What is your current job and what does it entail?
I am the planning branch chief at Coast Guard Group/Marine Safety Office Long Island Sound, New Haven, CT. Most of my time is spent drafting and exercising plans for oil spill response, port security and natural disasters.
What was the key factor in your career decision?
What do like most about your career?
I wanted to work in the environmental field on the regulatory side, and I wanted a job where I could be a supervisor, work in the marine environment, and be an important part of a team. I had been enlisted in the Coast Guard during the early 1980s (before attending college) and found out about the Coast Guard's Direct Commission Environmental Manager Program. I entered the Coast Guard as an officer (Lieutenant Junior Grade) through this program in 1997.
The diversity of the jobs that I have held. Since entering the Coast Guard as an officer, I have worked writing environmental regulations, enforcing waterways laws and responding to pollution problems, three very different areas in the Coast Guard. There is always something to learn. Every day brings new challenges.
What do you like least about your career?
There are few things I don't like about my career, but if I had to list one I'd say having to move every four years. This is the one drawback that you will find in any military job. This can be difficult on family members, especially if you have kids in school or a spouse that has a good job.
What do you do to relax?
I like bicycling, lifting weights and swimming. The Coast Guard promotes physical fitness highly and is very good about providing flex time for this. We have a gym here on base and many of us either run or work out during our lunch hour.
Who are your heroes/heroines?
What advice would you give a high school student who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in your field?
I don't have any in particular, but admire those who have the courage to make unpopular decisions that are for the good of the group as a whole. There are always some people who will be unhappy with the decisions you make and I respect those who have the courage to make the decisions that they know will not be well received.
Most of all, I would encourage him/her to excel academically. Also, participate in as many sports and student activities as possible and apply to the Coast Guard Academy. The Academy is one of the most competitive schools in the country and provides one of the best deals you can find -- a free college education. Upon graduation you will receive a commission as an ensign and will have a service obligation of five years. If you don't apply to the Coast Guard Academy and instead attend another college, officer candidate school or a direct commission are other options for becoming an officer. These programs are also competitive and generally require a bachelor's degree with a fairly high GPA. No matter which commissioning path you follow, you will later have the chance to apply to one of the Coast Guard's graduate school programs, where you can earn your master's degree and get paid at the same time. Or, you may be eligible to apply to flight school and become a Coast Guard helicopter or jet pilot.
Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why?
Lately, with the new (post-9/11) emphasis on port security, opportunities for officers have never been better in this area. Hiring is often cyclical, however, and this could change at any time depending on the US economy, the political climate and the status of opportunities with the private sector.
What will you be doing 10 years from today?
I could be working in any number of jobs, ranging from the executive officer or commanding officer of a marine safety office to a staff job at a district office or at Coast Guard headquarters.
Salary:$80,000 - $90,000