I really enjoyed my year at J&J. It was my first chance to work in a Finance role to expand my knowledge. The people at the company are really friendly which makes it an easy and enjoyable place to have your first ‘real’ job. They are also used to having placements at the company so they are good at training and using our skills.
As the teams have placements in them every year, managers are very understanding. They don’t expect you to know everything as you walk through the door, so they invest in your time at the business. I think management value the new knowledge placements bring to the company. I definitely felt like I was a ‘part of the team’ on my placement!
In my role, I worked closely with managers in my team. Their depth of knowledge of the company helped me, and I could learn a lot just from working with them. I could arrange meetings to gain feedback on my work, but mostly I received open feedback as I worked through tasks! There are a lot of online tools to gain training and support. My manager was often checking that I was comfortable with my tasks.
Some weeks I would be really busy, and other weeks would be a bit quieter – it followed the same trend each month due to reporting. On quieter weeks I could work on projects that I had started, and catch up on lower priority tasks. I was rarely ‘too busy’, so there was minimal stress in the role, which was a relief. It was definitely important to stay on-top of things though to avoid missing deadlines.
I realised how much responsibility I had when I started to think about handing over my role to the next placement – there was a lot to teach them! In my role in Finance, I had responsibilities for the Marketing and Supply Chain departments, so there were a lot of people to not let down. I was supported by colleagues, but a lot of projects I worked on were down to me to execute and drive action.
The role was quite different to what I was studying at university. The role gave me a lot of practical experience and allowed me to apply some theories I had learned at university. I think the practical experience of working in a company will help me a lot when applying for roles in the future. The financial training that I took will also set me in good stead for my final year at university.
The office atmosphere was relatively relaxed – the dress code isn’t formal and people are really friendly. It can get quite busy and loud, but it’s generally okay to put headphones in if you need to focus. Mostly, the office is a great place to work, but they are trying to encourage more flexible ways to work (e.g. working from home) when employees require. I feel comfortable around my team, and managers are approachable.
Initially, the placement wasn’t well organised. We were told we would get an induction day in the Spring before we started but this never materialised. The incoming placements did get this opportunity, however. The handover from previous placements definitely helped you fall on your feet when starting the role. Also, the teams are used to having placements in the company, so they don’t expect you to know everything from the start – every year they are dealing with new team members!
We had a few weeks of training and on-the-job inductions at the start. Throughout the year, there were a lot of online trainings to take part in, mainly related to the role. My manager encouraged me to attend meetings with her, even if it was just to listen in, so that my knowledge could grow. She would ask me if there was anything I thought would be useful before returning to university, as they really care about your future development.
The graduate scheme looks great – opportunity to work abroad, good pay and benefits, and mentoring schemes. As it is a global company, there are plenty of opportunities to work up in the company, and I don’t think you’d feel restricted. I have met people who have worked up from the graduate scheme to managerial roles in a few years so there is the opportunity to develop. You do have to apply for the graduate scheme - it isn't handed to you!
There were over 20 placements across different departments in the office I worked in – so there were a lot of people to interact with of the same age group. The social scene was definitely whatever you made of it. Previous years weren’t as close knit as our group, but we chose to organise events outside of work to great a good atmosphere. We went to Ascot, to football games, holidays, and on nights out and meals.
I chose to live further away from the office nearer London – so inevitably the rent didn’t match the income, but I learned to spend wisely. The salary was definitely reasonable for the area, as my peers could afford multiple holidays. I don’t think the area was any more expensive than other places in the South of England.
There no great bars/clubs near the office, but we would go to Reading or just make do! It is the people that make the difference! Some placements shared houses, so we could go to their’s for drinks. London isn’t too far away, especially on the fast trains, so there are plenty of options there. Last minute tickets to the West End are a must.
There are a few work activities, such as a football team and touch rugby team. Other than that, there isn’t much to get involved in. The company occasionally organises charity events that you are encouraged to take part in. I think it would have been good to organise more team events, but we were happy to socialise as a placement group instead.