Caterina's Summer at Goldman Sachs
Caterina works in the FX Trading & Sales Technology Group in the New York office of Goldman Sachs’ Technology Division. Originally from the Dominican Republic, she is studying industrial engineering at Georgia Tech.
MY FAVORITE DAYS FROM THE INTERNSHIP
15 SEP 2015 - NEW YORK
A regular day involves getting into the office in the morning, making a to-do list for the day, attending our morning catch-up meeting, and then getting to work on my project. But there are some days when meetings or special events interrupt this daily routine, and these have been the most interesting days so far.
One of the highlights was a coding competition that allowed me to work with interns in my division – whom I had not interacted with before – on a fun, work-related task in an informal setting. Another highlight was meeting the clients who would be using the application I was working on, showing them what we built and hearing their feedback. It was extremely motivating to see the client’s interest and support for what I had been working on for over a month.
The most memorable event was my Community TeamWorks project. We organized games and served food for a small group of kids at a family home. The faces of the kids, their parents, and the organization’s employees lit up with happiness.
The opportunities offered during the internship, on and away from the desk, make the program a unique experience.
REFLECTING ON HOW MUCH I'VE LEARNED
20 AUG 2015 - NEW YORK
The first week of my internship I was presented with the project I would be working on for the rest of the summer, which was to build the back-end server of a web application that would be regularly used by a sales desk. I would be working with another intern who was going to design and implement the client-side of what my server provided. At that point I was eager to start working on it, but also very confused about how to accomplish the task. Using resources such as chat rooms, online discussion posts and feedback from other employees helped me finish my project.
When I look back now to the first couple of days I realize how much I have learned. On the technical side, it’s been a journey from not knowing how a server is built (check out my first post), to building one for a website currently used by the sales desk. Early on I had trouble explaining the issues I was having, but by researching the topic on my own first, I could ask clearer, more pointed questions. Another learning experience was working across divisions with the intern handling the client-side of the application. Although we split up the roles in a way where most of the actual coding was independent, we would still constantly update each other to stay on the same page. This was definitely one of the most unexpected aspects of the internship and it taught me to communicate and collaborate effectively. What seemed like a big challenge a few weeks ago now feels like an accomplishment and a great learning experience.
WHAT MY PERFORMANCE REVIEW TAUGHT ME ABOUT ASKING QUESTIONS
27 JUL 2015 - NEW YORK
As the internship progresses, I find myself constantly looking back at all the advice I heard from speakers during orientation: make connections, work hard on your project and, the most mentioned advice, ask a lot of questions. Speakers always tell us that you can never ask too many questions and that we should ask even if we think we’ll sound lost. I didn’t really believe them. I knew it was inevitable that I’d ask questions, but I thought there was no way that every moment was an appropriate time for questions and that it would be disrespectful of people’s time to constantly ask for explanations. For the first couple of weeks, I asked many questions, more than I would like to be asked myself! But I was aware of the timing and whether I thought my buddy or teammate was too busy at the time and saved questions to be asked later.
Surprisingly, during my informal review, I received feedback that I should ask more questions. I was trying to get questions answered and processes explained at the appropriate times but others around me perceived my waiting for the right moment as a fear of stepping up and being honest about what I didn’t know. I changed my approach and quickly noticed that asking a question in the moment results in a more complete, relevant answer than when the question is asked out of context later on. Most importantly, I found that it showed the person I was talking to that I was listening and interested in learning more.
HOW I CONQUERED SELF-DOUBT
09 JUL 2015 - NEW YORK
On my first day at Goldman Sachs, I had no idea what to expect. I entered orientation partially excited, but also extremely nervous. I had been recruited for the Technology Division months ago, and remembered clearly the doubts I had at the moment of accepting the offer, hesitating if I was even capable of taking on a role contributing to the development of a web app. Meeting a couple of interns only made it worse. It seemed like everyone going into the Technology Division had a computer science background.
Coming from an industrial engineering background, I knew I would be at a slight technical disadvantage. I feared that this disadvantage would be too significant to work through and would prevent me from being successful during the program. Instead of continuing to worry, however, I took a deep breath, thought of everything I could offer in my role, and survived the two days of orientation.
It only took a day or so at the desk for the worries and doubts I had to disappear. During the first two weeks I was continuously surprised of the amount of support I was offered: countless trainings, learning sessions and, most importantly, many opportunities to meet and have conversations with other employees at the firm. In addition to constant conversations with my manager and buddy, quick personal connections were surprisingly easy to make with other employees. Two employees reached out during the first couple of days to meet up for coffee and a quick conversation. This encouraged me to actively reach out to people I had an interest in meeting, especially other female and Hispanic professionals. All of these individuals have offered their support and have given me insight on what it is like to work at Goldman Sachs from different perspectives.
The insecurities and doubts I felt at the beginning of the internship were quickly overshadowed by a feeling of confidence and support. I translated my doubts into questions and interests that have become learning experiences through the network I have quickly built. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer will have to offer, both as a technical challenge and as a great learning experience!