How to land a grad job: banking (Goldman Sachs)

Katherine Chan landed the job several thousand others wanted – a research position at Goldman Sachs. Here’s how

Katherine Chan, a third-year Economics student, did the one thing everyone’s being telling us to do for years. She got work experience, and she got it early. Now she’s landed the job several thousand others wanted – a research position at Goldman Sachs. In this two part series, we will look at the route she took into banking, and her experience as a Goldman intern.

Her new position: Business Analyst for Equity Research with Global Investment Research in Europe

So what does that really mean? Well, she’ll be working in Goldman’s Global Investment Research division and over time will develop a specialism for certain stocks, for example packaged food or beverages. “There’s a guy who’s just an expert on beer stocks,” she tells me. However, when she first arrives she’ll more likely be doing client requests and pulling data to support her team.

She’ll be based in London but will spend five weeks in New York training. Some of the perks? A salary almost twice that of the average graduate starting salary, health insurance, a gym, medical centre, and according to Katherine, “an amazing canteen”.

Still interested? Here’s how she did it.

Firstly, she was persistent. Having done the obligatory two-week stint of work experience at 15, she decided that law was definitely not for her. Yet, while most of us became preoccupied with more pressing concerns such as A Levels and adjusting to university life, Katherine continued to hone what career field she was interested in.

An enjoyable month at an investment bank influenced her A Level choices (Maths, Economics, History) as she decided that banking was something she wanted to investigate further, and kick-started her interest in an Economics degree. It was during sixth form that she first also heard about Goldman Sachs – when a teacher recommended an insight day there. While it was only a brief visit, she loved the culture, and from then on recalls that, “everything else was simply a step [to getting there].”

However, it was a year at the Bank of England during her gap year that really got her thinking about what aspects of banking appealed to her.

“[It was] a very different type of finance and I really enjoyed it but I knew it wasn’t something I want to do long term, [however] it was really good as it got me thinking – I enjoyed the finance aspects but I wanted it to be a bit more commercial.”

Her original role wasn’t as glamorous as a gap year at the Bank of England sounds – while the position she applied online “completely on a whim” for was a position in monetary analysis, her actual initial role was as a secretary. However, unusual circumstances meant that Katherine got given more responsibility.

“[My placement] was in 2008 when the financial crisis happened… Because of that I took on a lot more responsibility and by the end of the year I was doing data analysis which was really interesting.”

Despite having accumulated a fair amount of banking experience for a first year university student, Katherine still got rejected at the next stage – ‘spring weeks’. “I applied to all the big names and didn’t get anything.”

For anyone interested in banking, a ‘spring week’ is a one or two-week taster course offered in the Easter holidays by the major banks, and is targeted towards first-years.

While the experience of not getting a spring week, despite appearing a very qualified applicant, was incredibly discouraging, she didn’t let that put her off, pursuing a less traditional route into finance instead.

“I volunteered at Christians Against Poverty and they’re a national debt counselling charity, so it’s a different side of finance. In first year I did that on a weekly basis and I also spent a month working in their head office in Bradford.”

Investment banking though is an undeniably hard area to break into as a young graduate, and this was reflected in Katherine’s next attempt to climb the banking ladder – getting a summer internship. Applying to 15 banks at the start of her second year – she only heard back from one, but one was all she needed.

“It just shows they’re all looking for different things,” Katherine said. “Goldman was the only one I got an interview for and I got the job but I didn’t get interviews anywhere else.”

To be continued…


  1. Wel dun Kat, luv u bbz xoxo

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  2. Wow, this girl sounds like she’s got it sorted, I bet she’s even got a husband on the way! She is an inspiration to us all- you go girl!

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  3. why didnt I listen to all those people telling me to get work experience… they’ve been telling me for years!

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  5. Classic KatChan!

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  6. decided she didnt want to go into law at 15 after obligatory work experience and a bank of england internship in her gap year….so daddy knows somebody. Daddy definitely knows somebody because the bank of england do not do an internship for a secretary role

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  7. Kathrine Chan was in my university and I was told that she had that spirit or being persistent.

    Well done Kathrine, and you still got a bright future ahead.

    A very warning for all of us to make sure that we have to know what we want from our future.

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  8. Hi Chris where do Katherine and you study? is there a list of ‘desired’ universities?

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  9. This is normal though.

