Charles River Associates Employee Reviews about "junior staff"

Updated Nov 28, 2020

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4.3
91%
Recommend to a Friend
95%
Approve of CEO
Charles River Associates President Paul Maleh
Paul Maleh
185 Ratings
Pros
  • "Good work/life balance as well as fun social/extracurricular events(in 37 reviews)

  • "Junior staff members are not over-staffed on projects(in 20 reviews)

  • Cons
  • "At times unpredictable workload, some long hours(in 31 reviews)

  • "Sometimes unpredictable hours, limit opportunity for junior staff to travel(in 25 reviews)

  • More Pros and Cons
    Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.

    Reviews about "junior staff"

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    1. 5.0
      Former Employee, more than 3 years

      Good first job out of college

      Mar 14, 2020 - Analyst in Oakland, CA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      I worked at CRA in Oakland for 3 years and have been at a different job for 1 year now. It was hard to appreciate the many benefits of my experience at CRA until realizing that it taught me valuable skills that now make me a high performer at my current job. Working at CRA honed my attention to detail and writing skills. I can now write a detailed 10-page data memo (with footnotes and plots!) in just a couple of days. It taught me time management and how to speak up and voice my opinion (and ask questions) during meetings with seniors. Every Oakland senior staffer really likes teaching at heart - so they are always willing to hear your thoughts and questions and walk you through the economic theory and how they think about engaging with the client. The other junior staffers were also amazing co-workers that I still keep in touch with and we always supported each other. The work itself was pretty interesting and when working with the DOJ or FTC you often felt like you were on the side of "good." The economic experts at CRA Oakland hold themselves to a high standard and are not willing to sign a report that they do not themselves agree with - which also means that you can trust that the work you are doing isn't BS. CRA is willing to invest in their junior staff. Many of CRAs junior staff go on to grad school afterwards, and it's something they encourage and the seniors will often help you as much as they can. Office staff is amazing. The office manager in Oakland is one of the sweetest people I have ever met and she truly cares about making CRA a fun and welcoming place to work for everybody.

      Cons

      Long (~60 hrs/week) and often unpredictable hours are the norm, and you're pretty much always expected to work on weekends. In the bay area weekend work is pretty common and I pretty much do at least some work every weekend now, but unlike CRA it's not required and it's fun stuff that I want to do. Base pay is pretty low for the bay area - the quarterly and yearly bonuses are what bring compensation up to the bay area average. Bonuses are mostly tied to billable hours which are often out of your control as an analyst. It's often a high-stress job with tight deadlines. There were a handful of experiences I can think of where emotions ran high and people weren't always acting with the highest level of professionalism.

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      2 people found this review helpful
    2. 1.0
      Former Employee

      Toxic and Stay Away

      Nov 28, 2020 - Associate 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The company still has some reputation from the past especially among graduate schools, but it's surely fading recently as competing companies doing significantly better jobs in everything

      Cons

      - Training and supporting resources are limited. There's one formal training, which is not helpful at all, and then you're on your own. Your training largely depends on how much your practice and your managers care about you personally and if they don't, you're doomed. You're not expected to learn anything that's outside your daily tasks, which put you at a really bad position at the beginning of a career. If you struggle, the only thing HR could do is serve your a PIP and tell you "good luck", instead of offering any substantial help or advice. - Subpar pay. Competing companies such as Cornerstone and Analysis Group pay significantly better than CRA, which means you're doing the exactly the same job for 2/3 of the pay. Also as a result of this, people who could multiple offers all choose other companies and people who have nowhere else to go come here, which ends up with unhappy employees. - Lack of feedback and performance evaluation. There's no formal feedback structures. You need to be very proactive to get feedbacks, which means that you're constantly struggling not knowing how to improve. Bonus and promotion are also black boxes, sometimes people get promotions or higher bonus because the practice head likes their personality better. - Culture. Management doesn't even bother to pretend they care about you as a person or your professional development. They're more interested in how much bonus they could get. I had a VP who's known among junior staff in the office for being hostile towards women, and the HR doesn't bother doing anything because he could bring in clients. I mean it when I say this place is toxic and please stay away for your own sake. I developed serious depression during my time at CRA, with suicidal thoughts; for a few months, I cried very often in my cubicle, struggling to find a way to please my boss. I looked for feedback and advice but no one seems to bother to give me any. I witnessed my close friends at work getting fired out of blue and the management made up horrible reasons to justify why they got fired. Another coworker of mine left because she had a mental breakdown with the pressure from the management. The general attitude is "if you struggle, professionally or personally, we just fire you and find someone else." They don't care about your physical health or mental health. This company is a fine example of "Chew you up and spit you out". I left the company the second I had the opportunity, and I know many of my friends there did or will do the same.

