Career News, Updates & Insights

Discovering mentorship at CRA

Hi everyone! I’m an analyst in the Antitrust & Competition Economics Practice based in Chicago. I started in August of 2016 after graduating from the University of Chicago with a degree in Economics. Navigating a new job and post-graduation life has been a wonderful whirlwind thus far. I’m here to share a bit about my experience onboarding at CRA and the mentorship culture in my practice and office.
Months before my first day of work, I was paired with an “onboarding buddy” – a consulting associate on my future team who welcomed me to the firm and was there to answer any questions. Our interactions before my start date made the first day experience feel natural and welcoming. After RAC I, an orientation training for new analysts, my onboarding buddy helped me tackle the initial learning curve and build my technical skills (Excel, Stata, internal processes) by letting me audit his work and giving me technical tasks that gradually increased in difficulty. Luckily, he sits only one cubicle over so he’s always easily reachable for questions – and I had a lot at first! In the time that I worked closely with him to build my knowledge base, I was able to develop what was introduced at RAC I into solid, applicable skills. After the first two weeks, the new analysts in my practice were approached by project managers to be integrated off training tasks and into active projects. While I mostly work independently from my onboarding buddy now, when we collaborate on a case, I know that I can always ask him for both general and technical advice.
My direct supervisor is a principal in my practice who I touch base with from time to time. We have check-ins on my cases, my learning curve, and how I feel about my progress in the firm. We also discuss the types of projects I’m interested in and anyone I’d like to work with so that he can help loop me in on related projects. Another principal in my practice supervises all the Chicago Antitrust & Competition Economics Practice junior staff and also checks in from time to time to touch base on our development. Both supervisors are great resources on bigger picture concerns, project interests, and career development.
Beyond the formal onboarding process and team structure, I work with other senior team members on a daily basis in our casework. I work most frequently with other analysts and associates to collaborate on tasks and am constantly in touch with senior team members on my progress. They are always open to meeting to address questions, discuss concerns, and collaborate in finding solutions. On many occasions, I’ve been amazed by how willing the senior members of my practice are to spend substantial amounts of time helping younger staff with questions, combing through our codes with us, and making sure we are up to speed. In my practice, senior team members frequently keep their office doors open, contributing to the positive atmosphere of encouragement and support.