Before joining CRA, I attended Wellesley College, where I majored in economics. Throughout school, I worked as a research assistant on a few different projects, which sparked my interest in working with data, and provided exposure to the life sciences field. At Wellesley, I particularly liked statistics-heavy classes, and econometrics. A career in economic consulting felt like a good fit because most of the work we do at CRA deals with data and research, both quantitative and qualitative.
Going into my senior year, I didn’t know much about economic consulting. It was hard to grasp how each of the different practice areas I’d heard about could be applied to economics. For instance, I work in the Life Sciences practice; CRA also has a Forensic Accounting practice and an Energy practice, among several others. As a student, however, I didn’t know that econ consulting worked with these specific industries. I liked that I could find a practice area that fit my general industry interests and still work with data and economics daily.
My senior year, I went to the consulting and finance career fair at Wellesley. I talked to an associate at the CRA booth; he emphasized that CRA gives new analysts the opportunity to work on a variety of projects to hone their technical skills and further explore their interests. I then went to a CRA info session and learned more about the specifics of the job, which furthered my interest in economic consulting. CRA sounded like a company that invested in their people and offered many opportunities to acquire new skills.
Though I mainly work on life science cases, I’ve sometimes crossed over with other practices. In the first several months at CRA, I worked on a pharmaceutical case that related to anti-competitive behavior. I was able to collaborate with colleagues in our Antitrust & Competition practice and see a bit of what they do.
In my first three months here, we analysts received a lot of training. The firm gives you a strong base because people come from different majors, schools, and knowledge sets, and leadership wants to make sure everyone has a solid foundation. Though I work in the Washington, DC office, all new junior hires across the firm had the opportunity to go to Boston for a four-day orientation. Then I had an additional three days of training for my specific practice. We were taught the details of what our practice does and who our clients are. We learned about CRA’s other practices and were trained on specific technical tools like Stata and VBA. We also worked on a mock group case in order to practice before we were assigned to an actual project.
The work culture at CRA is great. Everyone was friendly on my first day, and all newcomers have an onboarding buddy. If you have a question about something small, you have a point person to reach out to. CRA has a culture that is always collaborative and open to questions about anything.
My advice for students thinking about going into economic consulting is to take time to figure out if the work is something they’d like to do. My day-to-day tasks frequently involve working with data and research. Do you enjoy those types of tasks? Figuring that out is key, versus going into consulting and simply hoping you like it. Make sure that the work is right for you so you’re happy in the future.
CRA knows that a lot of people are starting their careers here and going in many directions. If you’re not quite sure if you want to go to graduate school or what you want to do later in your career, CRA is a great place to start. The firm doesn’t close doors for you. There are people here who go to law school or med school, or get their PhD, MBA, etc. CRA is a wonderful place to further explore your interests and decide what you want to do next.
“Try & Hire” internship experience at CRA Zurich amid the COVID-19 pandemic
José Bila is an associate in the Life Sciences Practice based in Zurich. He joined CRA in June 2020 as part of the Swiss “Try & Hire” program, where...