Connor's Summer at Goldman Sachs
Connor works in the Equities Technology Group in our Technology Division in New York. He is a rising senior at the University of Michigan majoring in computer science with a minor in entrepreneurship.
TAKING CONTROL OF MY INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE
24 AUG 2015 - NEW YORK
The first time I started thinking seriously about what career path I might take was during the 2008 financial crisis. Big banks were facing a lot of criticism in the press and it shaped my early impressions of the industry. Although I knew I was interested in Goldman Sachs’ work, particularly in tech, I wasn’t sure how the culture would stack up against the world I’d been shown by the media. I can now say my experience has been nothing like the media’s portrayal of life at a financial institution. As employees, we measure the value of our work not just through returns but also through the personal experience of our clients, be they internal or external. My manager invests a lot of time in my career and future and I’ll be very sad to leave him and my team at the end of the internship.
One of the striking similarities between a corporate environment and a college environment is that you have to be proactive to get the most out of it. In college, if you want to hang out with people you need to make an effort because there is so much going on and people are preoccupied. Work is the same way. If you want to get involved with a project or you want to have coffee with a senior leader, you need to make it happen. This doesn’t mean being a pest. But being successful requires taking the time to be actively involved. Of course, I could go to the library every day at school, plug in my headphones, and pass my classes. I could come to my desk every day, plug in my headphones, and complete my requirements. But you have to step outside of that routine in order to make the most of the experience - creating, contributing and becoming part of a community. I didn’t expect this similarity coming in but I’m very happy with how important being engaged and interactive has been to my daily experience.
LIVING AND VOLUNTEERING OUTSIDE THE OFFICE
30 JUL 2015 - NEW YORK
Having been raised in the Midwest, coming to NY was initially a very big change. But seven weeks later, I have gone to many museums, concerts, coffee shops and a vast number of restaurants and I don’t feel as out of place. It’s been amazing to see just as many people waking up bright-eyed at 5 A.M. as there are going to sleep and I’ve discovered a peaceful side to the city as well – I like to spend spare time reading in the park. The most valuable thing I’ve done though, is to maintain and build friendships. The people around me at Goldman share the same sort of drive and passion for life so I’ve enjoyed building professional relationships here and carrying them over to life outside of work. Having people to honestly share my experiences with has helped immensely in feeling comfortable in the city.
This past weekend was an opportunity to join some of those new friends and give back to the community. I went to my Community TeamWorks, the “Family Fun Carnival” at the Bushwick Family Residence in Brooklyn, a transitional shelter for homeless families. The day started with an intense game of Battleship® with a vivacious soon-to-be eight-year-old named Benjamin. I then spent the next three hours wiping my brow as I stood over the heat of a huge charcoal grill preparing over 100 burgers and hotdogs for the kids with varying degrees of success. Though the happiness of the kids was the day’s main goal, what struck me most was how grateful the woman who ran the Family Residence was. She thanked us repeatedly for our involvement, and expressed her thanks for Goldman Sachs as a whole for partnering with them for a number of years now. It showed how important CTW is to the many people whose lives are made better by the program along with some of our other global programs such as 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses, something I didn’t fully understand until I got to be a part of it.
OVERCOMING CHALLENGES THROUGH LEARNING
15 JUL 2015 - NEW YORK
My name is Connor and I work in Engineering – Technology Division – at Goldman Sachs’ 200 West Street headquarters. Here at Goldman it seems like everyone I meet is much better than me at many things, especially in Technology where there are always new technologies you don’t know or features of a language you hadn’t yet heard of. It’s the same feeling I had when I took my first programming class in college and I had never even seen an “if statement” before. I found it comforting when one of our orientation speakers said, “Working at Goldman is like taking an upper level class that you haven’t taken the pre-requisites for, and still somehow managing to get a B+”. It resonated with me then and still does now. Everyone here is constantly learning and bettering themselves.
Though I can’t speak for other divisions, in Tech there have been more training sessions than you could possibly attend. One such session that has had a surprising impact on my time here was on Hadoop®. For those that aren’t familiar with Hadoop, at a high level it’s an open-source software project that is very good at dealing with the increasingly popular world of “Big Data”. Soon after the training my manager asked if I could explain what my understanding of the technology was and whether it might be useful for my project.
Well, here we are weeks later, my project uses Hadoop, and just last week I gave a presentation to my entire team helping to teach them about it. Hadoop has been almost constantly on my mind and learning it has been painstaking and rewarding work. Luckily that introductory session gave me a powerful framework for starting my relationship with the friendly yellow baby elephant.