On the first day of orientation, Gabrielle Lyles was astounded as one of the managing directors for the Division of Internal Audit at The Goldman Sachs Group elucidated to the newest interns for the company, “It is harder to get into Goldman Sachs than it is to get into Harvard itself.”
The Illinois native is one of 29 interns chosen from a pool of 1,600 applicants to work in the Department of Internal Audit at the Fortune Global 500 company. The Internal Audit department assesses the firm’s internal control structure, advises management on developing control solutions, and monitors the implementation of these measures.
The Goldman Sachs Group is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals.
Lyles is also the recipient of the Goldman Sachs Scholarship for Excellence (SFE). This annual scholarship assists minority students with their financial transition to New York.
The Goldman Sachs Scholarship for Excellence (SFE) is awarded to students who embody business principles, which are fundamental to long-term success and set the standard for what the company does. Prior to beginning her summer internship, Lyles received the $15,000 SFE toward her tuition and academic expenses.
Lyles, a rising senior at Jackson State is majoring in business entrepreneurship and theater. In 2018, she was selected by The Goldman Sachs Group as one of 132 students from 47 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to attend their annual three-day Leadership Summit in New York.
“When I arrived in New York, I changed clothes and gave my luggage to the concierge,” says Lyles. “The concierge misplaced my luggage in one of their 472 rooms so I ended up going to Goldman Sachs dressed in flip-flops, tights and a tank top but it turned out okay because I came out with an internship.”
She was encouraged to apply for the opportunity by her mentor, Christian Varnado, COB alumnus and assistant vice president/wholesale loan services credit analysis manager for Wells Fargo. “He hears about a lot of different opportunities from his colleagues so when he saw this one, he sent me the link saying, ‘Hey, sign up for this now’,” says Lyles.
“It is my hope that Gabrielle acquires a foundation of knowledge and exposure that will pay dividends for her well after the conclusion of this internship,” says Varnado. “Internal audit is a very critical function in any organization so her experience at the world’s most revered investment bank is indeed a stamp of approval for her impending career.”
During the application process, assistant professor Dr. Donald Causey also continually urged her to maximize her potential.
When speaking about Lyles, the assistant professor of Entrepreneurship says, “She was naturally scared at first because New York can be a frightening thought when you are from a smaller area. I knew she had the knowledge to go there and shine so I encouraged her to go for it and don’t look back.”
Causey continued, “Gabrielle will leave Goldman Sachs with a broader expertise of the financial industry as a whole which should enable her to successfully manage her own business.”
When asked what she plans to acquire from this experience, Lyles replied, “Not only do I want to learn and be challenged but I expect to see growth and build my network throughout these 10 weeks at Goldman Sachs.”
Continuing to share dialogue regarding her internship, she further expounded, “Thus far it has been a wonderful experience for me. After just two weeks, I am so inspired to keep pushing and learning from my colleagues. Overall, I am aiming to become a better auditor and a well-rounded business professional.”
When asked about the culture of New York, she laughs and admits, “The biggest difference is the hospitality and the large crowds of people. I’m definitely just trying to fit in by not making eye contact and staying out of people’s way.”
Lyles, who was raised in East St. Louis, Illinois says she “attended all predominantly white Catholic institutions growing up so she wasn’t familiar with her own culture.”
She further explained “My grade school experiences inspired me to come to an HBCU. I was actually admitted to JSU during my campus tour and one of the university representatives said to me, ‘You got accepted during your tour today, that has never happened before’.”
“After that, I didn’t apply anywhere else. I focused on coming to JSU. I was on a mission,” says Lyles.
When asked about her career aspirations, the 21-year old rising senior says, “If afforded the opportunity, I would definitely like to come back and work at Goldman Sachs full-time. I want to practice business entrepreneurship and also help our community with financial literacy. Once I am seeing some successful profit, I also want to act. I am dedicated to pursuing and accomplishing both of my dreams.”
Before concluding her interview, Lyles was transparent with her advice to incoming College of Business students.
“Don’t let anything hold you back from your dreams. Just because you aren’t majoring in a particular subject matter, doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue and master it. Always remember that the decisions you make now whether positive or negative will definitely affect you in the future. And finally, whatever you do, just do it big.”