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How to get a job at Goldman Sachs when 300 other people want it too

Will McTighe has the kind of profile associated with the archetypal finance bro: He excelled at school; he excelled at university; he ran the finance club; he completed multiple spring weeks; he got a summer internship at Goldman Sachs; he got an analyst job at Goldman Sachs; he left for private equity; he founded a crypto aligned start-up.

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Now, though, having stayed faithful to the template for nearly a decade, McTighe is sharing a revelation on what it really takes to achieve the stereotypes of success in finance: you need to be the same, but different. 

This is especially the case when you’re applying for graduate jobs at the start of your career.

Every Goldman Sachs job has 300 applicants. Like him when he was 20 years-old, McTighe says they mostly have impeccable academic qualifications and a demonstrable interest in finance. The applications are “very generic” as a result. If you want to get in, you need something more. “Most people have quirks,” says McTighe; it’s just that they’re too scared to show them. 

Whether you’re applying for a first job at Goldman Sachs, a private equity role or a Stanford MBA, McTighe says you need to highlight these quirks. “You need to show what’s unique about you and to demonstrate how interesting you are.” By its nature, a quirk is something different. It can be, “something a bit crazy that people think is a bit nuts.”

McTighe’s own quirks include running from Oxford to London along the Thames on a solitary ultra-marathon after the marathon he’d enrolled in was cancelled during the pandemic, even though he’d never run a marathon before. “I started at 8am and finished at 3am,” he says. He’s also learned Mandarin, learned how to be a ski instructor and spent months stepping in and out of a ladder in a garden in order to become a better rugby player. Quirky interests can be cerebral too though: McTighe has been coaching aspiring Stanford MBAs and encountered one with a “Lego room” that had been omitted from his resume; this is precisely the sort of thing that should be on there, he says.

Losing the quirks-post entry 

While quirks can be a good way of getting into somewhere like Goldman Sachs, maintaining them is another matter.

McTighe spent three years at Goldman Sachs in London, working as an investment banker in the consumer team, the healthcare team and the TMT team. The working hours were such that he says there wasn’t much time to do different things.

Most people leave banking, he observes. “A lot of bankers have so much PTSD from their analyst years that they’re too burned out to see the interesting parts of the job.” McTighe estimates that fewer than 25% of the people in his analyst class are at Goldman now. Those who stayed get to be “trusted advisors to important companies and have a really meaningful impact.” 

McTighe went the well-trodden route of Goldman to private equity. He says private equity was better than banking, with interesting work and “sustainable” hours. Ultimately, though, McTighe wanted to start his own business. Before he finally ran his own start-up, he says the most enjoyable part of his career was not Goldman Sachs and not private equity, but running the Warwick University finance society: “I loved the experience of building a team, problem-solving, and trying to help people fulfill their goals. It was where I felt the most professionally fulfilled.”

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available (Telegram: @SarahButcher)

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Mr
    Mr F.
    28 February 2024

    TL;DR be quirky and not like other girls

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