Leaders Serving: Ensigns Garrett Hendrickson and Joshua Smith Emphasize the Importance of Networking

By Wyatt Sebourn | AUP Unit California Maritime

Editor's note: Leaders Serving is an occasional series where the AUP catches up with its alumni to see what they're working on and what advice they have for future and current AUP students. 

AUP is a perfect way for students to get involved in the world of the US Coast Guard. They are presented with countless opportunities to interact with enlisted and officers. It is not every day that an AUP member is given the chance to hear from a USCG Officer who was once an AUP member themselves, learn about what they did as member, and get some advice. Both Ensign Garrett Hendrickson and Ensign Joshua Smith graduated from OCS and were avid members in AUP while they were undergraduates.  Below are their replies to submitted questions, edited for mechanics and style.

ENS Garrett Hendrickson graduated from The College of William & Mary in 2015 and graduated from Officer Candidate School (OCS) on November 24, 2015.

  1. What was your involvement in AUP? What were some of the classes you took or qualifications you obtained?
    When I joined the AUP, it was very surface-centric. By that, I mean there were no opportunities for members to learn about Coast Guard Auxiliary Aviation. As a Coast Guard Auxiliary aviator, I wanted to change that. During my time as a student I worked to build AUP 260, which is the AUXAIR course. I taught the course during my last year in the AUP, and I'm still involved with it today. Other notable involvements were the National Operations Weekend (which is a great opportunity for anybody) and the general camaraderie with my shipmates.
  2. What was your experience at OCS? Where do you envision yourself 10-20 years from now?
    OCS is no joke. It was incredibly challenging, but getting to go through it with some of my AUP shipmates was really cool. In the next few years of my Coast Guard career, I plan on going through flight school and, hopefully, getting stationed somewhere warm.
  3. What is AUP helped you grow to become a USCG Officer?
    One of the most important aspects of being a military officer is building and maintaining a network. It's about knowing people, talking to people, and learning from people. AUP provides plenty of opportunities for burgeoning military leaders to establish a network. The network you build in AUP will last many, many years past your graduation date.
  4. What advice would you give to someone looking to enlist, become an officer, or even be successful in non-military careers?
    Build your network. You will meet so many people in the Auxiliary that can teach you a lot. Any opportunity you have to meet someone new, do it. And then keep in touch with that person. The Lieutenant you meet during an internship might be the next Commanding Officer of a cutter. Your Flotilla Commander might be an accomplished business person. Everyone can teach you something. It's as easy as being polite and friendly with everyone you meet.

ENS Joshua Smith graduated from California Maritime Academy (CMA) in 2015 and graduated from OCS.

  1. What drew you to CMA? What was your major? And why choose AUP?
    I initially became interested in CMA because of its Navy ROTC program, and upon being exposed to the Global Studies and Maritime Affairs program, I was sold on the school. I became interested in the Coast Guard as opposed to Navy through AUP. I heard about it and decided to join.
  2. What was your involvement in AUP?
    My first year in, I was the Deputy Unity Leader. I attended unit flotilla meetings and created the Plan of the Day. My second year in, I became the Unit Leader and attended video conferences with National about once a month. While in AUP, I focused on obtaining VE Qualifications.
  3. How did AUP help to shape you as an officer?
    Well good grades [helped], for one thing. It is hard to get anywhere if you don’t know what you are doing, and good grades are a way to prove that. At CMA, we had the Corps of Cadets, and combining that with my AUP leadership experience, I was well exposed to the tasks and qualities of a leader. Lastly, I got to intern at the Air Station Sacramento. This internship is what closely exposed me to the Coast Guard and how it operated.
  4. Do you have any advice for students looking to enlist, become officers, or just be successful in non-military jobs?
    Learn as much as you possibly can. Networking is also one of the most effective things you can do for yourself. Get to know those in AUP; they are great connections, and they might even know more people.
  5. If you could go back and do things differently, what would you do?
    I would go back and try to get more qualifications. Looking back now, I realize that Boat Crew would have been my number one choice on top of Vessel Examiner. Having those multiple qualifications is a great way to expose yourself to multiple areas of the Coast Guard Mission.