The next generation of Wall Street titans thinks learning Python is more important than Mandarin

You can lose the tie.
You can lose the tie.
Image: Unsplash/Ruthson Zimmerman
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The summer program at Goldman Sachs is arguably the most prestigious internship on Wall Street. The types of young high-flyers that the bank takes in every year is a good gauge of where the bank, and the industry, is heading.

Judging from a survey of the latest batch of Goldman interns, the future titans of Wall Street will swap pinstripe suits and Prada loafers for t-shirts and hoodies. The stereotypical wardrobe of a computer programmer isn’t merely a fashion choice—the interns, tellingly, are a techie bunch.

The intern class is also cosmopolitan in all the ways you’d expect. They are from 97 countries and speak 78 languages. They are workout junkies and prefer socializing to sleep, much like the Wall-Street types that came before them.

But despite the class’ global roots, Goldman’s interns think learning the programming language Python is more important than learning how to speak Mandarin. Almost three-quarters of interns surveyed think learning Python is the best use of their time, versus 28% who said the same about the world’s most spoken language.

This all comes as banks are trying to attract tech talent to Wall Street. The latest group of Goldman partners included several former engineers. The bank and others, like BlackRock and Two Sigma, have registered for services like HackerRank that train, rate, and match coders to firms. JPMorgan has set up recruitment hubs that double as coffee and smoothie bars, with popcorn machines, and pop-up photo booths. Last year, the largest bank in the US changed its company-wide dress code to business casual (paywall), seen in part as a way to make tech-savvy millennials more comfortable.

Goldman’s interns aren’t into Wall Street’s traditional attire, either. The financial world is mostly besuited, and the unofficial rules include great pressure to wear specific kinds of loafers, pair the right colors and fabrics, and monogram cuffs. According to GSElevator, a blog of things (apparently) overheard at the bank, the rules for shoes are simple: “Prada and Gucci; start and end there.”

According to the survey, nearly 80% of Goldman’s latest intern class prefers to show up to work in casual dress. Almost a fifth go so far as to suggest showing up in jeans and hoodies at the buttoned-up investment bank. And for one in 10, “anything goes.” Good luck with that.