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Goldman Sachs, Salt Lake City

By Pao-Ho Wan

Political Science majors are often asked, “What can you do with your degree?” The question used to make me wonder, even though I felt it was very useful. One September afternoon in 2009, I asked Dr. Smith this question after class. He replied, “As a Political Science major, your communication skills (both in writing and speaking) and problem-solving analytical skills ensure that you can pretty much do everything you want as long as you know how to sell your strengths.” Since then I’ve felt like I can do anything I want. Because of my new confidence, when Goldman Sachs recruiters came to BYUH in February 2010 for Career Fair, I went over to their table. I spoke with them briefly, submitted my resume, and got selected for an interview the very next day.

The first question the interviewer asked was, “You are not a business major; why do you think you can manage this job?” I explained what I had learned in my major and how I offer a different way of thinking to their firm. I discussed my problem solving and analytical skills and how my Political Science training made me very useful for handling unfamiliar and new tasks. Evidently my efforts to sell them worked. At the end of May, I received an offer to participate in their 2010 Summer Analyst program.

I interned in the Operations Division of the Salt Lake City Goldman Sachs office. The Salt Lake City office is the fastest growing office in the firm. In 2010 they brought in about 110 interns from all over the midwest and western states regions of the U.S. I was assigned to work for the Private Wealth Management Division. During my 10 weeks as an intern, I worked on two projects and handled daily functions for my team. Initially, everything seemed foreign to me. I had no clue about investment banking, and many terms that business students use daily do not even sound like English to me. I took as many notes as possible and asked lots of good questions. These two tips helped me navigate my way through the financial services sector.

The most common weakness interns all share is weak written communication. At work we used email and instant messaging a lot. Knowing how to write a precise and clear email determined how efficiently I could finish my work. At times I had to call people throughout the world to ask them for help on some problem accounts. Knowing how to communicate effectively and politely and efficiently expressing what you want is very important. I had two official performance reviews with my manager. My team manager expressed some concern at my midpoint review of my written communication. Since English is my second language this was a challenge for me. However, I worked hard and as time progressed he saw that my email correspondence had improved tremendously. He said that I was doing a good job replying in a clear and polite way.

For me, the ten-week internship was like a ten-week interview. I constantly reminded myself that I had to be as driven and motivated as on day one. I constantly sought to exceed their expectations and do my absolute best rather than just barely get by to complete what they ask of me. When I did a task, I always sought ways to improve it or do it better. I often asked, what else can I contribute to the team or help my teammates in their daily functions? Some days my project did not make tremendous progress and I didn’t feel that I had accomplished much. I just told myself to shine from the beginning to the end when I left the office. At my final review, my manager claimed, “You are highly driven and motivated. Your performance shows a sense of commitment you have for the firm.”

The summer was amazing, especially since Goldman Sach’s internship program is very well organized. I very much enjoyed working in a multinational cooperation, surrounded by people who are passionate and confident in what they do. Above all, I am happy to have demonstrated my ability to work on unfamiliar projects and use my problem-solving analytical skills. My political science training really made me stand out. My internship provided a great chance to see the outside world and participate in it. As an “intern,” I was given a chance to learn, ask questions, and sometimes make mistakes. I am very happy to be a political science major. It equipped me beautifully to work in the finance sector, even though I was not familiar with it at all before. Apparently the Goldman Sach managers like my skills as well. They offered me a job which I’ll start as soon as I graduate.