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      9 people found this review helpful

      Charles River Associates Response

      Thank you for providing us with your feedback. I am sorry you have this impression of CRA and it sounds like your experience was particularly difficult. Our goal is for all colleagues to be able to access our robust training programs, feel supported in their professional growth, and to benefit from the myriad wellbeing initiatives including confidential external counselling, access to online wellness resources, and regular events to promote physical, mental and financial health. Importantly, we are committed to engendering an inclusive environment where we demonstrate decency and integrity toward colleagues. Although you note that you are no longer with CRA, I would be happy to speak with you further if you’d like to contact me directly. -- Jen Kordell, CHRO

    3. 4.0
      Former Employee, more than 5 years

      A FAIR an OBJECTIVE review for prospective Junior Staff (A&As)

      Nov 28, 2019 - Consulting Associate in Washington, DC
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      -> the exit opportunities are unreal, especially into prestige MBA, Law, and PhD. Even in 2 years, you will go to a "better" grad program than you would if you work somewhere random - trust me on this one. This is by far the best pro, but only if you care about that kind of thing. -> something about econ consulting attract the smartest (pure and raw intelligence) people you'll ever work with in industry. Mini-con is you'll be spoiled just about everywhere you go in industry after this, hoping to find equally smart people (you won't). -> no risk of getting fired or laid off - very predictable in that way. -> your critical thinking skills and ability to understand a hyper complex system will double or triple in the first year alone -> colleagues are witty, clever, and often quite funny

      Cons

      -> work gets repetitive and monotonous-feeling just after the ~2 year mark -> investment in junior staff training & development is mostly lip service -> they don't tell you this, but without a PhD, promotions from Consulting Associate to Senior Associate take 5 years (at 90% utilization), possibly twice as long if you're closer to 80% -> We're not keeping the world spinning on its axis - this should be a ~45 hour/wk job! Looking back, weekend work & extended hours were NEVER necessary, but were often expected as goodwill / donations to the company -> insane over-emphasis on the arbitrary 80% utilization target, which consciously & subconsciously influences all behaviors within the company

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    4. 3.0
      Current Employee, more than 3 years

      Excellent exit opportunities but not a great job

      Mar 26, 2019 - Associate 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      - Excellent exit opportunities - The junior staff is great

      Cons

      - Conditions for junior staff in the office location that I work in have been grim (at least 5 out of the 12 junior employees are planning to leave the firm in the summer of 2019) - Pay is very stingy and bonuses are extremely pathetic - The senior staff (employees with PhDs) is sometimes rude, too demanding, or even manipulative - There is no incentive to work late or weekends but you are expected to do it - The work is often very labor-intensive. The job is not as intellectually stimulating as it is pitched to be - Staffing on projects is very unorganized. Employees are randomly staffed on projects simply based on their availability.

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      8 people found this review helpful
    5. 3.0
      Former Employee, more than 3 years

      It Depends

      May 17, 2019 - Associate in Boston, MA
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The people are great, generally very supportive and friendly. If junior staffers find one or two senior staff that they can build a strong relationship with, it will open many doors (including some exciting professional opportunities)! At its best, working for CRA is an ideal first job for someone with an economics and quantitative background who is still debating their long-term career plans. It can be a great opportunity to learn in a fun and friendly environment, while preparing for the next step in your career. Plus, alumni have a great track record of going to top-tier graduate programs in business, law, public policy, and more!

      Cons

      A junior staffer's experience is entirely dependent on the practice group, and sometimes also on the office location and specific project teams. For example, some practices (i.e., Energy, Life Sciences) generally offer opportunities for significant professional growth, advancement within the firm, client interaction, and significant ownership of project work - all while building industry-specific expertise and maintaining generally good work-life balance. However, in other practices (i.e., Antitrust & Competition) this is more uncommon and difficult to achieve. Growth opportunities are limited after the first two years. Work-life balance can be non-existent at times (with some offices being far worse than others). The bonus compensation scheme is a black box, and incentives across the board are misaligned for junior staffers. Late-night and weekend work is often expected of junior staff, despite not receiving any additional incentives apart from being told "people will notice you working hard." Project staffing is ad hoc and dependent on a semi-official junior staff "scheduler" in each office to volunteer their time to try to create some order and balance. Due to the flat and unstructured hierarchy, expanding your responsibilities beyond the second year is entirely dependent on finding someone who is willing to delegate to you. Without such a patron, the job can turn into a meditative plug-and-chug. Meanwhile, supervisors are unable to provide concrete support and guidance, as they often don't work directly with their supervisees. At its worst, if you stay more than two years, the job can be extremely frustrating as you struggle to find opportunities for professional growth and maintain a semblance of work-life balance, all while hoping your annual bonus isn't completely deflated by the one or two slow weeks you had a few months ago.

