August 5, 2013
Getting a summer internship with one of the world's most prominent investment banks was itself an interesting experience, says Heather Waldron, '14. "Over Christmas break, I searched the Internet for internship postings, including the Forbes list of best financial internships, and I just started applying. I ended with 56 résumés sent out in total," she said. "I personalized each cover letter to say how I could fit into each company's mission statement. My parents were a big help, too. It would be 10 p.m. and my dad would say, 'I just thought of a good interview question,' and we'd practice."
Waldron's effort has paid off with more work, as she spends 10-to-16-hour days with Goldman Sachs' market risk management team in their Finance division in New York City. Waldron was chosen from a competitive number of applicants for a Goldman Sachs internship, and was one of a fairly small number not to come from a large business school.
"In market risk, we analyze data and predict what would happen to the company if certain market swings occur," Waldron explained. "I help take different information and compile it into daily reports."
Sounds fairly straightforward, but Waldron goes on to explain that the process is anything but easy. "It's definitely a challenge to understand the importance of these numbers and what they mean. You need to be able to know not just what they look like compared to yesterday, but what they mean for the whole company. That's the challenge and reward in itself. For example, if a measure goes up because of an IPO, that's a piece of the puzzle you have to recognize. It's really interesting."
Urban life has been equally interesting for Waldron. "I applied to work in Dallas, but the team was based in New York for the summer," she noted. "I grew up on a maple syrup and horse farm in northern Michigan, and I was terrified to go to New York. But I've learned how to live in a city. I can use public transportation and get groceries when I can't drive to the store."
Despite her initial hesitation, Waldron is making the most of New York. "I've seen three Broadway shows so far and have done a lot of 'New York-y' things," she said. "Goldman Sachs has been wonderful to work for. I didn't know anybody in the city, but they really encourage networking. 'Getting coffee' with interns is part of the culture that all employees are open to. It has allowed me to meet people across all areas of the firm."
She even got to participate in a company-sponsored service day with the Madison Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx. "We played with the kids the whole day." she said. "It was wonderful to see a huge company giving back to the community. It's something Goldman Sachs does at all their offices."
And even though Waldron admits that being from a small college made it harder for her to land a finance internship, being from Albion has been a big advantage on the job. "My time at school has helped me to learn to handle several projects at once," she said. "At Albion, everyone wears several hats; I have two majors and a lot of extracurriculars. I think when it comes to project management, my Albion life has really helped me.
"Also," Waldron continued, "working closely with professors gives you an edge with talking to superiors. I know how to talk to professors because I have access to them, and that makes it easier to approach my supervisors with a question."