#WeAreElliott: Chris Riehl

Chris Riehl is an International Affairs master’s student at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs where he studies topics in international security, U.S. foreign policy, and Europe & Eurasia. He currently works at IntegrityRisk International where he conducts compliance and due diligence research on international companies and individuals. Prior to joining IRI, Chris interned at the U.S. House of Representatives, the Meridian International Center, and the World Affairs Council of Kentucky & Southern Indiana. His written work has been published by peer-reviewed journals at Columbia University, Tufts University, Johns Hopkins University, and The George Washington University. Relatedly, he is a staff writer at GW’s International Affairs Review. He graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2018, triple majoring in international affairs, history, and political science. He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia and is from Louisville, Kentucky.

When did you realize you wanted an international career?

I realized I wanted an international career in my first years as an undergraduate at Western Kentucky University. I focused my studies on Soviet and American foreign policy during the Cold War and published a couple articles on the topic. Studying abroad in Central Europe helped crystalize my interest on Cold War history in Europe, and specifically how the United States and Soviet Union interacted on the continent. I began studying Russian and completed an undergraduate thesis on Soviet foreign policy in the Brezhnev Era. After that, I decided to pursue a master’s degree at the Elliott School to hone my knowledge of international security and contemporary issues in U.S. foreign policy as it relates to Europe. I enjoy producing written analysis, and I continue to publish on both U.S. and European security issues in my free time.

Where do you currently work, intern or volunteer, and how does it fit in with your career goals?

Currently, I am a Senior Research Intern at IntegrityRisk International where I conduct open source compliance and due diligence research for a variety of clients, including financial institutions and international law firms. This position has helped me hone my professional writing skills, analytical abilities, language skills, and knowledge of international regulatory, litigation, and reputational risks. Additionally, I recently accepted a position as a staff writer at GW’s International Affairs Review where I write on topics relating to U.S. foreign policy, international security, and European & Eurasian affairs. These two roles enable me to strike a nice balance in my professional development between more private sector and business-oriented work and my more international relations focused academic work.

In the past, I interned in with the House Budget Committee majority staff and assisted the professional staffer in charge of international affairs and national security affairs. Additionally, I interned at the Meridian International Center, helping coordinate convening programs relating to U.S. foreign policy, national security, and economic sanctions. I’ve also interned at the World Affairs Council of Kentucky & Southern Indiana where I helped research and draft proposals to the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs pertaining to delegations of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).

What tools/strategies have proved most helpful in making the most of your time at the Elliott School?

One practical piece of advice I would give to incoming students is to find a good way to centralize your assigned readings and notes. What I mean by that is find a software that can log your readings. For me, I use Zotero, but there are many other programs out there. This helps me keep track of the hundreds of readings I’ve been assigned since beginning grad school and also enables me to return to my reading notes at a later date if I need to. It even has a search function which makes synthesizing arguments across readings much easier. Additionally, Zotero helps me keep track of non-school related readings on international affairs and catalog and categorize them. Lastly, this approach also helps me internalize the readings more effectively, enabling me to return to the material months later and still remember the key components of the author’s argument.

What advice do you have for students for staying motivated at work or in class?

I usually pick classes that I have a deep interest in, so motivation is not usually a problem for me. That said, everyone experiences fatigue relating to their work or classes at some point, and I try to maintain a good work/school/life balance to prevent burn out. I think finding hobbies that aren’t related to international affairs (or your field of study) is a good way to help prevent academic fatigue. Additionally, I think that getting started on your long-term assignments as early in the semester as possible helps prevent crunch weeks where you may feel overwhelmed with work. Relatedly, take a look at your syllabi early in the semester and anticipate crunch weeks. Oftentimes they come around the end of October and just before Thanksgiving. In that way, you can work ahead and alleviate stress on you in the future. I cannot recommend this method enough.

What has been the best investment you’ve made since quarantine?

Speaking of hobbies, I’ve tried to improve my cooking skills a lot during COVID since everyone has had to reduce going out to eat. I bought some better kitchen appliances and utensils that have helped maintain my interest in cooking my own meals more frequently. It’s a nice way to take my mind off school and work for a while.


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The #WeAreElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights current students to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.