I loved my Goldman Sachs internship in Singapore, but it was a bit too structured

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Internship application deadlines at Goldman Sachs in Singapore are now looming for 2019. If you’re considering applying to spend next summer at Goldman, let me tell you a bit more about my experience there in 2017.

You might want to first read my original article about my internship, in which I described the great support that the bank gives to its interns. In comparison to the internship I did this year at a European bank in Hong Kong, Goldman gave me far better access to business tools like Bloomberg, for example.

Goldman took its internship programme a lot more seriously and this was reflected in the attitudes of the full-time staff – they were pretty much always willing to talk to me. I found the hierarchy of Goldman, at least here in Singapore, to be remarkably flat.

But there was a downside to my 2017 Goldman internship that I didn’t mention in my previous article: it was just a bit too structured and well organised for its own good.

Goldman’s HR people and bankers put a lot of effort into organising their internships so you learn the basics of the job (in whatever team you’re assigned to) within a ‘safe environment’. The work I did was mainly project-based – I didn’t get to work in real time on deals. In that way, I could make mistakes and they wouldn’t matter so much (at least to the firm), but I never really got to experience the thrill (and challenge) of the deal.

The European bank I worked for this summer, by contrast, has a smaller presence in Singapore than Goldman and doesn’t arrange its internship training so precisely. I was thrown into my summer role there from day one and my team needed me to help on live deals (under supervision)This wasn’t formal training, arranged for my sake (and to see if I could cut it as a full-timer in the future) – the bank actually needed my help right there and then!

Goldman organised wonderful networking events and arranged for its most senior Singapore bankers to talk to us interns. But the European bank let me go to client visits, in which its bankers discussed real transactions. I even got to make a few client calls.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved almost every minute of my Goldman internship – but it’s good to keep in mind that you might not get the hands-on experience you were hoping for if you intern there. You will still need to work very hard to succeed next summer at Goldman, but it will be within a very controlled environment.

Josie Lei (not her real name) is a student at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore who's just done a summer internship at a European bank in Hong Kong. She spent the summer of 2017 at Goldman Sachs.

Image credit: AndreyPopov, Getty

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