Goldman Sachs Internship: A Comprehensive Guide to Land Your Dream (Update 2020)

Securing an internship in Goldman Sachs is one of the best paths to receive a full-time offer in this firm as well as other Bulge Bracket investment banks. Every year, top students, as early as sophomore year, from all schools compete for an internship in Goldman Sachs. In such a grueling race, who possesses an outstanding resume, maximizes networking and aces the interview will definitely have the upper hand.

This article gives you an inside look of Goldman Sachs internship programs and practical tips of securing an opportunity. 

1. Goldman Sachs – Dream Land of many Bankers

1.1 A Super Star at Wall Street

Goldman Sachs – one of the best performing banks acquires the largest share from Wall Street activities including trading and investment banking. In 2020-2025, Goldman Sachs plans to double its workforce in China (approximately 600 people) to take advantage of Beijing opening up its financial market (according to Bloomberg). 

1.2 A Reliable Place for Career Development

Goldman’s outperformance allows the bank to pay for their employees generously. An analyst can earn up to 120,000 USD per year. When it comes to working hours in Goldman Sachs, it completely depends on each division. For example, trading division requires an analyst/associate to work 60-70 hours per week while people in investment banking division necessarily have to work for 80-100 hours per week. 

The reason many people want to work for Goldman Sachs despite a stressful working environment is its exit opportunity. Goldman’s brand carries a lot of weight not only in the U.S but also around the world. Thus, an internship in Goldman Sachs definitely catches the eyes of Bulge Bracket Banks’ recruiters. On top of it, top performers in investment banking division are able to reach high-profile destinations such as the biggest Private Equity firms, Hedge Funds or Venture Capitals. 

Along with the promising salary and exit opportunities, requirements for entry-levels in Goldman Sachs are demanding: top-school students with strong academic record, work experience/internship in prestigious firms and ability to pass the challenging recruitment process. Hence, an internship in Goldman Sachs is one of, if not, the best way to become a full-time banker in this Wall Street super star. Besides an outstanding resume with ability to master the interview, applicants should intensively network with bankers in Goldman Sachs through school’s alumni, Goldman’s diversity programs or LinkedIn. Our networking guide enables you to approach bankers in the most effective way.

At the same time, Goldman Sachs provides employees with numerous learning benefits. Goldman’s bankers are usually involved in multibillion dollar deals requiring in-depth works such as the sales of Tableau to Salesforce or representer of Ultimate Software to Private Equity firms.

Let’s take a look at learning benefits of entry-levels:

Experience on the job

Training

Analysts/Associates are involved in financial analysis & valuations, client pitches/the execution of transactions, and industry research. There are also many resources in Goldman Sachs for employees to have a perfect match with a 401k plan portfolio.

Training programs in investment banks generally and Goldman Sachs specifically are widely recognized as industry leading programs. 

On arriving in New York, all the analysts complete a two-day orientation programme, which includes an introduction to the history and culture of Goldman Sachs. Following orientation days, the firm begins their divisionally-aligned programme, which can vary from 10 days to 8 weeks in length.

 

Career Progression:

Goldman Sachs career ladder will start from full-time 1st Analyst, 2nd Analyst, 3rd Analyst, Associate, Vice President, and Director/Managing Director

Role Promotion Timeline
Analyst 2-3 years
Associate

2-3 years

Vice President 4-5 years
Managing Director Depends on performance & ability
Partner Depends on performance & ability

1.3 Programs in Goldman Sachs

Programs for anyone aiming to work at the “top of the top” investment bank are categorized into 3 main types:

Summer Program

Goldman Sachs summer internships are the most sought-after programs for both undergraduates and graduates. While the Summer Analyst Program only accepts college or university students, the Summer Associate Program is designed for candidates pursuing an advanced degree such as MBA, JD, MD, or LLM. Despite lasting for only eight to ten weeks, summer programs are the entrance tickets to its full-time positions. These programs are important for Goldman Sachs as this firm believes interns could bring a fresh perspective to project’s working.

