Naomi O’Halloran is still a senior at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business, but already, she’s secured a job at Goldman Sachs at their New York City headquarters as an Internal Audit Analyst.
“I heard about Goldman Sachs growing up not only because it was a huge bank and a prominent industry player,” she says. “My dad has his own company in bankruptcy consulting working with distressed companies and he often talked about work at home.”
In fact, the business administration major who has a concentration in accounting, with a minor in French, interned for her dad one summer, and said the experience really peaked her interest in the industry and kickstarted her passion in accounting.
PREPPING FOR GOLDMAN SACHS
O’Halloran first reached out to Goldman Sachs in September last year, and two weeks later, was invited to join in a digital interview.
But way before applying, O’Halloran had begun working to build up a stellar resume and background. A graduate of the Atlanta International School, O’Halloran was already coaching a swim team and working as a lifeguard. In her first summer as a business major, she interned as a financial analyst at Newbridge Management LLC, and the following year, she went on to do a co-op as a global procurement analyst with The Coca-Cola Company.
Two weeks after she completed the digital interview, O’Halloran was invited to an in-person Superday with Goldman Sachs in their New York headquarters. She was flown to New York the night before her interview and completed multiple interviews the following day at their headquarters with a variety of Vice Presidents and Managing Directors from the Internal Audit team. Another two weeks later, a recruiter got in touch with her to tell her that the firm was offering her an 11-week internship.
“I was incredibly excited and honored,” O’Halloran recalls. “Working for a company like Goldman Sachs, especially in their global headquarters in New York City, is an incredible opportunity and to be selected was extremely humbling.”
CRAMMING FOR THE END OF A QUARTER
To start off her internship, she attended a week-long orientation program that began with an overall introduction to Goldman Sachs before focusing on a division-specific orientation. O’Halloran says her day-to-day work was constantly changing, something she really enjoyed because no two days were the same and the constantly evolving environment provided a challenge.
Even as she was presented with various challenges every day, there was one week in particular that she recalls as being especially difficult. “The week that Q2 (Quarter Two) was ending was very hectic — being able to experience it for myself while also watching and learning from all those around me was very important,” she says. “Seeing how everyone handled the stress and work involved taught me what worked and what could have been handled better. It allowed me to develop my personal skills on handling stress and working with others to see assignments through to the end.”
With all the hurdles she had to learn to jump over, she said the challenges were accompanied with a tremendous amount of guidance and mentorship. The attention was helpful to her as an indicator of how much the firm invested and cared for their interns.
“From the specific business team I was assigned to, to the managing directors of the division, everyone had a vested interest in our individual success and growth, not only in the internship but also personally which was very meaningful for me,” O’Halloran said.
WINNING THE INTERN SHARK TANK PROJECT
Over the 11 weeks, she had many intense and memorable moments with her team, but the most memorable, she says, was when they took part in the Intern Shark Tank Project. In the project, all the interns within the division were divided into three groups to come up with ideas that would positively impact the division. The groups then presented their ideas to the Executive Leadership Table and the ideas they picked had to create finalized product prototypes that they presented to the global division in Goldman Sachs.
“After the three presentations, the entire division voted on the spot for the best idea to be developed. My group’s idea won,” she says. “It had been a very challenging project to work on throughout the entire internship and winning was definitely a cherry on top.”
The experience was particularly memorable, O’Halloran adds, because she got a chance not only to work with others, but to develop technical skills, and enhance her presentation skills.
FAST-PACED, HIGH STRESS
Of course, Goldman Sachs isn’t the place for everyone. Like picking a school, fit matters in an early career as well. O’Halloran says that she really enjoyed the culture of Goldman Sachs and the fast-paced environment. Of course, she was also encouraged to stay for the potential career growth at Goldman Sachs.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the work itself, and the people I had the opportunity to work with. Working for a company like Goldman Sachs in the financial services industry that is growing through a significant amount of change presents an incredible opportunity to learn as I embark on my career,” O’Halloran says. “I want to be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as I possibly can and take that with me as I proceed along my career path.”
In five years time, she hopes to be in the process of getting her MBA from a top business school, perhaps Scheller, if they’ll have her, she jokes. But before heading back to business school, she says she hopes to work abroad for at least a year, and she’s looking at Europe or Asia.
After graduating in December this year, O’Halloran will be taking a trip around the world for a while before settling in to work at Goldman Sachs. She’ll be visiting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Laos, Cambodia, China, South Korea, India, Dubai, and Jordan before finishing up her trip by spending time with family in Ireland.
And as for business students who are hoping to take a similar path to Goldman Sachs, she advices: “I believe that work experience is essential for young business students as it helps provide them with exposure in a variety of industries or companies. Take advantage of internships, co-ops and learn all you can along the way.”