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cadet blogs

Decisions, Decisions

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo It’s midterms here at the Academy, which means staying up late writing papers, studying for tests, and catching up on homework. However, just like any other day, academic work is not the only thing on our minds. For firsties, the center of discussion is on ensign billets. Last week, we had morning training on the billet selection process, and I swear I have never seen more of my classmates awake and attentive during training than that morning. No one wanted to miss out on a critical date or any piece of information that might keep them from getting their dream billet.


I learned quite a bit that morning; however, I believe it can be boiled down to five important lessons:


  1. Be realistic in your selections. Our billets are determined primarily by our class rank. For co-location, the engaged cadets are assigned according to the lower class rank. To the number one cadet in our class, congratulations; that person is going to get his or her first choice unless there is some kind of extreme situation. For the rest of us, we have to determine which picks are realistic for us to get based on what the people above us in rank want. As a result, I have to talk to other cadets to see what they are selecting so that I can design a reasonable billet list.
  2. Everyone in our class wants the same billet. This is actually a joke lesson I have learned from talking to people in an attempt to gauge what people above me want for their first assignment. Apparently, no matter what I tell people I am interested in, at least 30 other people want it. If I am thinking about a buoy tender, tons of marine environmental scientists want the same thing. If I want flight… good luck (I don’t, luckily). If I want a fast response cutter (FRC) in South Florida, think again (this is actually what I want). I think this whole discussion is funny because obviously there are going to be a fair amount of people that want the same general units. There are nearly 190 of us commissioning and only so many billets.
  3. Advice should be taken with a grain of salt. A career path/unit that worked for someone else might not be the best fit for me. Everyone has different skills and preferences. I would rather do what makes me happy and worry about the career part later.
  4. There is no bad billet. I don’t think there is a single bad billet in the Coast Guard. Some of them might be less desirable, but we are a great service. If there are bad billets, it is because the command is not good.
  5. Needs of the service. Ultimately, our assignment may come down to needs of the service. I’m not bothered by that, though. I am happy to serve in the Coast Guard.

I have hinted at my ideal billet/career already. I want to go to an FRC, one of our brand new cutters. I want to go to South Florida because I want to be in the mix of all of the migrant and drug interdictions, as well as search and rescue missions. I will be happy if I get the FRC in Miami because I like the location there better than any of the other FRCs, but I would also be happy to get a different FRC or unit in Florida. My second choice is a ‘210 out of Florida. I say those two picks now as if I am 100% settled on them; I am not. I have so much more work to do asking questions of my mentors and professional resources. Luckily, there is no shortage of good advice in my life.


I am very excited and somewhat nervous to get started with my career. It should be awesome. We’ll see how excited versus stressed I am in five months when it is billet night at last…


If you have any questions, email me at


More about Hunter.


Middle School Me in Retrospect

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Kimura Photo The academic year is in full swing whether I want it to be or not. Things are happening fast, such as Homecoming, midterms, my first diving meet, Halloween, and many others! College life can make it easy to forget to take a step back and reflect. On Wednesdays, I enjoy volunteering at one of New London’s middle schools. The experience is a great opportunity to reflect on my time at the Academy in comparison to when I was in middle school.


Last Wednesday, I had the shock of realizing how old I am when I discovered there are now online P.E. classes (the concept still baffles me) and online math classes; 150 students with computers teaching themselves algebra. I was not the only one to learn something new; I had the chance to answer a few questions the students had. Such as, “Do you have to do push-ups all the time?” I get that question frequently because, for some reason, people think I attend 24-hour fitness training and not school. I informed them that I can do push-ups, but right now I’m only focusing on my classes. Another question I got was, “Do you have fun?” There are many versions of fun, but my answer is definitely “Yes.” My college experience does involve much more responsibility then that of a typical college student, but I understand the investment of my hard work now will pay off in the future.


The whole interaction reminded me of my middle school self during my sister’s first year at an academy. Apparently my biggest question for my sister was “Do you have to wake up early?” Yes she did and so do I; 6 a.m. Monday through Friday. But actually, that’s an hour later than I did in high school.


These questions may seem obvious after being at the Academy for more than a year, but I cannot forget it is not common knowledge. If you have any questions about the Academy, or cadet life, feel free to ask; no question is a silly question.


More about Amy.