Career News, Updates & Insights

Ten weeks in London

My name is Lucy Thompson, and I interned in the Life Sciences Practice in CRA’s London office for ten weeks. I just completed my second year at the University of Cambridge studying Biological Natural Sciences. In October I will be starting my final year, specialising in Pharmacology. I live south of London in Kent (about an hour commute), and outside of work I am a keen runner, netball player and horse rider, and enjoy travelling and spending time in the countryside.

I first heard about the CRA internship on the company’s website whilst searching for Life Sciences-specific internships. I was drawn to CRA because I saw that the London Life Sciences team was relatively small. This suited my needs because I could get to know everyone and have an impact on projects, thereby making the most of my experience. I am the only intern in the London Life Sciences group, but there are two more interns in the practice in Cambridge as well as several other London interns across other practices. Initially I was looking for an internship with the goal of helping me make an informed decision about my plans after graduating, but the internship with CRA has also taught me about adapting to working life too!

As an intern, I have been a member of two different project teams and assisted on several others. Day-to-day I spend time conducting secondary research, develop slides for client presentations, participate in regular team meetings, and attend amazingly frequent practice-wide informative sessions called ‘Lunch & Learns’! The perks at CRA don’t end at free food though. Over the last several weeks I have attended many intern and practice-wide social events after work.

During my internship, I have been fortunate to work alongside extremely intelligent and experienced people across all levels of the Life Sciences practice. Every person was always willing to put time aside to explain tasks or give me additional guidance and support where I needed it. The working environment in Life Sciences is brilliant. Besides everyone being incredibly welcoming, the culture facilitates hard work yet allows for work-life balance.

Much of the work in Life Sciences is in the form of projects, whereby a team of 4-7 people are tasked with addressing objectives set out by a client, for instance a pharmaceutical company. From my (limited) experience, typical projects last about 3 months and tend to be split into three broad phases: secondary research and landscape assessments; primary market research; and final conclusions and delivery. I think the best part of the work is the variety that it presents – no two projects are the same, whether they are focused on a novel disease area, a new market’s regulatory process or an updated project approach. Though the initial learning curve can be steep, within the first few days I had already learnt the meaning of an insane number of acronyms (HTA = health technology assessment, PMR = primary market research, P&MA = pricing and market access, and so on).

Aside from acronyms, I have developed many important skills during my internship. The value of effective communication in the workplace is very evident, and I have learnt a lot about the organized approach with which consultants here conduct their work. I have built upon my research skills and received intern-specific training on Excel shortcuts and how to write effectively, both of which will be useful in the future. I even had the opportunity to meet the CEO (over Skype) and hear about his experiences at CRA!