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Throughout senior year of college, every aunt/cousin/dentist/stranger asks the same question: What are you doing after graduation? For most of the year I could confidently respond: I will be working in SF as an Analyst for Health Advances. At the time, I had no idea what working there (or anywhere for that matter) would actually be like. After a few months of loving my job, I want to share some information that did not make it into the Health Advances job description.

I was a Product Design major in undergrad, and with experience limited to the engineering of medical devices I was terrified by the depth of scientific knowledge my new co-workers had. Starting at a healthcare strategy consulting firm meant I was diving into multiple new areas of study for the first time. My fears quickly disappeared. Health Advances has an unbelievable training program that features full time instruction and activities for seven weeks. We learn about industry, business strategy, software, and how to tackle the broad questions that clients need answered. It is informative and interactive, and the widely shared distribution of training responsibilities amongst all employees allows us to meet people at every level of the company. Constant feedback facilitates our growth as both people and professionals at an incredible rate. At the end of the seven weeks, the new hires apply everything we have learned by completing our own internal mini-case. We can complete every step and feel prepared to actively contribute to real client cases. Once on client cases, we get to become experts in a niche area of healthcare over the course of a few weeks. Last year I did not understand the mechanism and therapeutics related to a family member’s autoimmune disease – now I do. Last week I did not know how to talk to my roommate about his digital pathology startup – this week I do. I am excited to continue expanding my base of knowledge across all areas of healthcare.

Health Advances cares about its people above all else. Entering the company, you are assigned a buddy and a mentor. My buddy answered a lot of my more pressing questions: What do people wear to the office? Where do I park my bike? Where is the best local coffee shop? When I arrived, my buddy even had a plant waiting for me at my desk. He took me for lunch and coffee, and made sure I was adjusting well to life at Health Advances. My mentor is a rock star. She is one of many confident, successful, and incredibly intelligent women in a leadership position at the company. The strong female presence is a huge asset at Health Advances, and I feel that I have a tremendous number of people from which to model professional behavior. For women at the intersection of business, science, and engineering, this is really special. My mentor makes sure that my professional development goals are being met – from case and committee assignments to work-life balance checks. Health Advances wants to play to people’s strengths and passions, and has the structures in place to help you excel. Specifically with work-life balance, Health Advances has a very family-friendly approach. Hours are not logged to make sure you are at your desk, but to make sure you leave it. While late nights do happen for tight deadlines, the Partners never want that to be your regular schedule. They want to know if you are overwhelmed and will make changes accordingly. The Partners are also surprisingly accessible. I, a lowly Analyst, have had ample opportunity to converse in person and exchange emails with Partners to discuss parts of our business that I find particularly exciting to work on.

As an over-eager, extroverted person, I was concerned about having to stay too serious in the workplace. My concerns were instantly put to rest by Health Advances’ supportive and friendly culture. Our training class of eight Analysts talk and help each other throughout the day, and socialize together in the evenings. After settling into the SF office, I am thrilled by the balance of professional and personal interactions. Busy sounds of keyboards are lightened by shared laughter and calls for coffee breaks, and we spend time together outside of work every week. I look up to my co-workers and am far happier at a desk than active-college-me thought I could be.