Enlisted Empowerment—The Female Perspective: IT2 Melissa Mercado
Posted by PAC Nick Ameen, Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Blog series created by YN2 Courtney Myers
This is the fourth in a series of Q&A blog posts highlighting enlisted female leaders serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Be sure to check back monthly for more career insight, mentorship and inspiration.
What is the most valuable lesson the Coast Guard has taught you in regards to leadership?
Accountability. I believe accountability is one of the most critical qualities to possess and enforce as a leader. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, your subordinates won’t be able to look up to you. If you don’t hold your subordinates accountable they will never be responsible and most importantly they will never learn. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop growing and then you are stuck and sometimes you don’t even realize it. As a leader you are imparting in your junior members whether you realize it or not. Make sure it’s a positive.
What are your daily duties?
I check my email for anything that I may have left pending. I check the status of the networks and make sure nothing major is down. I do my daily recurring tickets and then I start checking the queue for tickets. I start with the highest priority tickets and then go from there. I normally plan out my day to make sure I can make all my deadlines. If I don’t have any tickets then I follow up with recently resolved tickets and make sure that everything is still working appropriately.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy helping people, so being able to fix issues that customers have makes me happy—especially getting great feedback.
Is there anything particular you do outside of your Coast Guard service to maintain your personal identity?
Yes, I am also a hair stylist. It was always my dream job and even though I can’t color my hair crazy colors, I can do it for my clients and I get to live through them. I have always considered myself an artist and someone out of the box, so being able to create that outside of the Coast Guard has been really good for me.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
I would have to say the day I graduated IT “A” School. I had a challenging time in Petaluma for a number of reasons and there were times I didn’t know if I could make it, but graduating and proving to myself I can accomplish any goal was huge for me. My dad pinned on my collar devices at graduation and I knew he was so proud of his girl, and that moment will always make me smile.
What advice would you give to young women thinking about joining the service?
I say go for it. Do it for yourself, do it to be the difference, and do it because you can. It’s an amazing feeling to serve your country and be part of something so big. The world needs more female leaders and the Coast Guard is the perfect start. There are so many different avenues to go and you can see the world.
Do you feel as though you have faced obstacles that your male counterparts have not?
Yes. Anytime the ratio is not equal there are going to be things that are different—that doesn’t always mean bad—just different. For instance, I am in a male dominated rating so I did not have the chance of having a lot of female mentors. I think that having a strong female mentor early in my career would have had such a positive impact on me.
Did you ever feel like giving up? If so, what made you keep pushing?
Yes, many times, especially in the beginning. I knew I could not give up because I had great potential. I knew that I could accomplish any goal, but I had to commit and get it done. I tend to be extremely hard on myself and I also internalize a lot. So if I was ever having a problem I would not reach out to anyone and I would shut down. Eventually I got to the point where I knew I could not fail and I got off my butt and just did it.
Do you have a hobby that you enjoy outside of work?
I love to travel and visit new places. I love going to theme parks, especially Disney. Now that I live in Florida, we go all the time. I enjoy cooking and trying new restaurants. Being exposed to different cultures.
If there was one thing you wish you would have known when you reported to your first unit that you know now, what would it be?
Everything and everyone around you is an opportunity. There were so many people there who could have helped me grow as a person and in my career but I was so young and I was thinking about other things. I wish I would have taken advantage and really soaked in all of the information I could have. But everything happens for a reason and I am very happy with where my life has taken me.