Career News, Updates & Insights

The Company I Keep at CRA

Aesop’s Fable The Ass and His Purchaser taught me an important lesson: we are judged by the company we keep. When I left graduate school, I worried I wouldn’t want to surround myself with company I would find in private industry. I had spent my university years listening to friends complain about sitcom-ready office archetypes: the competitive back-stabber, the incompetent know-it-all, and the apathetic complainer. Although I knew I wanted a career that would lift me out of my armchair and take me out of my ivory tower, I worried there was no way I would fit in outside of academia.
But if my first two months on the job hadn’t already eased my worries, then Senior Research and Analysis Core (Senior RAC) did. I participated in Senior RAC, my official induction training at CRA’s headquarters, in the fall of 2016. Nearly 20 recent hires with advanced degrees gathered in our Boston office for a two-day training designed to orient us to CRA. We came from diverse backgrounds, worked in a number of offices, and were consulting across various practices. We did, however, have one thing in common: we were still learning to be consultants.
At this point, I had been working as a Senior Associate in the Competition Practice for several months. I already saw my skills as an economist contribute to project work, but there was a lot that I still didn’t know. How will I know if I am doing a good job? How do I manage expectations? How will I give feedback to my project collaborators? Heck, should I even be giving feedback to my project collaborators? Where do I fit in here?
Senior RAC answered these questions. I left Boston with a better understanding of what is expected of me and how I contribute to my office, my practice, and the firm as a whole. It highlighted how important my role was in the development of our junior staff and gave me the tools to properly handle being a leader and teacher. I witnessed the breadth of CRA’s expertise though my Senior RAC classmates and realized that I was surrounded by incredibly competent people – there wasn’t an archetype in sight!
Graduate school gave me the important analytic tools I needed to succeed at CRA. My first few weeks as a Senior Associate removed many of the bottlenecks to my success in private industry. But it was Senior RAC that helped me grow from graduate student to consultant. All of the colleagues I met were just like me: eager to learn, willing to work, and excited to earn our place in this company. I am proud to be judged by the company I keep at Charles River Associates.