I roomed with a Goldman guy when I first started in the City.
Our worlds could not have been further apart. I was at the humble and now defunct Yamaichi, where the training was non-existent and where we were thrown a contact list and told to get on the phone and do some business!
My roomie, on the other hand, was going through the Goldman induction program. Training, examinations, time in New York - the works. I was struck, however, by how brainwashed he and his co-workers appeared to be. They lived and breathed the firm like characters in some movie. They would even go in on Sundays for most of the day just to show some 'face time'. It was like some private army!
But there was always another side to Goldman. Every year you had to do a 360 degree evaluation where you judged your peers, and they, in turn, expressed their views on you. And every year there would be a 10 to 15 % cull of the least performing staff (and that was in the old days, before it became fashionable). And lest I forget, I was always stuck by the 'negative trade report' for salesmen - if you didn't print a ticket on any given day, you had to submit a report to explain why, and what you had been doing with your time that day.
The rewards, of course, are huge at Goldman. But people there are so Alpha. They want it all - and then some. Most of us would last about 5 minutes at Goldman Sachs, which is why many apply, but few are chosen'.