Before my fellow colleagues and I flew out to Boston for RAC I, the seasoned analysts here in the DC office told us that RAC would be amazing: we would meet many wonderful new people, learn a lot, and have fun throughout. They hyped it up quite a bit so it was hard to meet our expectations. But RAC did not fail to deliver, quite the opposite.
So what is RAC? It stands for Research & Analysis Core and is a weeklong training program that takes place at CRA’s headquarters in Boston. Almost all the new analysts from across practices and across the globe are flown in to participate. It combines a variety of training sessions, workshops, panels, group activities, and social events.
One of my favorite training sessions was about understanding CRA as a business. You know that moment at the dinner table when your relative asks you what you do for work and you stare at them in awe, unable to find the right words to describe your job – maybe because you started two days earlier and you do not know what your job really entails yet. RAC helps you avoid that embarrassment, teaches you how to appreciate the various facets of the company, and how to intelligently describe them.
Other favorite sessions of mine revolved around quality management of deliverables, check-ins with your supervisor, and how to be a great consultant. While every team and project manager likes things their own way, at RAC they teach you how to ask questions, collaborate with other members and share feedback to make sure you perform at your best and contribute positively to the team. They also present what different paths people have taken after a few years at CRA, which highlights the interest CRA takes in the continued development of its junior staff.
Another session my colleagues and I enjoyed was a lesson on clear and direct writing. You may wonder how this could be a hit among young professionals who just spent the last four years of their lives being told over and over again how to write essays, research papers, and dissertations. Well, to quote one of the other 2017 analysts: “I learned more in these 90 minutes than in four years of writing seminars in college.” Furthermore, no one fell asleep (which you almost certainly cannot say about any 90 minute writing seminar in college).
Finally, I must mention how incredibly fun and engaging the social events were. The bowling night after the first day of training was the perfect way to get to know the other analysts in a convivial environment and build up team spirit. The CRA Junior Class “Jeopardy!” game was a very refreshing and entertaining break between training sessions. On the last night, CRA hosted Marketplace, a party where we had the chance to learn about and sign up for CRA’s various extracurricular committees, such as volunteering, pro bono, and the alumni network. This was a great way to consolidate our friendships, learn about the wealth of ways you can get involved in CRA beyond projects, win some CRA goodies, and even get fun, temporary tattoos!
“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...