If there is one aspect of the culture at CRA that is heavily emphasized, it is the atmosphere of teaching and learning. You are not only invited, but encouraged to ask questions of both your peers and your managers. When you first begin, you are given an onboarding buddy who is your designated mentor, but that does not mean that he or she is the only resource you have. In my first few months here, I asked questions of almost everyone, and I was amazed at the positive response I received. I would (and sometimes still do) go around the office asking questions of various junior staff, so as not to burden one person in particular with a barrage of inquiries. Not only were my peers willing to answer, but I got a sense of genuine enthusiasm in helping me improve. When my onboarding buddy found out I was trying to teach myself Python, he sent an e-mail with links to several different online resources and IDEs. There was even a member of the senior staff who would come over to my desk and give me personal, one-on-one lessons in programming. This was not because these people had a lot of time on their hands, but because they realized that when one person in the practice improves, the practice as a whole improves as well.
You will quickly find that CRA employees’ doors are always open. While you would be well advised to ask more basic questions of fellow junior staffers, you should not be afraid to talk to your managers as well. I remember one experience I had with my project manager, wherein I called her to ask a question and less than three minutes later I had another question. I didn’t know whether I should call again so soon, so I talked to my mentor, Phil (pictured below). He explained that I should NEVER be afraid to call and ask questions, no matter how often they may come up. Sure enough, when I called my manager back, she assured me there is no such thing as too many clarifying questions.
The other great aspect of practice culture at CRA is that your colleagues want to set you up for future success, even beyond CRA. My supervisor encouraged me to let her know as soon as possible when I figured out what sort of graduate school I might be interested in. As soon as I told her that I would be interested in pursuing a JD, she immediately offered to put me in touch with some of the antitrust lawyers with whom she’d previously worked. But it didn’t end there. There was an associate who used to sit next to me that recently left CRA. Since he knew I was interested in law, he put me in touch with one of his project managers before he left because he thought a particular case would suit my interests. He said in his entire time at CRA, he never worked on a case where he had more direct interaction with counsel, so he wanted to pass the work off to me. I am really grateful to be a part of a company that cares so much about my personal success, and not just the success of the practice and firm.
“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...