Describe your initial impression of AIM in five words or less.
Did all your physical fitness preparation pay off?
It definitely did! Prior to attending AIM, I focused mainly on pushups and sit-ups while my running was already in good shape. I scored well on the PFE so in that respect, it paid off. Many people found the run during morning calisthenics to be difficult, so if you could only focus on one thing, I would suggest running. I expected there to be more physical fitness throughout the week like push-ups and running but what I didn’t anticipate is how being on your feet and braced up all day would wear me down.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about the Academy that you didn’t already know?
The most interesting thing I learned about the Academy was the individual stories of different people. With the Coast Guard being such a small branch of the military, each person has their own unique connection to the service. Whether it was because it was the only way they would afford college, or they had a family member who was in the Coast Guard, all these people ended up at the same place striving for the same things, which was cool to think about. For me, this really drove home the point of how close everyone in the service is to each other.
What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Honestly waking up in the mornings for me was the hardest part. When the cadre woke everyone up, reveille would play, and the cadre would be waiting outside of the rooms shouting. Quickly waking up, jumping out of bed, putting on my shoes, and being in the hallway ready to sound off was difficult. The mornings were the only times that I truly didn’t want to be there.
Once I woke myself up with morning calisthenics and got to move around a little bit, I was in a better headspace, and I had a lot more motivation throughout the day.
Looking back, would you have done anything different to prepare yourself for AIM?
Probably not. Preparing mentally is the most important part. Expecting overwhelming situations with lots of yelling and chaos is important. I didn’t think about that aspect too much since I’ve never been in an environment like that but, I’m a tough person mentally so it wasn’t hard to adapt to. Lots of people seemed to struggle at the beginning of the week with simple things because they got overwhelmed, but by the middle of the week, they were already adapted to it.
What surprised you the most about AIM?
The most surprising thing about AIM was how relaxed the cadre were at the end of the week, emphasis on the end of week. In the beginning I was terrified of the cadre but when the environment switched to a relaxed one, I got to know the cadre better and learned a lot of things from them. It was strange how they switched from yelling at me, to laughing with me, back to yelling at me.
How was your connection with the other AIMsters?
I expected everyone to be very close to each other and I felt that we were. My roommates and I were tight by the end of the week and as of about a week later were still texting each other daily. In the first couple of days, I didn’t get too much of a chance to talk to other AIMsters because everyone was so busy. But, towards the end of the week I got a lot more time to talk to everyone and it’s so easy to talk to everyone because we all shared similar experiences throughout the week. Believe me there’s a lot to talk about!
Can you identify a noticeable difference in yourself after attending AIM? If so, what?
I feel a lot more confident in everything I do. While I was at AIM, I messed up a lot and so did everyone else. Simply messing up a name or dropping a pen on the ground could lead to a stressful situation, where you had to request permission or explain yourself. However, everyone learned to keep themselves calm even though they were stressed. Now that I’m home I’m not scared to mess up small things because I know I will be able to figure it out.
Would you recommend attending AIM? Why?
If you are debating attending AIM, just sign up! Even if you’re nervous or scared to attend, I could not suggest it more. Everyone expects AIM to be difficult and it was, but it was so much more fun than it was hard. When I came back home and people were asking me about AIM, my first response was always how much fun I had. It’s a unique experience and for me any hesitations I had about applying to the Academy were gone by the end of the week.