and to be open to new experiences, to discover new industries and ultimately, even if you don’t end up in the place that you interned with, or in a different industry, it’s always a valuable experience. You’ll meet people whom you can connect with 10 years down the line and get some knowledge on other skills, such as Online Marketing or Coding for example, and both skills, even though are not finance-related, could actually help you pursue a career in Investment Banking Research. So yeah definitely, any experience is a good one.
Q: What advice do you have for fellow students who are interested in doing an internship?
A: Be yourself. It’s not worth it to fake an interest or to fake a certain personality trait or to embellish certain skills even though it’s not the case. At the end of the day, either the recruiter will know or you won’t have a good experience because the job isn’t the one for you. It’s completely understandable that you want to work at Google or Amazon or any of these big companies, but at the end of the day, if you are not fitting with the culture, forcing yourself to go into such an unnatural environment for you will be counter-productive for the company and most importantly, yourself, on a personal and professional matter.