I vividly remember the day I got my offer. I was out to lunch with my coworkers in my summer internship when I got a call from a 212 number. Getting the call that I had gotten a summer internship offer from Goldman Investment Banking felt like the best day of my life.
Once I was accepted, I rode high through my junior year of college. Unfortunately, I was also a junior when Covid hit, so my summer internship at GS was virtual. Nevertheless, I made the most of my experience, running Powerpoint and Excel on the desktop in my parent’s kitchen as the lockdown wore on. Every task felt new and exciting, and my first late nights as an intern left me with a deep sense of accomplishment. Zoom coffee chats were starting to get old by the end of the summer, but it was a great way to meet my future coworkers and directors. By the end of the summer, I was fortunate to get a return offer and accepted soon after.
As I went through senior year, I realized that perhaps I had tunnel vision during the recruiting process. I was so focused on getting an offer from GS that I neglected to diligence many of the other banks and didn’t think about the cons of taking my return offer. I thought I was happy because I felt that I had achieved the ultimate achievement. I measured my success through the big name and reputation.
I won’t lie, life as a banking analyst was tougher than everyone had made it out to be. There were bright spots when deals came to fruition, I got positive feedback, or I developed relationships with my coworkers and mentors. But much of that was clouded by the long hours, seemingly endless tasks, and complete lack of control over my time. At the same time, I learned more about financial analysis, communicating with my superiors, and managing my time than ever before, but I paid for that with my time, health, and sometimes my mental sanity.
The point of my story is not to roast Goldman or to paint a picture that investment banking is a terrible path to go down. I truly believe that the time I worked in GS IBD has provided me with invaluable skills for my professional and personal life as well as an incredible network of alumni. If I had to recruit again, though, I don’t know if I would place as much emphasis on the brand name. The folks I met at Goldman seemed to be the best of the best, but would I have felt similarly at another bank?
As I recruited for buyside roles near the end of my time at Goldman, I prioritized looking for a firm with an interesting investment strategy, great culture, and opportunities for me to grow my career in the long-term. Ultimately, I left Goldman IBD because I realized my priorities in life had fundamentally changed. I cared less about constant deal exposure and being in an advisory role and instead wanted to be an investor where I had more control over and contribution to investment decisions. I appreciate that a name like Goldman will serve me well for the rest of my life, but I’m incredibly happy where I am now.
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