Derek Harrison: Former Intern Spotlight

Derek Harrison was an intern at the World Affairs Council in the Spring of 2014 where he worked in the Education department. He had just graduated from Southern Methodist University in December 2013, where he majored in International Studies.

After graduating in 2013, his ongoing interest in geopolitics led him to his current position as a Senior Strategic Risk Analyst for Emergent Risk International (ERI), a risk intelligence and advisory firm in Dallas. When asked about his role at ERI, Harrison describes himself as an America’s analyst.

“I monitor for and track geopolitical, regulatory and criminal activity, drawing out trends/risks that could cause safety concerns for personnel, threaten to disrupt operations or erode the reputation of our clients,” he says.

As part of his current job, Harrison had the opportunity to live in Ecuador in 2016, where he worked part-time. He has additionally traveled to Mexico on several occasions. When asked about where he would like to visit next, he describes his interest in experiencing culture in Asia, particularly Japan and Vietnam. Further expanding on his interests, Harrison enjoys “learning about history and how past events can shape future trends regarding the nature of work, technological innovation, political loyalty and others.”

“My long-term goal is to work as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) for the State Department,” Harrison says. “I believe that my education/work background and ability to communicate complex topics effectively to different audiences will benefit US foreign policy goals. In the meantime, I plan to continue developing my analytical and writing skills to improve value in my current role.”

With these impressive accomplishments and goals, Harrison was asked for his perspective on what he believes are some of the most pressing issues in the world today. “I believe the threat of climate change, which will act as a general hazard multiplier, is one of the most pressing issues at the global, national and individual level,” Harrison answers. “Political polarization, a rise in populist leaders and rising socioeconomic tensions will become more of an issue in the coming decade - especially as automation and artificial intelligence become more commonplace.”

To be more globally competent so that awareness about such issues is achieved, Harrison promotes “becoming more active in related discussions and keeping up to date on pressing global issues.” He further shares his belief that exposure to new places, people, and ideas, both broad and in diverse areas like Dallas, will contribute to global competency.

Reflecting on his Council experience, he recounts how he “really enjoyed the opportunity to listen to a range of speakers from a variety of fields and who are key figures in their respective disciplines.” With his time at the Council, and his experiences since then, Harrison leaves a few words of advice for future Council interns: “Be as active as possible during your time at the Council,” he suggests. “This includes attending as many events as time allows and getting a chance to meet/talk with as many staff, members and visitors as possible.”

However, this is not all. Directed to all future leaders of our world, Harrison states, “maintain a commitment to learning and expose yourself to new ideas/experiences. Despite the workforce demand for specialization in various fields, the ability to write clearly, think critically, and ask good questions will always be in demand.”

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