When I moved to Washington, D.C. in June 2019 to begin my position as a Management Analyst with The Craddock Group, I did not fully understand government contracting and its role in supporting and managing the operations of so many federal and local government agencies. Over the last nine months working as a government contractor, I have learned that The Craddock Group is essentially a niche management consulting organization that specializes in advising government agencies. I have developed consulting, technical and analytical skills, and work towards mastery of the Microsoft Office applications. I interact regularly with clients, and help the team develop innovative solutions to our clients’ challenges. Working (indirectly) for the government alongside a team of private-sector professionals has already taught me many valuable personal and professional skills, including flexibility, patience, and persistence.
During my senior year at Davidson, I came across The Craddock Group’s Handshake posting for an entry-level “Management Analyst.” I felt inspired by the company’s mission and excited by the goals described on the company’s webpage – I knew I had found a good opportunity. The job description emphasized the firm’s specialties, which include real estate services, capital planning, strategy and management consulting, and federal budgeting and financial management. I liked that these capabilities were broad and would offer me exposure to multiple subject matter areas that aligned well with my interests and academic background.
I was immediately drawn to the firm’s focus on real estate services. With a background in residential real estate, I was eager to relate my personal experience to the real estate consulting services The Craddock Group provides to its government clients. While I was fully aware that residential real estate is an entirely different practice than public sector commercial real estate, this seemed like an opportunity for me to apply what I had learned through a prior summer internship and evolve it in the context of intergovernmental relations and navigating the challenges of federal agencies. As a political science and economics double major, I was excited about the interaction between the private sector and government entities. I was familiar with the vast complexities of the government bureaucracy and could envision the benefit of a private sector perspective in the strategic management and optimization of the government’s real property portfolio.
The Craddock Group is a small firm, comprised of less than 25 team members. The firm employs a talented group of private sector professionals and former members of the military and federal government, who support one another and are constantly learning from each other. The environment of The Craddock Group is a lot like the student body at Davidson – small in number, but rich in experience, skill, and the capacity to succeed in accomplishing any given objective. We operate in a supportive and collaborative community, that is welcoming and encouraging. The nature of the contract-based work splits the team into smaller project teams that support clients on different initiatives, yet there is unity and comradery across the entire team. I learned quickly that this was the type of company that takes pride in its people and whose goal is to teach new hires by immediately immersing them in ongoing projects and giving them direct, hands-on opportunities to contribute.
At The Craddock Group, we learn by doing. I was not, by any means, an expert in the subject matter, nor was it the expectation that I came to the firm with an extensive real estate and capital planning background. Instead, my value lay in the skills that Davidson teaches through its liberal arts coursework that prepares students to communicate effectively, accept challenges to master new skills, and learn quickly. As an analyst, I am tasked with projects that I have no prior experience with and given the freedom to tackle the project and learn the process firsthand. From the beginning, I have been directly involved in supporting ongoing projects by working on-site at the client’s office, participating in frequent meetings with internal team members and clients, and collaborating with my teammates to produce high quality materials and tools that are delivered to our clients. As with any new job, there was a learning curve, but my colleagues have answered all my questions, provided advice and feedback along the way, and helped me fully integrate into the company. Frequent interaction with senior team members has been an unparalleled tool that I will continue to benefit and learn from.
As analysts, we process information relating to the client or project at hand by organizing, synthesizing, and analyzing data, and then working to develop insights, strategies, and recommendations to streamline the client’s mission and operations. Tasks often involve developing PowerPoint presentations on thoroughly researched materials and information, and creating data tools that store information and manage the client’s records, allowing us to analyze trends, identify issues, and present graphics and reports that demonstrate the portfolio of assets and capital projects.
We operate in a project-based environment with a specific team assigned to carry out the tasks associated with a given contract. The diverse range of projects require a wide range of skills to produce deliverables that satisfy the unique requirements of a particular contract. The variety of work constantly exposes me to new challenges that we seek to resolve as a team. It also makes each day and each week very different from the next. The Craddock Group has provided me with the opportunity to develop invaluable technical and interpersonal skills in the workforce from mentors whose expertise I admire, while also learning in an environment that encourages innovation and creativity.
Advice to Current Davidson Students
As a recent college graduate, my advice in navigating the job search is to carefully consider a prospective firm’s culture to determine whether or not the type of work and work environment will be suitable for you. As I have experienced in my time as an analyst at The Craddock Group, you do not need to be an expert in the industry on day one, but instead, you need to be willing to learn, engage with new challenges, create connections, and be flexible in adapting to the project flow.