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SUMMER CUM LAUDE

How does your world view stack up against a Goldman Sachs intern’s?

Golden ticket.
  • Oliver Staley
By Oliver Staley

Business & culture editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The very rich, as F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, are different from you and me. But it appears that the aspiring very rich—say, the 3,000 college students who spent their summer as Goldman Sachs interns—are not so different from most of us.

The Wall Street firm’s annual summer intern poll involved interns in 35 offices around the world, covering college and graduate students from 496 schools in 55 majors. Because it was conducted internally, the survey avoided hot-button topics, or questions that might challenge Goldman’s idea of itself as a benevolent force for good, but it did provide a window into the views of the future masters of the universe.

In many ways, they’re surprising conventional in their outlook. Most (92%) plan on marrying or finding a life partner, and 90% want to have children. Nearly half (45%) want a pet.

They anticipate stable careers—93% think they will work for five companies or fewer—but they are ambitious: 64% want to start their own business, 50% hope to become a CEO, and 6% plan on entering politics. A starry-eyed 4% think they’ll be celebrities.

They primary pay for things with debit or credit cards (82%), while 11% mainly use their phones, and 6% still rely mostly on cash. Nearly two-thirds said they expect cryptocurrencies will become more prevalent.

More than three-fourths say the quality of future colleagues is “very important” when they consider their dream workplace, while 44% ascribed the same level of importance (“very”) to working somewhere with an important purpose. Both factors far outweighed the priority of working in a “cool/fun” workplace.

They were not asked how they prioritized pay. If given $1,000, 64% said they would save or invest it, and if they could pick just one thing to change in their lifetime, 40% said they would choose to cure cancer, making it a more popular answer than “equal opportunity for all” (30%) or finding a solution to climate change (24%).

When asked to pick a leader they admire, the top choice was Barack Obama. Others mentioned were Sheryl Sandberg, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and their parents. Outgoing Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein did not make the cut.

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