In our Veterans on a Mission series, we’ll highlight veterans who have put their service-learned skills to work – and have helped us become one of G.I. Jobs’ Top Military Friendly Employers.
Matthew Foster is one of many veterans using his military background to make a difference within AT&T. As an Area Manager in External Affairs, he loves how every day at AT&T brings a new puzzle to solve. See how he was able to continue to develop and grow professionally in his post-military career.
Branch of service:
101st Airborne Division, United States Army
Current position at AT&T:
Area Manager - External Affairs
Tell us a little about your military background:
I served on active duty in the Army from 2003–2007 with one deployment with the 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division. While deployed, I was a part of a convoy security/route clearance team tasked with ensuring that supplies and personnel could travel from Forward Operating Base to Forward Operating Base safely. I served as the point truck weapons specialist, providing active updates to team members behind me as to what obstacles are ahead and how to overcome them.
When did you start at AT&T?
After I left the service, I enrolled in college at the University of Texas at Arlington and achieved my Bachelors and Masters degrees in Public Policy and Public Administration, respectively. I began my career with AT&T in September of 2014.
What skills did you bring with you from the military that help you in your current role?
I’m tasked with the development and/or implementation of legislative tactics and strategies on state issues, which affect the company. I also provide community relations at the local level to promote a positive customer image for AT&T and its affiliates. While in the Army, we memorized a creed. That creed reminds us to always place the mission first, find the way to win and never quit. That creed is still a guiding principle in work within external affairs. For example, placing the mission, or goal, first – and coming up with outside the box solutions to find a way to achieve success and avoid quitting is critical to the success of our legislative agenda.
Are there any similarities between the military and AT&T that helped your transition to the company?
The AT&T Veteran Employee Resource Group is a great resource to military veterans. While I left the military several years ago, I spent the bulk of my time since then in college. After I graduated and tried assimilating into the corporate culture, I found it rather difficult because I was much older than my peers who also just graduated. The AT&T Veteran ERG is a great resource to help veterans transition into the corporate culture, regardless of how long they may have been out of the military.
How did you know what career was right for you after transitioning?
My transition was a bit of a journey that included several career ideas before I finally found my fit in the external affairs role. I knew I loved working in government and the strategic process that goes along with that.
How is the culture at AT&T similar to the military?
The culture at AT&T is a great mix between the traditions and hierarchical structure of the military and the flexibility and freedom that the AT&T 2020 Vision provides.
While I served in the military, I took a great amount of pride in knowing that I was serving our country. AT&T does an amazing job at empowering employees to serve our customers through the service escalation process, the You Refer program, and the Hero tool. These give me the ability to take pride in helping customers, even when my job may not be directly related to solving their concerns.
Would you recommend AT&T to your military friends as an employer?
I would absolutely recommend the AT&T family to my military veteran friends. The military creates a great internal community that is tasked with looking out for each other. The employees at AT&T are very similar in that regard, looking out for each other and helping our peers succeed.
What advice would you give to veterans who are looking to make the transition into the civilian world?
While I served, I often looked up to my squad leader as a mentor to my life as a soldier. I would suggest finding a person in the civilian world to be that same kind of mentor to help them navigate the civilian world.