#ElliottProud: Teagan Reese

#ElliottProud: Teagan Reese

Teagan Reese, M.A. International Affairs, 2020, #ElliottProud. Elliott School of International Affairs
Teagan Reese, M.A. International Affairs, Class of 2020, #ElliottProud alumna

Teagan Reese is a Presidential Management Fellow at the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Office of National Capital Region Coordination. In her role as an Emergency Management Specialist, she supports FEMA in coordinating homeland security and emergency management planning at the federal, state, regional and local levels. She holds a B.A. in International Political Economy and French Studies from Fordham University, and earned an M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University’s Elliott School in Spring 2020. While at the Elliot School, she completed internships at the U.S. Department of State and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Prior to joining FEMA, Teagan served as an analyst for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment in their Office of Industrial Policy. In her free time, Teagan continues to pursue her passion for ballet and fosters animals for City Dogs Rescue and City Kitties in Washington, D.C.

Describe your current position and what made you interested in applying?

I am a current Presidential Management Fellow and serve as an Emergency Management Planner in FEMA’s Office of National Capital Region Coordination (ONCRC). I recently completed a three-month rotation supporting Operation Allies Welcome.

I was interested in applying to the PMF program for its focus on professional development and preparing for the federal workforce. Once I became a finalist, I initially considered appointments related to foreign affairs, but ONCRC stood out as an exciting opportunity for me to experience a more domestic-focused mission while still supporting U.S. national security.

What do you wish other people knew about your organization?

I came into the Department of Homeland Security not knowing much about the organization and its culture other than what I heard in the news. However, even in the short time that I have been working for FEMA and deployed to DHS, I have been incredibly impressed by the knowledge and dedication of the DHS workforce. I wish other people could understand the importance of DHS and see firsthand the impact of all of its components on national security, immigration, and emergency response.

What Elliott School courses would you recommend for students interested in your field and why?

I recommend Transnational Security with Rollie Lal and the Formal Briefing professional skills course.

First, Rollie Lal’s Transnational Security course provides a robust and engaging overview of major transnational security issues, and Dr. Lal encourages students to think critically about solving complex problems. Not only is Dr. Lal an incredibly knowledgeable academic, but she also really cares about her students – so much so that she provides mini-lectures on topics that are useful for graduate students, like loans and personal savings.  

I would also recommend Molly Bauch’s Formal Briefing course, which greatly improved my public speaking and briefing skills. By receiving critiques from my peers and analyzing recordings of my briefings, I honed in on weaknesses that I had never noticed before. I continue to employ techniques from that course almost every day, in both my personal and professional life.

What was your experience with the job search post-graduation? Can you provide any wisdom for students starting their job search?

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made my post-graduation job search very challenging. I began applying to jobs almost four months before graduating in May 2020 and applied to over 100 positions before accepting an offer in July 2020. I used a spreadsheet to keep track of all of the jobs, deadlines, and updates, and after graduating, I set a daily application goal to keep myself moving forward – two strategies that I would highly recommend.

On top of that, I encourage students to know their worth – while you may be demoralized and tired of applying to jobs, the first offer you receive might not be the right fit for you. If you are financially able to do so, be shrewd in accepting a position that values you not only in terms of salary, but also as a professional.  

What was the most rewarding aspect of your time at the Elliott School?

While I benefitted greatly from my courses and professors at the Elliott School, the most rewarding aspect was cultivating personal and professional relationships with an incredibly supportive and talented network of students. Not only did Elliott’s diverse student body enrich my lectures and capstone experience, but my fellow students became an immediate community of friends in a city that I had just moved to. I am still close with so many of my fellow students, and continue to be impressed by the professional achievements of the alums I took class with. My relationships with fellow GW students continue to be the most rewarding aspect of my time in graduate school.

What happy change have you seen or experienced since 2020?

While I have experienced my fair share of emotional and physical distress during quarantine, I’ve also been able to connect with my family more than ever. In March 2020, my family jumped on the Zoom bandwagon and scheduled a weekly call with my parents and siblings. Because we were all either retired, unemployed, or teleworking, we had an abundance of time to connect and continued these weekly calls for over a year. Thanks to quarantine, I went from seeing my family three or four times a year, to seeing them every week. While virtual hang-outs were never as satisfying as seeing each other in person, I still appreciated getting to connect with my family regularly.

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The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights graduate program alumni 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.