Culture and Talent

How Goldman Sachs is building relationships with young talent through its summer internship program

  • We explore the design of Goldman's summer internships, covering everything from the hiring process and training to the challenges of finding the right talent while aiming to meet the younger generation’s expectations through it all.
  • Omer Tanvir, global head of campus and diversity recruiting at Goldman Sachs also highlights how the Wall Street bank is pursuing a measured approach to AI across three pillars.
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How Goldman Sachs is building relationships with young talent through its summer internship program

One of the key structural changes in the financial services industry today is the move toward flexible or remote work arrangements that took off during the Covid-19 pandemic. While this remains a hotly debated topic, with traditional banks generally resisting the change, institutions like Synchrony are cementing remote work as a permanent option. 

Traditional incumbent FIs are also stepping up their game to remain relevant, especially with the younger generation, albeit through different strategies. This is the direction that Goldman Sachs [GS] is taking with its summer internship program.

Goldman Sachs is focusing on offering skill-building opportunities to aspiring professionals through its internship programs. We explore the design of Goldman’s summer internships, covering everything from the hiring process and training to the challenges of finding the right talent who can potentially grow into a professional role while aiming to meet the younger generation’s expectations through it all.

Goldman Sachs’ summer internship program structure explained

Goldman Sachs 2024 summer internship program kicked off on June 10 in New York, featuring 2,700 new hires out of 315,126 applications, which equates to a 0.9% acceptance rate. About 40% of the 2024 class comes from STEM majors. The program is structured on a rolling basis, with the internship concluding on August 9 for some interns based in the Americas and on August 16 for others.

The global internship program aims to provide young professionals with a foundation for a career in banking or other professional services industries. Interns begin with pre-program training on financial markets, modeling, and business applications, and a detailed orientation in their first week to prepare for their summer roles. It’s a five-day-a-week in-the-office role during which interns receive hands-on training, helping them expand their financial services expertise and practical knowledge and build relationships with experts, clients, and firm leaders.

“Our interns work on real-world, complex issues for the firm’s clients,” Omer Tanvir, global head of campus and diversity recruiting at Goldman Sachs told me.

Expanding on whether interns participate in internal operations, take on customer-facing roles, or manage both, Tanvir explained, “We have interns embedded into all aspects of the firm – from our Global Banking & Markets and Asset & Wealth Management businesses to engineering and operations – where they work hands-on every day to serve our clients.”

Interns are integrated into the firm through the One Goldman Sachs ethos. OneGS is the firm’s cross-business strategy for breaking down silos between business lines to provide a more cohesive and integrated approach to client service. 

“We bring the same operating mindset to our interns by showcasing all firm businesses, client spotlights, and community service through an educational series,” Tanvir said. “They [interns] can also participate in our inclusion network events and intern career expos that provide access to further opportunities across the firm.”

Eligibility criteria and the internal selection process: Goldman Sachs’ intern selection process involves evaluating several factors, with a strong emphasis on diversity and cultural compatibility with the company, according to Tanvir.

Interns checking in — Photo Credits: Goldman Sachs

Each year, the bank chooses interns from more than 500 global universities, who advance to the interview stage after their application passes the screening process. To help students get acquainted with careers in financial services and the internship interview process ahead of time, the bank hosts various events on campus, at its offices, and virtually throughout the year.

The interview process is structured to evaluate applicants in three key areas:

  • Candidates’ alignment with Goldman Sachs’ core values of client service, partnership, and teamwork
  • Their role-specific knowledge for the division they are applying to 
  • Communication skills

Who trains interns? “Training is incumbent upon all of us at the firm through several touchpoints,” noted Tanvir. “We have training sessions that precede interns hitting the desk as well as those held throughout the program.”

Traditional banks often have a distinct managerial hierarchy in their branch structures. Goldman Sachs also underscores the value of the manager relationship, guiding interns to have regular touchpoints with their direct managers.

NY former intern panel — Photo Credits: Goldman Sachs

The summer apprenticeship is meant to offer challenges that develop skills while also being rewarding enough to keep interns motivated, similar to how a teacher’s approach combines discipline with encouragement. Keeping this in mind, interns are assigned both a buddy and a mentor to guide them throughout the internship. 

“Interns are encouraged to grow their network across the organization, with alumni from their universities often playing a key role in facilitating connections and offering informal support,” Tanvir added.

The cultural fit: Receiving more than 300,000 applications from over 500 international universities means assessing candidates with a wide array of backgrounds, talents, and levels of adaptability. This raises a key question: How does Goldman Sachs corroborate that the chosen candidates are a good cultural fit for the organization?

“It all starts with our recruitment process. We attract candidates and strive to hire interns – and any hire, really – who embody our core values,” Tanvir said.

The internship period also acts as a time to assess these qualities in candidates, while providing them feedback on their performances through formal and informal interactions. This approach helps to clarify performance expectations, identify areas for improvement, and highlight growth opportunities.

“This way, interns and managers can clearly see their evolution from start to finish,” he noted.

Reflecting on the five-day-a-week office attendance expectation for interns, Tanvir emphasized the significance of company culture to the overall intern experience. Company surveys show this is also a favored choice among interns, likely because they are new to the banking world and want to gain firsthand learning and experience.

These surveys are aimed at collecting feedback from interns, to place equal importance on their experiences at the firm just as much as the bank’s expectations of them. In 2023, the bank sought to understand better which types of interactions benefit most from being in-person, as they transitioned beyond the pandemic. The survey results showed that their apprenticeship culture aligns with the 87% of respondents who value in-person work for coaching, training, and spontaneous connections.

“Every year, we survey our intern class and over the years, we’ve learned that 99% of respondents believe relationships are best formed in person,” Tanvir said. 

This requirement of office attendance for interns is synonymous with the bank’s decision to reinstate its back-to-office model 5 days a week for its regular employees starting last year.

The younger generation’s expectations and Goldman’s response

An internship can be a stepping stone to explore opportunities for a full-time role in the firm, but it does not guarantee permanent full-time employment. Additionally, it’s a reciprocal situation: while the bank aims to hire the cream of the crop, the young talent has also developed their own preferences they look for in a job or employer. 

Even for well-established names in the industry, attracting top talent is not a given and requires more than just being a strong brand name. Creating products and services for the younger generation is already a hot topic of discussion, with financial firms grappling with how to connect with Gen Z. Similar to their expectations for financial products, this generation also has particular expectations for how established banks approach hiring practices and career opportunities.

The program includes sessions that showcase the diverse career paths of individuals at the firm and within the industry, offering interns a practical understanding of the things to learn and the mistakes to avoid for a long-lasting career. The bank believes that Gen Z values this kind of professional insight and guidance for their career development.

Goldman Sachs also recognizes Gen Z’s eagerness to drive the organization’s mission forward through their own contributions. The bank offers the Community TeamWorks global volunteering initiative to interns, where the younger generation can use their time and talents to support non-profits to make a tangible difference. There are broader opportunities of this nature for those who transition to full-time roles at the bank.

Envisioning what’s next

Goldman Sachs views AI as a leading trend that will shape the future growth and evolution of the financial services sector. A 2023 survey of interns conducted by the bank revealed that 86% use AI tools in their personal lives, and 34% believe AI will have the most significant global impact in the next ten years. 

To keep up with industry-wide technological advancements as well as maintain relevance with the younger demographic, Tanvir highlights that the Wall Street bank is pursuing a measured approach to AI across three pillars: 

  • Driving business growth and enhancing client experience
  • Improving developer productivity
  • Increasing operating efficiencies

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