I began my placement year in June 2021 at Goldman Sachs, and was based in their London Office. I worked within the Internal Audit division, spending half my placement in the Compliance and Legal audit team, and the other half in the Asset Management audit team.
My placement was a very beneficial experience. I developed both professionally and personally in ways that I never would’ve thought of beforehand. However, my placement journey didn’t just begin in June 2021; it started almost ten months earlier when I began applying to placement opportunities.
For me, a considerable part of the placement experience began when I started applying to placements in September 2020, applying to a dozen or so companies. For many, this can be your first experience of professional rejection, so don’t be disheartened – it’s part of the process! Try to see every application as a learning experience, and understand why you were rejected, so you can improve for the future.
Lots of companies have several stages to the hiring – from CVs and cover letters to video interviews and assessment centres. Luckily, the University provides lots of support to help you navigate these stages. I used Assessment Day to practise psychometric tests, and Career Set to help improve and tailor my CV for each application. The University has partnered with both services to make them free for York students.
When it came to the final interview stage, the School for Business and Society’s Careers and Employability team were on hand to run a one-one-one practice interview with me to prepare for the interview. This proved invaluable in perfecting my answers and giving me the confidence to do my best, and to be my authentic self during the actual interview with Goldman Sachs.
What I learned on placement at Goldman Sachs
A placement year in Internal Audit is a unique position, as you get an eagle-eyed view of the firm – essentially any area of the business can be subject to an Internal Audit. This was fantastic for me as I gained a high-level overview of the various business functions within the bank.
This variety and breadth also spread to my daily work. One day, I could be engaging with internal stakeholders, the next day testing controls or validating audit findings. Being assigned a Placement Supervisor from the School was beneficial as they could address any concerns I had. I was also able to stay connected with the University community during placement by being treasurer of a society I was involved in.
I picked up many transferable skills, both interpersonal and technical, throughout my placement year. Being able to communicate clearly and succinctly through email and team updates was just as crucial as my knowledge of audit methodology. I also learned how to work in a fast-paced environment and manage multiple deadlines, both key skills in a deadline-driven environment such as auditing.
I also gave numerous presentations, which gave me many opportunities to improve my public speaking skills. Initially, I found this terrifying at the beginning, but over the course of the placement my confidence gradually increased.
How the placement has shaped my career plans
My placement year has given me a great insight into the Internal Audit profession, and clarity over my career plans. Before the placement started, I thought I would be most suited to a career where I worked predominately independently. However, I discovered that I enjoyed working in a team, and this was different to any group module I had taken at university. The placement also reaffirmed my commitment to gaining the ACA qualification, as it provides a solid foundation for a career in finance.
My placement experience has also been fantastic when it came to applying for graduate schemes. I found that the application stages for placements are very similar for graduate jobs. Also, having a year’s worth of work experience gave me plenty of examples to draw on during interviews. Doing a placement has also helped to differentiate myself from other candidates.
Best of luck with your placement-year journey!