Inspiring Wildcat: Garett Koch '23

Garett is a senior at Johnson & Wales studying accounting & finance. Over the summer, he interned at Goldman Sachs under their Executive Financial Management Group. This prestigious internship only accepted 1.5% of its applicants, and Garett was one of them! He hopes his story will let other students know that JWU students truly can accomplish anything.

Why did you choose JWU to study business?

When I was in high school looking at prospective colleges, I wanted to be able to attend a business school that valued its students as more than just a number. When I visited Johnson & Wales for an open house, I wasn’t really thinking too much about the school – that is until I met the professors. I will never forget the day I sat in front of Professor Cannata (Accounting Professor) and Professor Diaz (Accounting/Finance Professor) and thought to myself, “this is where I want to go.” To me, attending a business school is one thing, but attending a business school where the professors care about your future is another – and that’s what Johnson & Wales has.

Can you share a unique experience you’ve had at JWU so far?

One of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had at JWU is the one that is happening right now! It all started back in December when my Not-for-Profit Accounting professor, Professor Cannata, invited Vice Chancellor Greene into our class to talk about accounting for colleges/universities. During his presentation, he happened to talk about the JWU endowment which was incredibly interesting to me. I currently serve as the Portfolio Manager of the Wildcat Investment Value Fund (WIVF), which is a class that manages a portion of the JWU endowment for investment purposes — and when Vice Chancellor Greene came to speak to our class, a new opportunity fell into my lap. After the class, I reached out to Vice Chancellor Greene to talk about a new “legacy proposal” that a few other students and I made to see what he may think of it. The proposal was built by myself, Jon Pelletier, and Alex Milardo. We were proposing that our Board of Trustees provide further funding to our class for the next 15 years. Fast forward to today, following my meeting with Vice Chancellor Greene, the WIVF has now been able to solicit an additional $25,000 for our investment fund and I will be presenting to the Board of Trustees on the new “legacy proposal” on February 8th with my amazing team. The reason why this has been one of my favorite memories/moments here at JWU is it is a true testament to the “investment” our college is willing to put into our students' education. As Portfolio Manager of the WIVF, I want to ensure every student gains the real-world experience they deserve from our incredible investment portfolio, and the ability to garner further investment from the university shows that they have the same intentions as well. Being a leader to me is not about what you can do in the short run, but rather what legacy you can leave for many years to come that will positively affect as many people as possible. I believe this memory/event will enable me to do just that which is what makes JWU so special.

How did you learn about the Goldman Sachs internship and why did you decide to go for it?

I am a man who loves quotes and one quote I always loved was by John D. Rockefeller who once stated, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” It’s a simple quote but it's what I live by. I did not decide to attend JWU based on the idea that I would be an average individual – I came to JWU to help develop myself into a better/more knowledgeable person and accomplish my highest goals. Although people may not look at JWU as an Ivy League college, I wanted to prove to myself and the world that we truly are some of the finest college students on the market. This is what motivated me to apply for Goldman Sachs when I saw the posting on LinkedIn, and I couldn’t be happier that I did as I now have a full-time post-graduation offer from my dream company.

Dallas city skyline

What do you think set you apart from other candidates?

I am a firm believer that passion can get you anywhere in life. Contrary to what people will tell you on the internet, to accomplish your highest of goals you do not need to know everything about anything. At face value, there are plenty of students in this world that are much smarter than me (it’s not that hard lol!). However, they are not more passionate than me. This is the sole reason I think I was able to set myself apart from other candidates – I want to help people in finance and I’ll do anything to get there. My biggest advice to any of my colleagues would be to believe in yourself and be passionate about your goals – it will never fail you no matter what happens.

What was a typical day like for you during your internship?

I always dreamed of being able to say this: every day was different! With that in mind, my day consisted of going through an educational workshop on a certain topic, working on a new assignment given to me by my manager, networking with as many advisors as possible during any free time I had, picking the brain of my assigned “buddy” on topics I wanted to learn more about or didn’t understand (this was one of the best parts), developing my internship project with my assigned partner on ESG Investing, and the best part of all – winding down by playing mini golf on mats they had around the office.

What did you learn from your internship experience?

There were a few big takeaways from my internship that seemed to highlight my summer. First off, I learned that companies (even Goldman Sachs) do not expect you to know everything, but they want you to have the will to learn. Goldman Sachs, as you can imagine, has a surplus of resources you can dive into, and the more willing you are to dive deeper into those resources, the further you’ll get in your career. I also learned that networking truly is everything. By meeting new people every day, I was able to both learn and grow as an individual. Furthermore, I learned that the shark mentality of "eat or be eaten" in the workplace simply does not work. In my office, people truly cared about one another and most importantly cared about their clients. Working in a place you can consider a “family” is a whole lot better than an environment of pure competition. It’s the idea behind teamwork: we build each other up not just ourselves.

Goldman Sachs interns

What inspired you to take the career path that you are pursuing?

In high school, I was able to accomplish some of my highest goals and I was able to accomplish them because of my mentors leading me down the right path. I wanted to find a way to do the same for people in finance and ensure people actually understand how their finances work and how they can achieve their financial dreams. Giving back and helping others are two things I think God put me on this Earth to do, and I wanted to be able to do that in an industry I love so much: finance.

What advice would you give to a JWU student wanting to pursue ambitious goals such as this?

First, doubt is your biggest enemy. In life, we face many challenges but if you doubt yourself and what you can do you will never take risks and never accomplish your greatest of dreams. Second, learn to fail. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s something people shy away from because they fear what could inevitably happen. My failures in life thus far have taught me far more than my successes. Always remember, failure does not define you in itself, how you react to failure is what defines you. Third and finally, it's important to understand that courage is what gets you into the door and education is what helps you stay. If you have the courage and the passion to succeed, there isn’t an opportunity you can’t achieve.