After my first phase on a 210’ cutter out of St. Petersburg, I got the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. for an internship at Coast Guard headquarters. I did not know what to expect from the experience, but my six weeks in D.C. was eye-opening. A fellow classmate and I were the two cadets accepted for an internship with the finance office at headquarters. I really enjoyed the experience because it was very different from my time on a cutter. Not only was the lifestyle different since I went from having watches on the CGC Venturous to having a set work schedule, going into the office at 8 a.m. and getting off work at around 4 p.m., but we were given projects to analyze as interns and our recommendations were actually taken seriously and implemented. It was awesome seeing how we were able to contribute to the Coast Guard. More importantly, interning at headquarters was an amazing opportunity to meet other types of officers.
The Academy puts a huge emphasis on going on a cutter and they advertise a cutterman life more than any other career. It was interesting to learn about other career paths besides being on a boat. There were officers that came from grad school, officers that were social aids, and officers that were liaisons to other countries. It was also a privilege to help with multiple retirement ceremonies at headquarters since we got to hear about a whole career of a Coast Guard officer. All and all, the internship definitely gave me a different perspective on the Coast Guard. It was like a backstage pass to see the people providing all the support for the operational units.
My first phase gave me a good insight on how my ensign life will be since I will be putting in for cutters for my first tour. However, the second phase of my summer gave me a better idea of the possibilities for my future in the Coast Guard and how it does not necessarily have to be a cutterman’s life.
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