My advice to any job-hunting student is to meet as many different professionals as you can, whether that's through attending campus careers events, networking events or talking to people while on work experience. You can start conversations by asking what people are working on right now; most people are happy to talk about that.
I've always found talking to people about careers helpful. For example, I'd initially been interested in electrical engineering, but through conversations with software engineering professionals during my internships I realised that software was essential to progress and development in every industry. I also hadn't considered working in banking until it was suggested by an ambassador at an event run by SEO London, a charity that helps people from under-represented backgrounds enter certain professions. The ambassador was very convincing and so I applied for technology/software work experience opportunities in banking.
I met very clever, very helpful people on the Goldman Sachs spring week and the scheme was well organised with projects and networking events. I knew that I'd enjoy working there. At the end of the spring week, I had an exit interview, which led to an offer of a summer internship, which in turn led to an offer of a graduate job. I would say to keep an eye out for banking opportunities early on in your degree; I could have applied at a later stage – for the summer internship or the graduate role – but it was definitely a smoother process, having completed the spring week first.
Before my interview for the spring week, I did a lot of research about Goldman Sachs and what the role required. My experience working on the Cambridge University Eco Racing team at university – a student project that designs, builds and races solarpowered cars – also helped prepare me for my interview; as it was my role in the team to build relationships with sponsors, I was used to communicating and liaising with senior professionals.
Joining Goldman Sachs as a graduate
You are placed in a team for the summer internship and I understand that in the majority of cases you return to the same team as a graduate, but I didn't. I'd worked in the fixed income, commodities and currencies team but was offered a graduate role in data architecture – this was absolutely the team I would have chosen. I think it might have been because I'd shown an interest in the data architecture team during my internship.
When starting in the graduate analyst role, I had two weeks' training in New York on the basics of finance and on software development. After this, as part of my induction, I worked for seven weeks with other new analysts to build a chatbot to help resolve support issues for the traders, which was really cool as before that I didn't know how chatbots worked. While at Goldman Sachs, I've had access to loads of training that has helped me to get up to speed. I found the ones on Java particularly useful when starting out.
In data architecture we work on the 'pipes' for the software channels that allow applications to send and receive data; it provides platforms for the rest of the bank to do what they do. Our role is to make our technology more scalable, more resilient and easier for our end users to use. I'm based in our London office in a core team of five and I usually work from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. I tend to start the work day with a coffee and catching up with the team about technology uses and trends. Then I began the tasks that I've been aligned to, which could range from writing Java to working on various web developments.
I like software a lot – there is a thrill when you implement a solution and get a process working in the way it should. Software in a bank is constantly changing and there is no shortage of challenges. I've had so many highlights that I can't choose one: it is split between the first website I redeveloped, which was a challenge in terms of picking up the required skills, and helping to organise a hackathon for newer analysts. It was so cool to see the solutions they came up with.
Learning from others
There are lots of opportunities at Goldman Sachs to network and learn from others, ranging from just talking to people in the canteen to joining an 'affinity network'. Affinity networks are interest forums that offer training, networking opportunities, conferences, events with inspiring speakers and socials. They're open to everyone and most employees belong to at least one of them. I've found that getting actively involved is a great avenue for meeting people, sometimes from a similar background. I am on the committee for the black engineers network and it is a good way to give back. I'm also the captain of Goldman Sachs' basketball team. Taking on such roles helps you to meet lots of people and that would be my advice to new starters at any employer: try to get to know as many different professionals as possible.
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