Alumni Profile: Reid Standish

What is your background?
I’m originally from Langley, which is a town in British Columbia, Canada. I received my undergraduate degree in International Studies from Simon Fraser University. For most of my studies, I’ve had a strong interest in the former Soviet Union and took all the courses related to that part of world that I could while doing my Bachelor’s degree.  I did a work exchange program in Ukraine when I was 19, which peaked my interest, but was then drawn to Central Asia over the course of my studies and I focused on that region while at the University of Glasgow. Throughout all the school work, I knew I wanted to be a journalist and worked at my school paper in Canada and also edited and managed a now-defunct international affairs magazine for students called The Hidden Transcript, which the IMRCEES program supported during my tenure in 2012-2014. During my second year in Kazakhstan, I freelanced and blogged for several media outlets while writing my thesis.

What is the best memory from the programme?
It’s hard to pick one moment. I made a lot of great friends during the program and was able to travel, live and do research in several different countries. IMRCEES also funded me while I did an internship after my first year in Washington and that helped me get a sense for the city and build some ties that were useful after graduation when I was looking for work.

What are you doing now?
After graduation I was hired by Foreign Policy magazine in Washington, DC. I started there as an editorial researcher, fact-checking articles, doing editorial tasks and blogging but was promoted over the years to editing and reporting. In addition to reporting in DC, I also did reporting trips in Europe and Central Asia and was able to
hone my skills as a journalist and truly get a sense of what it’s like to be part of a fastpaced and dynamic news organization. I left Foreign Policy as an Associate Editor in August 2017 and currently live in Helsinki, Finland where I work as a freelance correspondent for several U.S. publications, like The Atlantic, Public Radio
International, and Foreign Policy magazine. I currently cover northern Europe, the Baltics, and Eastern Europe.

What advice would you give to our current students and applicants?
Work hard and take risks. The program offers lots of opportunities and other avenues for important experiences, skills and contacts that will come in handy, but it’s up to you to make it work. Enjoy the experience, make friends and roll with the sometimes stressful flow of coursework and your thesis, but don’t be shy about taking the
initiative to get more out of the program.

Brief Bio:

I currently work as a freelance correspondent based out of Helsinki, Finland for several U.S. publications. I cover northern Europe, the Baltics, and other parts of the former Soviet Union. Prior to that, I worked at Foreign Policy magazine in Washington, DC as an associate editor. I was hired at Foreign Policy after graduating from the IMRCEES program and in addition to covering international events out of Washington, I was also able to do reporting trips in Europe and Central Asia. Without IMRCEES, I probably wouldn’t be able to do what I’ve done so far. Not only did it give me a strong academic and analytical background, it also provided the opportunities to
get real world experience that helped me hone my skills as a journalist. I wrote my thesis about drug trafficking networks in Kyrgyzstan and I was able to do real research on the ground in Central Asia and interview experts and policymakers about my topic.  Not only did this give me a better understanding of what I was writing about, it gave me the confidence to pursue leads, track down valuable interview subjects and successfully conduct a long term research project. That foundation has proved incredibly useful in my current profession.

First published: 8 September 2016