We recently spoke to Wendy Jones about how she secured a year-long placement with Johnson & Johnson. She talks about why she chose them, what was tough about the application process and her top tips for members looking to follow in her footsteps.
Why did you choose Johnson and Johnson?
I was first introduced to Johnson & Johnson through an article I read about their dedication to researching the prevention, interception and detection of early-stage lung cancer. This article sparked my interest and I decided to pursue a placement with Johnson & Johnson because of their strong patient focus and the profound measurable impact that they’re making on the world through innovation. When I was reading through the company's Credo, I saw a lot of core values that mirrored my work ethics and beliefs - their culture of empowerment and inclusivity was also highly compatible with my working style.
One of the things that particularly stood out for me was the structure of their 12-month placement program – there was a large emphasis on learning about the business, personal growth and professional development. As I study Genetics at university, I spent the majority of my time in the lab doing experiments. Therefore, I really wanted a placement where I could utilise my scientific knowledge and have an impact on the healthcare industry whilst working in an office-based environment. As one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Johnson & Johnson provided the unique opportunity to undertake a Drug Safety Scientist Placement (which is a placement not commonly provided by pharmaceutical companies) in the Janssen division.
Was there anything in the application process you found particularly tough? And how did you go about tackling it?
The hardest part for me was definitely the group task. I’ve never been to an assessment centre before, so I was particularly worried about going into a group exercise - a situation where you have to stand out from other candidates whilst being in the same room. In order to prepare for this, I did a lot of research online. Funnily enough, I used The Bright Network’s “Top tips to succeed in a group exercise” webpage which gave me a great insight into the best way to navigate the group task. There was a wealth of information available online from different recruitment companies which were also very beneficial. I also utilised the University of Leicester’s Career Department. They ran a mock assessment centre which I attended that included a group exercise. I found this particularly helpful as it gave me an opportunity to gauge how I would perform in the group exercise under pressure and I was also able to receive some excellent constructive feedback. Luckily enough, the recruiters went the extra mile to ensure that candidates felt at ease and comfortable so that we could perform our best.
What top tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
- Build a strong CV and cover letter - For most students (including me) this is the most dreaded part of applying to internships! To get to the interview stage you need to first have a strong CV. Start tailoring your CV and cover letter as soon as possible. Give yourself plenty of time for it to be proofread by your friends, family or even better utilise your universities career service. If you’re struggling to get content for your CV, try volunteering. There is an abundance of opportunities out there, and it is a great way to gain transferable skills that will be key to a successful application.
- Prepare as much as you can - If you’re going to an assessment centre or interview you never know what curveball the interviewer might throw at you. Do as much research as you can into the current affairs of the industry, the different sectors of the business and the role you are applying for. I remember asking a great question about the impact of Brexit which I later found out impressed the recruiters. Some particularly good topics to research into that will make you stand out are the growth of the company/industry in the next 10 years and extracurricular activities/projects or employee groups that you can get involved with at that company.
- Keep a track of all your applications – Applying for industrial placements during your second year can be very intense especially when you have university coursework and exams still to prepare for. A method that worked well for me was to assign days that I would work on specific applications for placement opportunities that I wanted to apply for - this helped me to create strong applications as I was able to prioritise and focus on one application at a time. In my opinion, it is better to send out five strong applications than 10 mediocre ones! I also used an excel spreadsheet to log all the applications I sent out so that I had a centralised hub for all my placement opportunities.
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
I first saw the placement advertised on The Bright Network, so I used this as my portal throughout all application phases. There were many stages to the application process, and the Bright Network had information, resources and guidance that I used consistently. Coming from a science background, commercial awareness was never something that I had a wealth of knowledge about. However, the commercial awareness updates that The Bright Network provided really helped me in my interview especially when it came to asking insightful questions at the end.
What’s been the toughest interview question you faced?
“Tell us a bit about yourself”. The interview is competency-based which is easier as you can just draw from your experiences stated on your CV. The hardest bit for me was to summarise years of life in a one-minute speech.