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The Secrets of a Great Associate Researcher

Posted by Elizabeth Schrimpf on Wed, Sep 04, 2013

CMB AssociateYou might call me a CMB “success story” (seriously, go ahead it has a nice ring to it), in a few short years I’ve made the journey from intern to Project Manager. Because I know my way around these parts, I’m often asked to interview Associate Researcher candidates. I like to think I’ve worked here long enough, and in enough roles, to vet whether a candidate is the “right fit for CMB." Through numerous interviews I’ve come up with a few questions I ask all candidates regardless of position. One of my favorites: what is it about you specifically, that would make you an excellent fit for this position?The Associate Research position is quite technical, requiring a strict attention to detail and programming skills in various platforms, so of course, the first thing I listen for is an attention to detail and strong problem solving skills. However, what I am really looking for is the desire and ability to work “in the weeds” as we call it and then surface for air and impart value to the project strategically; someone who is as enthusiastic and engaged in how our work is used by our clients as they are in the work itself. To me, the difference between a good associate and a great associate is one who is not just a worker bee but a thinker bee.  Not only is this beneficial to projects, but the daily work becomes more satisfying when associates are as invested in the meaning of the data as they are in the accuracy of the data.

Recently, I was discussing the Business Decision Worksheet (one of the tools we use to stay focused on how our clients will use their data) when a senior level colleague mentioned that he encourages all levels of employees to take on the work of the level above them. That is exactly the sentiment I want to hear from candidates interviewing at CMB, and it’s exactly why I am not the only “success story” around here.  Encouraging employees to work to the next level, with the support and guidance of the most senior staff, prepares them for the next level, ensuring smooth transitions and a capable project team.

Given that several candidates I’ve interviewed are currently employed at CMB, I would like to think that they were wooed as much by my rousing speech on engaging project work and growth opportunities as they were by the promise of free beer on Friday afternoons.

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Elizabeth is a Project Manager at CMB. In addition to 4+ years of experience at CMB, she has honed her interviewing skills during her work with the Moving Ahead Program at St. Francis House, a 14-week life skills and job readiness program for unemployed ex-offenders and other individuals with histories of substance abuse, homelessness, or mental illness, participating in mock interviews and resume reviews.



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