Questions about CRA’s day-to-day activities come up in conversation with my family, friends, and prospective candidates. I started at CRA over four months ago, and I still have not been able to craft a consistent response to that question. The reason for that: days can be atypical. That is one of the reasons I decided to join the firm after my internship last summer. I was looking for an environment where I would be challenged to grow every day.
During my internship at CRA, I got a flavor for various types of projects the Energy Practice is engaged in. My responsibilities included data management and analytics, research, and preparation of client deliverables such as market reports, expert witness testimony, slide decks, and Excel models. Therefore, transitioning into a full-time position was a very smooth process. The main difference is the ability to see a completed product at the end of an engagement, which was not always the case over my limited time during the summer.
The Energy Practice is a relatively small team within CRA consisting of 25 consulting staff across multiple geographies. Our project teams range from approximately three to five people, and we are usually staffed on two or three different projects simultaneously. Project staffing is pretty fluid, and team members are pulled into projects based on his or her skills, availability, and opportunity to get exposed to a new kind of work.
This close-knit and dynamic team environment has enabled me to seek mentorship from senior staff and from colleagues who have been here for a few years. I have found that my colleagues are the most important resource for my professional growth at CRA. My questions are welcomed and encouraged; our practice leader made it clear that the first six months of the job are learning-intensive, and it is very reassuring to have a support network that cares about my growth within the company. In addition, our team makes an effort to socialize and have some fun as well. Most days, the other junior staff and I take a walk to grab lunch and sit down for a break in the kitchen; when people feel like they need a break from work, a friendly 10-point game at our mini-basketball hoop or a match of ping pong is welcomed. We also hold practice functions on occasion such as team happy hours, lunches, and dinners.
My day starts with coffee, emails, and energy-related news articles. My inbox will often have follow-ups from tasks I completed the day before or new assignments and project developments for the day. These tasks range from data management and analytics to research and report writing. In addition, I skim through energy-related news from sites such as Utility Dive, Law360, and SNL news. Keeping up with developments in the industry helps us provide valuable insight to our clients. The Energy Practice’s engagements are spread across the legal, regulatory, and commercial space providing expert support and testimony, commercial advisory, and strategy consulting. I’m currently staffed on a commercial advisory project assisting a client with a market entry strategy for the North American gas pipeline industry. This project has helped me to gain a better understanding of how gas markets work and how to gather and analyze data in this segment of the energy industry. My responsibilities on this project include gas demand analysis, research of industry players, and potential targets for acquisition, along with analysis of recent M&A activity in the North American gas pipeline industry.
In addition to project work, analysts can get involved in other practice specific efforts such as business development and CRA activities like the Volunteer and Social Committees, the Junior Class Council (“the JCC”), and Recruiting. This year, I am the Secretary of the JCC—a group that aims to improve the junior staff experience at CRA through educational and social programs. In addition, I have been involved in a couple different business development efforts within the Energy practice. This kind of involvement has helped me meet people in different parts of the company, and it has enabled me to make a positive contribution to the firm’s growth.