Finance Students "Seize the Opportunity of a Lifetime" at Goldman Sachs Undergraduate Camp

UIC Business caught up with Finance majors Nicolas Robledo ’20 and Edgar Avalos ’20 to discuss their experience at Goldman Sachs Undergraduate Camp and how they will leverage their learnings in their careers.

What is the Goldman Sachs undergraduate camp? What did it consist of?

Edgar: It is a three day series of networking opportunities in Dallas, Texas connecting students from all over the country with Goldman Sachs employees. We had the opportunity to attend a series of presentations given by Goldman Sachs employees ranging from professional presence, how to network, how to navigate through the Goldman Sachs application, and other topics. Additionally, other presentations invited us to reflect about the company’s social services and volunteer opportunities and the impact they make. Lastly, they discussed life in Dallas, how it’s growing, and how it would be a good place to start our professional careers.

Nicolas: It was pretty much an overview of the company, the area, and the steps that we need to take to get an internship back home – and also what it would actually be like to work in various positions at Goldman. 

Edgar: We did have some fun too! We took a VIP tour of AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play. That was pretty cool.

How did you find out about this opportunity?

Nicolas: A friend at IIT, who just graduated and was really active on his campus in finance opportunities, met up with me one day and suggested that I apply.

Did you participate in any competitive activities during the program? If so, what did these activities consist of?

Nicolas: Yes, this activity was called the “Goldman Sachs Challenge.” We were organized in about ten or so tables and given about four different tasks. The first one consisted of a riddle and, for the second one, we had to use Excel to pull data from a pre-prepared list. From there, we made strategy recommendations and basically pitched a stock to a professional lender that was paired up at each table. So we crafted a pitch and decided which company our table would want to invest in and why. Then we tailored our pitch and narrative into a 90-second delivery. It was pretty intense and fun at the same time.

Edgar: The idea was to work as a team and approach different areas of a business. So when you look at Excel, for example, if you have someone at your table who wasn’t into IT or technology savvy, another person could help. The exercise combined traditional stock financials, problem-solving, consulting and operations. Overall, the challenge was to work as a team to see how we work together and try to highlight how in a company, or in any business, to be successful, you have to identify where the strengths and weaknesses lie.

That’s so interesting – the onboarding for the Liautaud Graduate School of Business at UIC also included a similar challenge where we were organized in the various groups and had to pitch a business idea. That’s really awesome, I’m glad you all had that experience.

So what would you say was the most valuable thing you took away or the most impactful thing that you learned?

Edgar: The first thing that came to my mind was how fast recruiting is moving. Students often look for internships after junior year but many of the participants were freshmen and sophomores. Despite your age, if you have good qualities and can put in the work, you can land an internship.

Nicolas: Overall, if you work hard and seek opportunities out rather than waiting for them to come to you, then it is possible to achieve success.

Well said. Now that you see what it’s like to work at Goldman Sachs, would you say this experience impacted the direction of your career?  

Nicolas: It definitely made me want to work there more than before. I originally thought they were mostly limited to investment banking and financial activities, but the company is more than that. They had us speak to professionals from different divisions and learn how the firm operates. When employees want to grow their skills in another area, they can move around to a different position. It seems like a fun place to work where you’re always learning something new. That definitely appealed to me.

Edgar: To be honest, I knew for sure that my place on Earth was something related to business or finance, but I wasn’t sure of what that looked like. After this experience, I realized that I like operations a lot. Operations supports all of the different areas of a business. You have to have a little knowledge of all the areas and how they operate and then you’d have to work with different tools in order to forecast risk and help other divisions make decisions.

Nicolas: To add on to my last comment, while I was there, I got a deeper look at what Goldman does in helping small businesses and investing in communities. If anything, it made me want to work with them more. They do have specific programs that cater to that, and I thought that was great.

I’m glad you all had some great takeaways from the program and it encouraged you. Any last thoughts?

Edgar: My last thing is to encourage readers, you should know all these opportunities come when you’re looking for them. Nick talked about how he heard about this program through word-of-mouth. If he didn’t make that connection with that kind of friend or if he did not apply on time, he would’ve missed out. In my case, it was Bridget, the coach of the Business Career Center, who told students to take advantage of these things and build those relationships. She also stressed the power of networking saying, “It is important who you know but more importantly, that those key connections are thinking about you. When the time comes to apply for a job, we want your name to be top of mind.” So it’s about making those relationships and connections where you know the person who can help you is thinking about you.

Nicolas: A key quote that they shared was, “you must seize the opportunity of a lifetime for a lifetime of opportunity.” I really want to reiterate that UIC Business students are only getting stronger. The future is bright for us as a school and as individuals.