Zeina's Summer at Goldman Sachs

Summer 2015

Zeina is interning in the Global Mobility Services Group in Human Capital Management (HCM) in Salt Lake City, Goldman Sachs’ second largest office in the United States. Originally from Abu Dhabi, she is now a rising senior at the University of Rochester studying business and English literature.



As I approach the end of my summer internship I find myself reflecting on the entire experience. I know a number of people who interned with Goldman Sachs in the past and they all told me that I would walk out feeling changed by the experience. I found that hard to believe. How could 10 weeks be enough to have that type of impact? Yet they were right. 

I think the best thing about interning at Goldman Sachs is that all of the things you learn can be applied much more broadly. I learned when I should focus on listening versus when I should voice my opinion. I learned about the importance of consensus building. I learned that while perfection is difficult to attain, it’s worth striving for. However, I think the most important thing that I learned is the importance of hard work. Everyone in this firm is where they are because of the amount of effort and hard work that they put in to their jobs. I find that both daunting and extremely exciting.

Interning here has been incredible. I am excited to take all of the valuable things that I have learned and apply them during my final year in school.




The interns in each division are given a project to work on with each other, in addition to our day-to-day work. For HCM interns, the project is to take part in a debate in front of a large audience of HCM employees. You can imagine the apprehension I felt when we were first told about it, but it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the internship.

The debate topics are all timely subjects for the firm; in our case the topic was using fun perks to aid in employee retention. It was really incredible to be part of the firm’s discussion around being an employer of choice for talented young people.

Preparing our argument was a huge team effort. The Salt Lake City interns partnered with interns in New York (we joined the actual debate by video conference), so we stayed connected through email and phone. People throughout the firm encouraged us to approach them in order to research discussion points. Our team members also took time out of their days to listen to us rehearse and give advice that was useful not only for the debate but also for our future development.

The nerves did not really set in until I walked into the room, and it dawned on me just how large my face would be up on the screens in New York. I started to think about all the different ways I could mess up. My hands were shaking by the time we sat down to present, and I was afraid people would hear the thumping of my heart through the microphone. But the beauty of Goldman Sachs is the collaborative environment—everyone wants you to succeed. When I saw the looks of encouragement and confidence on the faces of my manager and team members, my nerves turned into excitement, and I felt ready to debate!

As I watched the different teams debate, I thought of the Goldman Sachs business principle, "Our people are our most important asset." With both sides thoughtfully presenting their arguments and demonstrating such respect for their opponents, I realized how true this was. It didn't matter that this was a debate – everyone came away a winner.




In addition to what happens inside of Goldman Sachs, my internship experience has been closely tied to what happens outside the office. Seeing as a number of us have relocated for the ten weeks, we have the opportunity to take advantage of the interesting cities that we are living in for the summer. I am currently in the Salt Lake City office and  I was a little nervous about relocating because I did not know anyone else coming here. But there is so much to do here including hiking, camping, going to the theater, exploring the interesting local culture and history, and countless other things. The other interns and I have yet to experience a weekend without something exciting to do, and it’s always nice to have different activities to look forward to after a busy week of working and learning. While work is important, finding that ideal balance is equally important to thrive and be happy.

Being in the Salt Lake City office has also shown me the strength and consistency of the global aspects of the culture. My training was held in the New York office and, for some reason, I expected the SLC office to operate differently. On the plane ride over, I prepared myself to readjust, once again, to a whole new environment. However, the two offices operate in the same way and I have had many opportunities to connect with fellow interns and colleagues not only in New York, but in Goldman Sachs offices all over the world. It’s wonderful to see the vast connectivity of Goldman Sachs' network, and the many people I can reach out to and learn from.



Today marks the beginning of my fourth week as a Goldman Sachs intern with the HCM Division in Salt Lake City. I am so happy to be working in a bustling city that has so much to offer where we can see the beautiful backdrop of the Utah mountains through the office windows. I cannot believe how fast the time is passing so I am trying to take advantage of all the learning opportunities available within the firm, and to get to know and learn from as many people as possible.

I’ve also now had time to reflect on how the perceptions I had about working at Goldman Sachs prior to joining the firm match up with the reality. Coming into the firm, I was afraid certain stereotypes regarding investment banks would prove to be true. All I can say is that Goldman Sachs has flung those stereotypes out the window for me. The culture here is extremely supportive, and I look at every single employee as a potential teacher. Your success is important to your entire team which creates an environment of kindness, support, and people constantly pushing and challenging you to better both your work and yourself. I cannot imagine a better place to be.

I will end this post by referring to my university’s motto: Meliora. It means “ever better”, and I think that is a beautiful sentiment that every person should work to pursue. I feel that when I come into work I am being provided with the right tools to make my work and myself ever better.