Nina Associate, Equity Convertibles Investment Banking division, London

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Be keen to learn, ask questions and listen. As a new intern or analyst, the experience is only worth as much as you put in.

Background

I read Chemistry at Oxford University and originally thought my degree would propel me into academia. Curiosity got the better of me, and I spent a few days on the Goldman Sachs Spring Program, which led to a summer internship and ultimately a returning offer as an Analyst. While I still miss the intellectual challenge of science, I quickly realized that lab research was not for someone as impatient as I am and that Goldman Sachs offered a route to a new challenge.

The Application Process

When I initially applied, my main concern was whether my non-finance-related background would hinder my application. Surprisingly, at interviews it often proved to work in my favor, and the transferable skillsets have been invaluable to my job. Despite reading up on WACC analyses and DCFs the night before, I found that my interviewer seemed more keen to assess my ability to think on my feet (e.g. “Estimate the value of the tie industry in the UK”) and to see whether I had a genuine interest in finance (e.g. “Discuss a deal you have read about recently”). The hardest question was probably, “Who is the most famous and influential person you would like to meet and why?” I responded with a scientist and not any of the world’s most famous economists!

Starting Out at Goldman Sachs

Three things I learned when I started here:

  1. Be keen to learn, ask questions and listen. As a new intern or analyst, the experience is only worth as much as you put in.

  2. Never say you understand something if you don’t; it is only a matter of time before you get found out!

  3. Treat everyone who works with you with respect and it will make your job a lot easier. 

Career Development

I have been formally paired with mentors in the past who have offered invaluable insight to their own careers as well as advice on how to navigate areas that may not be appropriate to discuss with teammates, such as the review process or mobility. I think mentoring certainly helps provide a different and independent perspective outside of your immediate team.

As a first year associate, I think my focus will primarily be on stepping up from the analyst role of taking care of the details to providing a broader perspective on convertible financing. Aside from increasing client contact, I also believe the role will evolve to thinking more about the appropriate financing solutions for our clients and assuming greater responsibility for convertible bond execution.

Teamwork

The people I work with have been the most influential part of my time at Goldman Sachs. I have always been impressed by the number of colleagues who have taken time to teach me about new products, explain various concepts or share their experiences to help guide my own career. Without the support and immense focus on teamwork at the firm, as well as the high level of responsibility and respect people attribute to my work, the firm would be a lot less enjoyable place to work.

Affinity Networks

The Investment Banking Division/Merchant Banking Division Women’s Network has introduced me to a variety of my counterparts across these groups, which has not only helped broaden my network on a day-to-day basis but also expanded my knowledge of the multitude of roles and opportunities across the firm. Through a series of formal and informal events, it has given me the chance to listen to and network with some of the most senior members of the firm. The group has also invited influential external speakers, who have offered invaluable insight into effective career management over the long term.

Giving Back

During my summer internship, we spent one day on a Community TeamWorks project, clearing a woodland to facilitate wheelchair access at a National Trust site in Cambridgeshire. I have tried to return each year to both follow its evolution and also help develop other areas of the property, such as creating an open-air theatre space in a small clearing. Our firm’s continued involvement has enabled the site to open up access to otherwise overgrown parts of the land and create additional areas for the community’s use.
 

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