 

Summer Analyst Internship Program

Summer Associate Internship Program

Timeline

8 – 10 weeks

8 – 10 weeks

Eligible Applicants

Undergraduate students from sophomore years 

Graduate students

Qualifications

Relevant finance undergraduate degrees

Advanced degrees such as MBA, MFin, PhD, JD, MD or LLM

Experience

Little to no experience

Relevant finance experience are preferred

2 – 5 years of relevant work experience

Full-time Program

New Analyst Program and New Associate Program are the doors to the investment banking industry for final year students. The New Analyst Program is open only for undergraduate students level while the New Associate Program requires students with two to five years of experience and an advanced degree.

Besides direct application, another way to secure a spot in these programs is through the Summer Program. As a rule, students who were offered the summer Goldman Sachs internship position with superb performance during the 10-week long summer are automatically considered for these Full-time Programs. They can even get the opportunity without going through a competitive application process. 

Exploratory/Diversity Program

Students (typically in first year) or anyone who is late for the two aforementioned programs can apply for exploratory programs/diversity programs. Participants not only have chances to understand a typical workday of bankers but also network with one of the smartest people at Wall Street. There are some noticeable programs including:

  • Goldman Sachs Undergraduate Camp
  • Goldman Sachs Pride Summit 
  • Women’s Leadership Camp
  • Diverse Abilities
  • Insight Series
  • Virtual MBA Roundtable Series
  • Goldman Sachs ‘Virtual Office Hours’ Sessions

 

2. Goldman Sachs Internship Salary and Job Description

Internships in bulge bracket banks are widely recognized as the highest paid internship for students, Goldman Sachs is not an exception. According to CNBC, in 2019, average monthly compensation for an intern in Goldman Sachs is $4200.  

In investment banking division, interns will be part of a team and can use their initiative. They provide assistance to bankers in projects such as pitch books and the execution of mergers and acquisition mandates

In Sales and Trading division, interns will support analyst/associate research market trends and opportunities for clients. They are also in charge of preparing client presentations and building financial models/reports. On top of it, interns assist sales or trading teams with daily work on the trading floor. There is one week for training, followed by one five-week rotation and one four-week rotation throughout various desks within the Fixed Income and Equities. 

The internship programs for Equity Research (or Analyst Internship) are super rare. Statistically saying, only 0.3% of all Investment Banking Internship related is Equity Research Internship. If Equity Research is your career path, you have to put all your efforts and plan a strategic way to approach a relevant internship opportunity. Research team from Goldman Sachs sometimes needs interns who are responsible for researching industry and market data, company valuation/summary or providing monthly/annual reports for the team. 

Summer analyst and associate interns have opportunities to:

  • Attend orientation to learn about Goldman cultures, as well as the benefits and responsibilities of being a member of the firm.
  • Receive division-specific training designed to be successful.
  • Have the opportunity to work on real responsibilities alongside fellow interns and Goldman people. 

3. How to get a Goldman Sachs Internship

Application of summer analyst programs usually starts from April to November. Thus, it is important to attend on-campus events for networking before this time. Besides, when it comes to summer associate programs, applications are released in January, 1st interview in April and on-board in June. Therefore, landing a Goldman Sachs internship requires candidates to network at least 6-12 months in advance; prepare the most-tailored resume, related experience and how to ace the interview. Non target students have to put 200% effort in networking along with an outstanding resume & ace the interview.

3.1 Start to Prepare as Soon as Possible

As mentioned before, securing a Goldman Sachs internship is highly competitive which requires months of effort for preparation. The most important thing is a record of strong academic performance (maximize “easy A” classes in the first two years). Besides, getting some supportive finance-related experiences after first year is another priority such as internships in private Wealth Management, Boutique banks, Big 4, Consulting, corporate finance at large multinational companies or taking part in investment clubs at university. 

