When I joined Goldman in 2005 I was told the following: “Remember this: Goldman is always a tough place. It is tough to be hired, it is tough to work here, and it is tough to leave”.
With that in mind, the first 100 days at the firm can be critical. Mismatched expectations, trying too hard too quickly or not developing the right relationships can make a dent on the career prospects of otherwise very talented people.
Breathe the Goldman culture
As in any other firm with a strong culture, there is a “Goldman way of being and working”. Pay attention, take notes. Learn what drives people around you. GS is all about hard work, client focus and excellence in everything you do. Are your personal values aligned with such a culture? If they don’t, you will have a hard time making any progress.
Focus on becoming a reliable professional who makes few mistakes
We are all prone to making mistakes. But when you start, you are building the critical part of your reputation: being seen as a safe pair of hands.
Identify your weak spots and hedge them. For instance, if you are absent-minded, use apps or make it a habit to notes of everything on a notepad so you don’t rely on your memory. I kept a “learning notebook” that helped me digest the vast amount of information that was being thrown at me on a daily basis.
Be happy and enthusiastic doing things below your pay grade
I brought lunch to my team on busy days as an analyst, and I picked my boss’ laundry at the end of the day. I did not need to be told. I offered myself. It did not matter that my boss was 2 years younger than me. When you are a junior person you need to figure out how you can add value to your team, even with small things.
Ask yourself: how can I be of help, here and now? Do that consistently and your team will notice. You will become a valuable member of the pack, someone helpful that is worth training and developing, and you will soon find yourself adding value through more complex business contributions.
Leave politics to your boss
Let’s be honest: when you start, you don’t have a clue about the internal dynamics. So don’t try to get in the middle of things. It is very easy to get in trouble (and to get other people in trouble) with mindless comments, copying the wrong people on emails or joining a seemingly innocent conversation in which someone is being trashed.
Ask yourself: is this adding any value? and when in doubt, be back off and focus on doing your job. You will have plenty of politics to deal with later on in your career!
Rafael Sarandeses is a former Investment Banker & Pro Racing Driver. Performance junkie. More @ rafaelsarandeses.com
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