In the second semester of my freshmen year studying at Brigham Young University (BYU), I had the opportunity to take a microeconomic theory class with Dr. Steve Waters, an adjunct professor at BYU and a principal in CRA’s Competition Practice. Throughout the duration of the semester, lectures of Lagrangian techniques, Marshallian/Hicksian optimization, elasticity, supply and demand, and substitutes and complements were peppered with stories of the cases he had worked on during his tenure. I loved hearing about how economic theory and data could be applied to the real world to answer legitimate legal and business questions. Naturally, when it came time to apply for internships a year and a half later, I knew I needed to submit an application to CRA. My name is Anna Cvetko. I study economics with a minor in mathematics at BYU. I love rock climbing, scuba diving, long distance running, and historical nonfiction. I’m an intern in the Competition practice in the Salt Lake City office.
The Salt Lake City office is unique in that it is so small. I work with just 3 other analysts and an associate day-to-day. I am the only intern. In the office, we also have a vice president, two senior consultants, and a principal; there’s regular exposure to the senior staff. Because it’s so small, the office is pretty tight-knit (we even eat lunch together nearly every day). I’ve had the opportunity to work on multiple parts of different cases. Most of the time I’m doing interesting data analysis, but I’ve also worked on memos, reviewed draft motions, stress tested damages models, and helped brainstorm big picture ideas. I have even been given the chance to visit court when our motions and analyses were being debated. I’ve been surprised at how much I’m included in the conversation about each case and how the senior staff have taken time to make sure I understand the intricate details. What I’ve loved the most about the Salt Lake office is the constant search for and adaptation of new tools. It has an awesome culture of innovation that facilitates enormous growth and efficiency.
Our intern trainings have been quite useful. The Salt Lake office comprises only the Competition practice, so learning about other areas like Life Sciences and Forensics has been eye opening. My favorite training, however, was about quality assurance with data. It helped me realize that the work I do is high impact, and small errors or unfounded assumptions could have monumental consequences. On the contrary, the stakes aren’t that high at college, so I left the training with a renewed sense of pride in my work. Nonetheless, I do find myself employing tools I’ve obtained in the BYU economics program regularly in the office. Both basic and advanced microeconomic theory have been useful in opining on potential models for difficult cases, and data science projects have given me plenty of exposure to data (albeit, far cleaner and more contrived data than that used in our actual cases). Specifically, prior knowledge of machine learning models, aftermarkets, Python, SQL, and even basic financial concepts like the time value of money and the weighted average cost of capital have gone a long way in helping me thrive in my internship.
The mentorship of the internship has been fabulous. My supervisor has provided helpful tips and feedback. He encouraged me to ask questions about the big picture and take time to interpret how the results of my data analysis impact it. He has been an enormously positive influence. Additionally, my onboarding buddy and the other analysts around the office have been wonderful resources, such that I can ask questions freely and voice my opinions.
Looking back on my internship, I’ve grown enormously in my approach to data analysis/presentation, writing, technical skills, and critical thinking. The biggest surprise of the internship was how much responsibility I was able to have from the beginning. I’ve been given tasks that have pushed me and helped me to learn, while at the same time making a true impact on cases. I would encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest in the intersection of empirical analysis, critical thinking, and microeconomic theory to apply for an internship with CRA. To future interns, I would advise you to not be afraid to ask questions, voice your opinion, and to push yourself.
“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...