On top of it, understanding about all functions in Investment Banks such as Merger and Acquisition (M&A), Sales and Trading, Equity Research and Asset Management is very important. 

3.2 Networking

Besides having an outstanding resume, candidates should focus on networking to get an entrance ticket to a Goldman Sachs internship. The ultimate goal of networking is to get your resume passed to HR department of Goldman Sachs, have an informational interview or receive some practical tips for the interview. It takes months of effort to talk and follow up different people so at least 6 – 12 months of preparation in advance are highly recommended. 

Top school students can approach alumni networks at university. Besides, you can approach current professions in investment banks generally and Goldman Sachs specifically via LinkedIn, cold call, email, or participate in networking events, information seminars, sport events, golf courses, etc. 

An appropriate approach will support for job referrals. Many casual topics such as sports, music, art, etc are helpful for getting to know at a personal level in order to find a common interest between two sides. Our networking guide will give you practical tips in how to network with bankers. 

Non-target students should put 200% effort in networking such as sending 50-100 emails per day to professionals in investment banks. Besides traditional ways of networking, it is suggested to attend some diversity programs hosted by Goldman Sachs which target under-presented backgrounds in investment banks such as women, LGBT, back, minority, Hispanic/Latin, etc. This is an introductory program for 1-3 days which includes 1st interview round to pipeline internship in the following years. 

Diversity programs are usually easy to network and get an offer because the number of bankers are much more than that in an information session. Specifically, in information sessions at target schools, a banker is surrounded by 20-30 students while in diversity programs, 1 banker is surrounded by 2-3 students which creates in-depth connection opportunities between two sides. Application process usually starts with a resume, an essay talking about your story or opinions about social events.

Banking Prep Networking Guide 

Essential reading for growing and maintaining your network in the Financial industry - access those secretive job openings and win your interview offer!

 
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3.3 Make your Resume and Cover Letter Stand Out and Finance-oriented

Goldman appreciates resumes with key differentiators including achievements in extracurricular activities, community involvement, strong relevant finance experience, and most importantly, strong interpersonal skills. 

One of the biggest mistakes on resumes is candidates simply list their activities, rather than putting their accomplishments. The right resume should be one page long, and all achievements have to be documented in one page.  

Let’s see what Goldman Sachs people said:

 

You’ve got to be really smart, that much is obvious. But there are plenty of people out there with sterling grade point averages. Sandra Hurse – Global co-head of campus recruiting at Goldman Sachs.

If we look at someone with a 4.0 GPA but with no extracurricular activities and compare that person to someone with a 3.6 GPA but who has other skills and commitments, to me, that is a more well-rounded candidate. Sandra Hurse

Recruiters generally look for three key differentiators on your resume.

a. History of excellence (i.e. GPA / test scores, awards & honors, brand name, competition wins, leadership)

Quick fact: Goldman Sachs recommends applicants to submit their SAT scores to increase the chance to pass the application round.

b. Interest for finance, specifically investment banking (i.e. school major, clubs, related coursework)

Relevant Experience (i.e. past finance-related internships, past relatable work experience) 

c. Investment banking internships (i.e. IBD internship) work best.

If your resume is not “bankified”, it will be difficult to get past even the 1st screening round. BankingPrep Resume Toolkit is here to make your resume stand out among the piles of thousands of prominent candidates, and make it finance-oriented even for non-target backgrounds. Your profile will be proofed properly to make sure it has absolutely NO mistakes.

Goldman Sachs online application usually requires a cover letter attached with a resume. Though an investment banking cover letter is thought to be less important than resume and networking, candidates could fail the resume round if he/she creates an inappropriate cover letter.

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3.4 Ace the interview with your story and strong understanding of financial market

What do recruiters evaluate?