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  10. @The Voice – terrible assumption. If you work hard you can get rewarded. I myself got a job in the City on an ACA trainee scheme, with no internship or experience, and I didn’t go travelling (some employers like this) so it is possible. For me it’s all about confidence in the interview stages, you have to make the employer actually want to employ you, not the other way around. All in all though, this girl had her head screwed on early and she’s made it, congratulations to her…I’ve got friends at Goldman and Citi, believe me it’s VERY hard work especially in your early stages. Also if you choose to do qualifications at work don’t expect much time off to study, they work you like a dog for that salary!

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  11. 18 May ’12 at 2:57 pm

    You'd be surprised

    Why on earth are we looking up to someone who’s ended up working for one of the most corrupt and poisonous financial firms in living history? A firm that was found to have been betting against a product (CDO) it was selling to its own clients, no less.

    This article is a sad reflection of the attitude of many undergraduates – particularly in subjects like Economics – that I come across, these days. The attitude has caused this article to be published, with the view being that its subject is someone to look up to, because she’s bagged a well-paid job. This ever more prevalent attitude seems to be summed up by the following: tell me how to get a 65 in my exams, so I can get my 2:1, and meet the key academic criterion for working for a firm that was probably complicit in causing the financial crisis (directly, like GS, or indirectly, like their auditors, which will most probably be one of PWC, KPMG, Deloitte, or EY). Such an attitude has caused the dumbing down of undergraduate degrees. Why do I want to work here and play with Excel all day? The moonay, of course!

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  12. 18 May ’12 at 3:14 pm

    @You'd be suprised.

    True. Getting a 2.1 and working for a city firm is not the be all and end all. In fact it is a pretty mediocre goal. I don’t really think that she has ‘made it’.

    I worked for a city firm in the summer for four months – it was like being back at school (the partners were the headteachers). It was soul destroying, although the money and the canteen food and the extras were amazing. I made a decision never to work for a city firm for any length of time again. Corporate culture is very sexy but its not beautiful.

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  13. 18 May ’12 at 4:07 pm

    Why so bitter? (the voice)

    Why does it even matter if a family member helped her get the internship (which im sure is NOT the case) she still had to put in the hard grind etc. At the end of the day although the old boys network, friends helping friends culture is around, companies will still only hire those who are competent and hard working enough and are an asset to their business, and those who have been given a hand getting through the door still have to pull their weight, businesses are profit makers not charities, and as such they are not going to hire incompetent idiots.

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  14. 18 May ’12 at 9:42 pm

    Robson and Jerome

    Are we meant to be celebrating this climbing of the greasy pole?

    I for one find this article, and this career story, abhorrent. It’s everything that’s wrong with modern society. Individualism, greed and a me me me culture.

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  15. 19 May ’12 at 9:47 am

    @Robson and Jerome

    All I get out of it is that she honed in on what she was really interested in (banking) from a number of, perhaps fortunate, internships. Plus, she volunteered at a debt counselling charity for months whilst doing her degree.

    Please, tell me what part of this article implies that she’s greedy and only cares about herself?

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  16. Working at a charity to get higher up the business ladder? How noble of you…

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  17. 22 May ’12 at 4:31 am

    @Robson and Jerome

    Please tell me where it is implied that she is working at a charity to get higher up the business ladder? That’s right – no where. Shut your trap and stop being jealous. Yes she’s earning a lot. Yes she’ll earn a lot more than you ever will. That does not NECESSARILY make her greedy or individualistic. There is no other reason for putting her down, other than pure jealousy. Zip it and stop being jealous.

    Thank you.

    Comment has been moderated

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  18. @thevoice

    Do not comment on situations you know nothing about. The Bank of England gap year scheme takes on students by application as with any other gap year scheme and there’s no guarantee of what work you may do. They DO put gap year students in positions like secretarial work and the kind of general a-level entry type jobs.
    And this IS coming from someone who knows what they’re talking about, so don’t degrade the achievements of others with your own uniformed, bitter speculations.

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  19. @Andy P – oh dear you think that getting a ACA trainee scheme in the city is the same as a job at GS, no wonder they didn’t take you #overconfident.

    @ # says – fortunately there are no incompetent idiots in the old boys club.

    The charity work experience is impressive. Also interesting she “loved the culture” – a remarkably anti-female one. Congratulations though, all the best for the future.

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  20. 9 Jun ’15 at 12:05 am

    Jasmine Flafel

    Anna Field you go girl tell him with that link!!!!!

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