Getting an internship at Goldman Sachs is no easy task. This year, roughly 17,000 people applied for its investment banking summer internship program, according to Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn. Just 350 interns were hired.
So what’s the key to finding the golden ticket? You’ve got to be really smart, that much is obvious. But there are plenty of people out there with sterling grade point averages, said Sandra Hurse, global co-head of campus recruiting at Goldman Sachs. The key differentiators are extracurriculars, community involvement and, perhaps most importantly, strong people skills.
“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,” Hurse said.
A targeted resume can also help get your foot in the door. One of the biggest mistakes Hurse sees on resumes is when candidates simply list their activities, rather than documenting their achievements.
“People undersell themselves by not putting all their accomplishments and telling the full story,” she said. “A one page resume is fine, but make sure you are listing all your accomplishments in that one page.”
Goldman Sachs’s 10-week summer internship is serious business for the firm. Goldman uses the program as the major feeder for its full-time analyst and associate programs. “If we can fill 100% of our hiring needs from our summer internship program, we will.”
As such, Goldman puts their interns right to work and evaluates daily. “Though interns have a week of training, most of their experience is not done in a classroom, but on the desk,” Hurse said. “Interns work with full-time analysts and senior people in their divisions so they get a sense of how the team operates.”
The end goal for most interns is to parlay the experience into a full-time offer. To succeed, interns need to show their bosses more than just their intellect – they also need to prove their people skills.
One of the bigger mistakes an intern can make is by keeping their head down and just doing their work, Hurse said. “As an intern, you need to pick your head up and build a network,” she said. “It’s a relationship-driven business, and we need people who can prove that they are capable of building relationships.”
Harvey Schwartz, Goldman’s CFO, recently said the firm has experienced some “recruiting tailwinds,” with more people wanting to work there. The competition is only getting tougher. You have to walk-the-walk, obviously, but it appears you also have to talk-the-talk. Polish up those relationship-building skills.
Other intern tips from Goldman Sachs:
1. Speak and act with confidence
2. Have your elevator speech prepared – talk about your experience and your contributions in 2 minutes or less
3. Build a network – meet with peers and professionals outside of your immediate area
4. Be proactive
5. Communicate – be clear and impactful, know the message you are trying to deliver
6. Understand the business and how it contributes to the firm’s success
7. Don’t be afraid to take a risk
8. Under promise and over deliver
9. Be yourself