Career News, Updates & Insights

Life as an intern in Cambridge, UK – part 1

Hi, I’m Nick Reid, and I’m an intern in the Life Sciences Practice at CRA in the Cambridge, UK office. I’m from a small village called Dromara in Northern Ireland, and I currently study Biomedical Sciences at the University of Edinburgh (I’m good at choosing places with bad weather). Outside of uni and work, I’m keen on running and swimming to keep fit.
While applying for internships online, I was drawn to CRA by the strong reputation the company has in the consulting field. With its recent acquisitions, it appeared to be a growing company with a bright future.
As is the case with most interns, during my time at CRA, I hope to find out if consulting is a profession that I am best suited for and also if CRA is a good fit for me. Something I reckon I’ll find challenging during the ten week internship is appropriately dedicating time to different projects and improving my ability to split workloads. Regardless, time management will be a good skill to learn. Because I’m in the Life Sciences Practice, I’m very excited to learn about the medical devices and drugs being developed behind the scenes, and I’m keen to be apart of their arrival to market.
Average Day
Each day as a CRA analyst involves two crucial resources: e-mail and Google. Every day I arrive to the office at 9 am and check emails. I then pick up where I left off the previous evening with project-related work and catch up with my project team to discuss developments.
At CRA, our work is done in teams of about 6 people. Interns have two levels of colleagues to report to, with juniors as our first port of call. Then we turn to senior staff for final work-product review before it reaches the client. This system works smoothly: it allows us to quickly learn what a client wants, and it shows us how to make our deliverable information concise. My daily job involves both primary and secondary research of project-relevant materials and then gathering this data into a presentable format.
The work environment is very friendly as everyone is approachable. This is the benefit of working on teams; it’s in everyone’s best interest to help one another. There is no office hostility whatsoever. As analysts on the team, we typically interact with our project manager who regularly reviews our material. This data is then sent from the project manager to the project leader who ultimately reviews everything before it reaches the client. In the Life Sciences Practice at CRA, we work with a huge range of pharmaceutical, medical devices, and life science companies who bring new drugs or devices to market or produce advisory toolkits for clients.
CRA’s Culture 
As Cambridge is very small, I walk to work everyday which takes around 15 minutes. Our office is situated right next to the train station. The office is brand new – it’s very modern and stylish. I ended up in Cambridge because I thought I would enjoy a change of scenery for a smaller town atmosphere. I’m used to living in the middle of a city when I’m at university in Edinburgh.
The office only has 16 employees, which means we are all familiar with each other. We have lunch together everyday, and it’s great to have some banter together after morning rush because it breaks up the day well.
The office dress code is “business casual”. We wear suit trousers and a shirt, no formal ties or such, and on “dress down Fridays” we can wear jeans and a t-shirt, which is a good intro to the weekend.
Come back next week to hear Nick share more about Learning & Professional Development, mentorship, and a final reflection on his time at CRA.