Who's working at the big banks?
Recently Goldman Sachs (GS) released its 2017 Summer Intern Survey, telling us a little more about the students showing up to work at one of America's wealthiest (and most controversial) investment houses. It's surprisingly thorough. In a glossy website, the firm lays out the demographics and worldviews of the college and graduate students who are about to help manage billions of dollars.
Strange as it may seem, this actually matters quite a lot to everyone. Like at other investment banks and law firms, most new Goldman hires will come from this pool of interns. They represent the future freshman class at a financial titan, and in 20 years, a substantial amount of the economy will hang on their personal and professional judgment. (Even if you don't have much money tied up in the stock market, 2008 served as a stunning clinic in how Wall Street's decisions can still shape your life.)
So, who are these interns? Let's take a look at three of the major findings that stand out.
A Global Group
Goldman's incoming interns hail from 97 countries. They speak 78 different languages and will be working for the firm in offices all across the world. Nearly 40% of this incoming class will work outside of the Americas.
While this isn't news, it is yet another reminder of how interconnected America's financial and economic health has become.
America's banks are increasingly looking to and recruiting from a global audience. Goldman Sachs isn't shipping interns in from far-flung locales around the world. They're going to work in offices across Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East.
That doesn't mean they've lost their heads in a global cloud, though. Perhaps one of the most interesting data points from this survey shows that nearly three-quarters of this incoming class believes that of two languages to learn for the future, Python is the more important.
Yes, this is a globally-recruited, globally positioned group of interns, but even they are preparing for the technologies of tomorrow.
This is also a group that looks surprisingly unlike their parents in some ways.
One of the dominant themes of the past two years has been a resurgence of older, populist anger. Older Americans helped push Donald Trump to victory over Hillary Clinton, giving the candidate an eight-point margin among voters over 65. Their counterparts in Britain did the same, with Leave voters scaling directly according to age. This demographic has forced the world to pay attention to its demands, while at the same time raising an important question: what happens when their kids come of age?
The ones poised to take over Wall Street, at least, seem to share very little of their parents' attitudes.
Nearly all of the incoming Goldman interns want global government cooperation on climate change, perhaps no surprise since they'll be the ones inheriting those tepid, acidic oceans. They also, however, see an age dominated by robotics and artificial intelligence, so much so that 85% say that those fields will dominate the coming decade.
They have must-follow social media accounts, firm opinions on favorite apps and they'd really like to stop wearing a suit and tie into the office. That last, at least, may not be particularly unconventional for 20-somethings.
Socially Engaged and Grounded
Like many Millennials, these interns have fairly sharp social consciences, but they aren't particularly rebellious. By wide margins they describe themselves as optimistic and hopeful for the future (although that, admittedly, may have something to do with the lucrative internships they just landed).
They stay informed on the news through sources like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Financial Times. They follow Elon Musk and National Geographic on social media and prioritize spending time with friends and family.
For all that, their goals look much the same as any other generation. They hope to buy cars by 30 and homes by 40. They want to get married and by substantial margins to have kids. Most have already begun saving for their futures.
In other words, this is a group that fairly accurately reflects the financial leaders of their generation: They understand the world they're inheriting, and are preparing to do something about it.
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