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      9 people found this review helpful
    6. 5.0
      Current Employee, more than 1 year

      Great place to start your career

      Oct 1, 2018 - Associate in Washington, DC
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The people are just the best! The work is very interesting and even as junior staff you're given responsibility and your input is highly valued. Senior staff are always willing to answer your questions. Great environment/culture, with lots of attention given to employees, lots of social opportunities to connect outside the office, lots of support for next steps in your career. Flexible work-life balance, so long as you get your work done. Very supportive and nourishing environment.

      Cons

      The consulting life is a roller-coaster: there are times when you're swamped with work, and times where you have hardly anything to do (though not very often). Could definitely improve raises/bonuses for junior staff.

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    7. 4.0
      Current Employee, more than 1 year

      Associate

      Oct 17, 2018 - Associate 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      CRA is a good place to start a career out of undergrad. You are given lots of learning opportunities and autonomy, exposed to really smart people, and develop solid analytical methods. Compared to other economic consulting firms, work-life balance is generally good - though some cases can be unpredictable. In general, junior staff make friends with each other and senior staff are very knowledgeable and friendly resources.

      Cons

      As a new analyst, you are thrown in with very little training, which is stressful. The learning curve is steep in the first few months.

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    8. 2.0
      Former Employee, more than 1 year

      Mediocre experience.

      Jan 15, 2014 - Associate 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      As a large consulting firm, CRA benefits from economies of scale -- they get big (read: major) economic litigation cases. The firm also has very good (but not outstanding) resources in terms of access to data, journals, newspapers, etc. There are many quality experts working for this firm. Compared to other consulting firms, the academic integrity of the work produced is generally very favorable.

      Cons

      CRA, however, gives its analysts and associates menial work such as reading depositions and case documents for months on end. This wouldn't be quite as bad if the work weren't advertised very differently during recruiting. CRA advertises that it encourages (and expects) analysts and associates to do substantial econometric modeling and data work in support of its cases. Very little of this was realized for me. I entered CRA with 3 years of professional programming and econometric experience and performed minimal econometrics and little programming during my tenure. CRA's upper management, at least in my office, consistently mismanaged projects and the time of junior staff. No matter the attempts at planning, our projects were persistently understaffed and behind schedule. However, with fixed (frequently court-imposed) deadlines, this makes for a deadly combination. The VPs, Consultants, etc. would still be affected by this mismanagement, but analysts and associates felt the impact more acutely. For a large firm with multiple offices and multiple practices, there is a surprising absence of cooperation across offices and practices. While there is some cross-office/practice work, the firm does not utilize available staff very well.

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      1 person found this review helpful
    9. 3.0
      Former Employee, more than 1 year

      Intelligent people with long hours and repetitive work -- needs better compensation

      Mar 12, 2017 - Associate 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Everyone is very intelligent, and they push you to rigorously evaluate your own work. You learn a ton over the first 6 months or so, and gain some valuable experience analyzing data. No office politics or anything like that... it's all economists.

      Cons

      You'll be expected to stop what you're doing and work on weekends / while on vacation if clients ask. Compensation is fine at first, but there's very little room for growth at the junior staff level, which is why most people leave after 2 years or so. Once you climb the initial learning curve, most projects involve the same tasks and don't get more interesting intellectually. The culture has a very bland corporate feel (not necessarily a con depending on what you want).

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    10. 5.0
      Current Employee, more than 10 years

      People Friendly Place to Work

      Apr 2, 2018 - Senior Facilities Manager in Washington, DC
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The company is international and attracts staffers from all over the world. Staffers are allowed the ability to transfer across offices to different cities. Executives in the company understand the importance of sharing their knowledge and time with our junior staff and new comers. The company has great benefits from heath care to social committee fun events.

      Cons

      There should be more transparent support across practices by administrative staffers.

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