1st Impressions Goldman Sachs Trading and Sales
Role: Interest Rate Derivatives Trading / Sales support
Company: Goldman Sachs International
Degree: Economics and Politics
University: University of Edinburgh
Q. Have you received any formal training before starting your job at Goldman Sachs? What were the key skills that you have learned during your training?
We had a structured Graduate program at Goldman Sachs that lasts for 3 years. Analyst Academy starts with 10 days training in New York (with other graduates from all other offices around the world – the same division). This was followed by yearly structured one-week program where we were taught all different skills that were necessary to succeed in our division as well as to succeed in Goldman’s Culture. Skills that we were taught by senior leaders or external consultants involved both hard and soft. (Effective communication / management / leadership/ teamwork/ Capital Markets/ Negotiation/ Presentation making /Project management etc).
Even though there was a structured few days of training, most knowledge and training was received on job. Everyone would get pushed into a deep end – and you would just have to “swim”.
For me the most challenging part was meeting the expectations of managers, as everyone around me wass very intelligent with a lot of great ideas. This meant always pushing myself out of my zone of comfort which was both exciting and challenging
- Always listen and do what you are told
- Ask a lot of questions (never assume)
- Never over promise and under deliver (to management) – stay real with how much you can take on and do not sell yourself short
Q. Describe in brief what happened on your first day at work?
On the first day I was both excited and very nervous. It felt a lot like first day of new school. Two big unknowns that made me nervous: What will people (managers) be like and will they like me?
On the first day my direct manager picked me up from the main reception and went around the whole department introducing me to different people. She then showed me my desk and explained that I need to get accesses to hundreds of different systems and let me start working on those.
Most exciting part was being taken to lunch by my team mates and getting to know them (this lasted for a whole week pretty much)/scariest part was not understanding what I was expected to do and having to ask million questions because everything was unknown to me all the time.
Environment of my team and in general of my company is marked by a lot of hard work, pushing yourself beyond limits, delivering perfection at all times and keeping up with peers that are very intelligent and motivated to succeed.
Q. Did your first week on the job change your initial expectations of your role?
I have to say that I did not really have a clear picture of what my job will entail therefore everything was super exciting for me for the first months of my work. It was a steep learning curve and I have constantly learned new things. I did expect to be delivering coffee and lunches to my Boss as a newbie however that never really happened. I have very quickly learned a lot about interest rate derivatives, about the risk management and how to talk to traders. I would say that the only negative aspect of my role is that it is processing heavy.
Q. Most embarrassing incident on your first week?
By nature I am enthusiastic and really motivated person and that is sometimes also reflected in my tone of voice. I was told pretty much for the whole week to tone down as my voice was obstructing my manager’s work (I was sitting right next to her). She also made some post-its for my screens saying- “Shh”, “Quiet” and “Pinch yourself” so that I remember to contain my excitement.
Q. Imagine one of your friends was starting your graduate scheme at Goldman Sachs, what advice would you give him/her?
- Go out and meet people that you support in person – make yourself known to them so that you became their “go-to person” right at the beginning. Also meet as many senior people as you can since this is your only opportunity to ever be exposed to them
- Attention to detail is very important as it is bread and butter of managing risk
- Never assume what you don’t know, ask questions
- Work hard and listen to your leaders’ advices
Q. Which task made you most nervous during your first week of work?
I was most nervous using our main risk systems to amend live trades. Firstly I did not understand much about Interest Rate derivatives and Secondly I did not know how the risk systems operated – this made me quite nervous. Even though I was first given non-risky amendments to do, the fact that any little accidental click of a button/mouse could cause traders live risk to move was quite overwhelming.
Q. What did you enjoy the most during your first week at Goldman Sachs?
I loved meeting all of my colleagues and my assigned “buddy” that was responsible for my training. Everyone seemed really interesting and smart. I was situated on the trading floor with all IRD and FX traders/sales and got to meet most of them during my first week and that was very cool. Floor was always buzzing and you could always hear a lot of interesting conversations. As a new joiner you get to be taken out for lunch with a different colleague from your team every day to a new place around so that you get to know them and get to know the environment around the office building.
Q. What is the thing that you dislike the most about your job?
I have to admit that even though my work started at 8am, we would normally stay very late (at least one and half hour after all traders/sales have left). Since it is the OTC market this would be until 8-9PM which made my days quite long and also very hectic/stressful throughout the day. Sometimes I would be “stuck” on the desk not being able to leave for 5-10 mins (to toilet or to go and pick up lunch).
Q. Top tip for your friend facing a final round interview, could you share it with us please?
It is very important to just be yourself. By this point it is obvious that you are smart enough and that your potential new teammates like you. Interviews should be a two way process (as much as it is important for them to like you, that much it is important that you like your potential new employers). Ask as many questions as you can to get as much honest information about what the job entails and what it would be like for you as a new starter. During the interview process you get asked some difficult questions – ask the same back in order to make the interviewer think a little bit himself/herself as well. Those are the candidates that get remembered. Do not ask obvious generic questions for the sake of it. Personalize it and also do not be afraid to put the interviewer on the spot a little bit as well – they do it to you all the time.
Q. Do you often have après work drinks with your colleagues? Have you got any interesting stories from your work outings you would like to share with us?
Every Thursday our team would be going to a local pub for after work drinks. Also, if some colleague would be leaving then we would always go for the leaving drinks. My team would always go to the bars around work so I got to go to many bars in East London that otherwise I wouldn’t go to.
Q. Three words to describe your first impressions of Goldman Sachs.
Hard Working. Strong culture. Challenging