Foster Success Stories: From the Mountains of Afghanistan to Goldman Sachs

Josh Rodriguez is an associate at Goldman Sachs in Seattle, serving high net worth families and institutions. It’s a new career for Josh, but he’s no stranger to service.

Josh graduated from Foster with his MBA back in June. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the United States Military Academy in 2007 and then embarked on a series of deployments (including multiple tours in Afghanistan) across a decade-long career as a reconnaissance officer in the US Army.

“I planned to stay in for 30 years,” he said. “But one day I realized I had two kids and I had only been to two of their birthday parties. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave the military – I was doing very well, and things looked very bright for me. I knew I’d be leaving soldiers, but I had peers that had went and got an MBA, and I learned it was in fact possible to help people outside of the military.”

Location was the initial reason Josh decided to attend Foster. “I lived in 9 different homes in 10 years. Out of all of those, I loved the Pacific Northwest the most.”

With no professional experience outside the military, Josh knew he had his work cut out for him, yet the career management office was eager to receive him.

“Everyone in career management was extremely helpful, especially Naomi Sanchez,” he said. “I started school in September, but by then, I had already met with career management two or three times. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do. They were very supportive and welcoming even before I entered the program. With their help, I already had leads for internships by October.”

Foster also helped Josh decide on a career in finance, a choice he admits wasn’t on his mind when first enrolled.

“When I was in the military, I was working on campaigns for thousands of people. I was planning for tactical operations in Kunar and shutting down bases in Afghanistan, all kinds of stuff. With those experiences under my belt, I thought consulting was the route for me.  I thought that’s what I’d end up doing…maybe operations. I never considered finance – didn’t even think of it as an option; however, the finance department at Foster is incredible. Thomas Gilbert, Chris Hrdlicka, Kathy Dewenter – very influential. I couldn’t imagine being better prepared, especially as a career switcher.”

Career management helped connect Josh to Goldman Sachs, where he worked as an intern between his first and second years. “The internship validated everything I wanted to see at the firm. For a global bank that wields the influence it does, it’s fairly small. I felt like I could make an impact. This is a firm that really cares about helping people succeed – coming from combat deployments where even the small things in life are sacred, this was very important to me.”

“I get to pick my clients,” he explained. “I hope to attract folks that are doing great things for the community. If I can help some of the amazing people in this town do even better, I consider that to be an incredible life that happens to be my job.”

“Of course, I never would’ve made it here if it weren’t for Foster,” he said.