Recruiters will evaluate your skills, technical knowledge, and how you are interested in the position you apply for. Many questions are designed to test these competences. Simply put, interview questions will be around 3 main parts:

  • Behavior questions (often asked in HireVue/Phone Interview)
  • Fit questions (Superday/Assessment Centers)
  • Technical questions (Superday/Assessment Centers)

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In which, behavior questions largely resemble fit questions asked during Superday. Some say that HireVues/Phone screen just asks you behavior questions. However, as mentioned above, you can be asked both technical questions and behavior questions right after you proceed to the second round. 

Applicants in Goldman Sachs have to show strong logical reasoning and algorithms. Even if not strong about programming language, interns should show a willing-to-learn mindset. 

How to Prepare and Ace an Interview

Once candidates pass the application round, they will be advanced to the first interview round of the recruiting process. It is akin to a video version of a cover letter. The first interview in Goldman Sachs is quite time-pressure, candidates answer 5 questions with 30 seconds to view each one on the screen and three minutes for each response. They are not allowed to re-record the answers. Technology in Goldman Sachs is genius in which all the answers are evaluated by artificial intelligence without human involvement. 

Final Round: Final round includes a series of interviews in the division they are applying to. Each 30-minute interview will have 2-3 interviewers who are currently working full time in Goldman Sachs. If a candidate wins the final round, offers will come within a day or two of their Superdays.

#1. For fit/behavior questions, this is the part where you tell your stories with interviewers. Thanks to these questions, recruiters will learn how your previous academic and work experience fits into the division/industry you apply for.  

The questions in the first place always surround:

  • Introduce a little bit about yourself  / Walk me through your resume
  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • Your achievements and failures
  • Future plan and why Investment Banking? Why this firm?

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What you should prepare here are crafting your own stories (reflecting your achievements, past experience, transferable skills and leaderships), and backing up small personal stories to answer questions related to strengths and weaknesses. 

If you have some disadvantages in your profile such as low GPA, non-target background, fewer outstanding accomplishments, fewer finance internships, and etc., you have to prepare stronger responses to make up for these “real weaknesses”. 

#2. For technical questions, what you will be interviewed always sticks with accounting, finance, valuations, and practical deals. 

  • Accounting: Financial statements (types of financial statements, links between different types of financial statements), revenues, operating costs, EBITDA, debt & equity, etc.
  • Finance: Equity Investments (stocks), Fixed Income Investments (government bonds, corporate bonds, commodities, currencies) , Derivative Investments (options, futures, forwards, swap), etc.
  • Valuation: Valuation metrics and multiples,  (Discounted Cash Flow, LBO modelling, etc.), knowledge about mergers and acquisitions, etc.

Recruiters would not expect much from an intern in Investment Banking division. Questions are all about basic accounting, finance and valuation. 

Sales and trading recruiters want to test applicants’ knowledge about the market, practical deals and companies.The most important thing is to keep abreast of news about markets, imminent IPO, bond issuances, etc. The questions largely depend on your experience shown on your resume. That means if you present your active involvement in investment/market-related, you might get many questions about it. Visit our Sales and Trading internship article for more practical tips.

3.5 Maximize your performance to convert into full-time role

After receiving an offer to intern in sales and trading, you should try to convert this opportunity into a full-time job. These are the advices should be taken into consideration: 

Update daily news through Wall Street Journal/Bloomberg/Financial Times/Barron. An intern is not always busy, thus spending time making a market brief in one page with bullet points would be helpful for the relationship with other traders. 

First impression is important: In the beginning, formal clothes such as suits or blue/white shirts should be noticed, after 1-2 weeks, you can adapt to other people on your desk. 

Maintaining connection with traders is a key to passing the internship: The lunch time or any other break time are good opportunities to network by self-introduction with other traders, asking tips to maximize performance during the internship. You can take the initiative to ask traders out as they hardly ask you first. When talking with traders, it is necessary to prepare a notebook to keep many insights that they might test you after that. 

 

 

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