Welcome to Wall Street: Two Students Land Internships at Goldman Sachs

Denmark Clarke and Charlie Johnson-Maljar will work as interns at Goldman Sachs

Two NJIT students have internships lined up at Wall Street’s premier investment bank: Goldman Sachs.

Denmark Clarke and Charlie Johnson-Maljar, both juniors in the School of Management with concentrations in international business, will begin their internships next month at Goldman. Officially, their internships are co-ops, which are longer and more in-depth than summer internships. Both will work four months in Goldman’s Capital Market Operations office. 

It’s extremely hard to get an internship at Goldman Sachs; estimates show that about 2 percent of applicants are hired. Back in the spring, Clarke and Johnson attended a conference sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Hundreds of recruiters came to the conference to meet and interview students. The two interviewed there with Goldman recruiters. 

“I was jubilant when I received my offer from Goldman Sachs,” said Johnson-Maljar. “I went through two rounds of interviews, and while I was waiting for my second interviews to begin I was talking with students from Ivy League schools. I was slightly fearful of obtaining the offer when I heard the names Harvard and Princeton.”

But at that moment he thought to himself, he recalled, that it’s not the name of your college that counts but what you make of it. And he knew he was making the most of his time at the School of Management. And that thought bolstered him.

“I went into the second interview with this confidence and landed the offer,” he said. “This is one of the top achievements in my life.”

Statistically, it’s easier to get into an Ivy League school than to Goldman, so those hired as interns usually possess characteristics that distinguish them from thousands of applicants.Clarke and Johnson-Maljar, for instance, both excel at NJIT. But perhaps more importantly, both have also worked hard to overcome personal and academic obstacles.

Overcoming Loss

Take Johnson-Maljar. When he was10 years old, his father died from smoke inhalation in an apartment fire. It was a huge loss to him -- for he was especially close to his father.

“My dad was a computer technician and he lived in Battery Park in Manhattan,” he recalled. “I’d visit him every weekend and he’d take me for rides in a helicopter and we’d go for rides on his speedboat out to Staten Island. It was really hard to lose him.”

But in the wake of his father’s death, he drew closer to his mother, a former fashion model who works now as an elementary school teacher. She watched over him and made sure he received a good education. They lived in a rough neighborhood so for high school she sent him to Seton Hall Prep in West Orange. There, he studied hard, played football and spent a summer studying abroad in Spain. He loved living in Catalonia: He learned Spanish and took an interest in international business affairs, which later became his concentration at NJIT. He also enrolled in Inroads, a nonprofit group that helps minority students prepare for success in corporate jobs.

“My mom kept me sheltered from the environment I was around,” said Johnson-Maljar. “She sent me to Seton Hall and to Spain. She always advocated academic excellence.”

And now he’s excelling at NJIT. He chose to study international business, he said, because he loves business and loves to travel and understand foreign cultures. Above all, he said he values diversity -- in business and in life. And his major is teaching him how to incorporate diversity into all his business decisions, he said.  

“I love international business because it enables me to incorporate a diverse set of values and belief systems into my own life and studies,” he said. “Therefore, I consider everyone’s viewpoint when making important decisions in both work and in life.”

Johnson-Maljar has a strong work ethic and he’s already acquired a good deal of work experience. As part of the federal work-study program, he has had several part-time jobs at NJIT. He also works part time for a bakery in West Orange. And this summer he is interning at Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey in downtown Newark. He helps create excel spreadsheets about billing for Horizon’s many vendors. He’s also part of a team that is streamlining the company’s interactive voice-recognition system.

He’s learning a lot at Horizon and he’s excited for the onset of the fall semester, when he’ll take a short train-ride to Goldman’s Lower Manhattan office. He’ll get academic credit from NJIT and invaluable work experience on Wall Street. It’s nice work if you can get it. And he’s got it. And he’s happy to have it.

“I always wanted to go to Wall Street and now I have an internship with the top firm there, Goldman Sachs,” said Johnson-Maljar. “I’ll work as hard as I can to impress my superiors because I’d love someday to work for Goldman. My mother will be proud of me and, though my father’s gone, I know he’d be proud of me, too.” 

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Denmark Clarke also hopes one day to work on Wall Street: He sees his Goldman internship as a steppingstone to the “boulevard of dreams.” And though he’ll soon intern with one of the world’s most prestigious banks, Clarke began his academic career humbly. After high school, he applied to several colleges: Almost all of them rejected him. He had good grades in high school -- he too attended Seton Hall Prep -- but he doesn’t test well so he scored poorly on the SATs. NJIT accepted him under the provision that he enter as a part-time student in its Aptitute to Succeed (APT) program, where he had to attend mandatory workshops and tutoring. It wasn’t the way he imagined starting his college. But he hunkered down, studied hard and within a year elevated his status to a full-time student.

He found a field within the School of Management that he loved -- international business -- and became a regular on the dean’s list. He has a passion for global markets and for studying how a country’s culture intersects with its business culture. He’s a member of EOP, which helps low-income students excel in college. And he’s on the executive board of the Business Club, a student group at the School of Management. He also participated in a leadership-training program that helped him refine his leadership skills. He spends a lot of time at the Career Development Service (CDS) office, whose counselors helped him improve his resume, his interviewing skills and his ability to get internships.

Last summer, for instance, he interned at the New Jersey Innovation Institute, an NJIT corporation that uses the university's intellectual resources to help industry partners. And this summer he is interning at Maserati, the Italian-owned car company. He works in the company’s headquarters in Englewood Cliff, New Jersey, where he assists the chief financial officer (CFO) with accounting and auditing matters.Working closely with an accomplished CFO of a major international car company is a great experience, he said, one that will help him succeed on his Goldman internship. 

Hired on the Spot

Like Johnson-Maljar, Clarke got the Goldman internship during the NSBE conference. There, he spoke briefly with a Goldman recruiter who was so impressed with his business acumen that he asked Clarke to come the next day for a second round of interviews.

It was to be a rigorous day -- he interviewed with six Goldman managers, including the vice president of operations, two managing directors and officials from human resources (HR). When the interviews were over, Clarke said, one of the HR officials approached him and said, “We don’t usually do this, but we are offering you a position in our operations office in Jersey City.”

He eagerly accepted the internship and could hardly believe his good fortune.  

“Thousands of students had interviewed for the internship and she offered it to me on the spot,” said Clarke, his voice still tinged with incredulity.  

If he does well on his internship at Goldman, the firm could offer him a full-time job -- a possibility that delights Clarke. He’s come a long way since beginning NJIT as a part-time student. And he credits EOP with helping him to succeed by setting lofty goals.

“I learned a lot from EOP, but two things stands out in my mind,” he said. “The EOP faculty has encouraged me to effectively utilize my time and my abilities. They also taught me to set high goals, so that even if you fall a bit short of a high goal you are still doing great.”

And he’s grateful to NJIT for taking a chance on him -- and for giving him a chance.

“I’m thankful to everyone at NJIT who believed in me when no other college did,” said Clarke. “The rejections from the colleges only motivated me to show that despite my SAT scores I had the intellectual capacity to excel in college. When I make it to Wall Street and do well financially, I will not forget NJIT.”

By Robert Florida (robert.florida@njit.edu)