During my year I supported a regional level team in the commerical department of the pharmaceutical company of JnJ (Janssen).
The role involves working across 2 therapeutic areas Psychiatry and Immunology in terms of providing long term strategic guidance and material which support the operating countries who have the products approved in their markets.
Overall I have had a great placement year! The opportunities I have had have far outshone my expectations. The role allowed me to shaped my own work, contribute and lead regional projects, travel and interact with a variety of different functions and teams!
I have felt a valued member in all the teams I have worked in throughout my placement year! The nature of my role involved working across different therapeutic areas which meant by the end of my placement working across three very different teams. This gives great exposure to colleagues and the business however at times it did limit the responsibilities given, as rather than being a committed and fully established member of one team, I was stretching my work load.
I have had the pleasure of receiving some fantastic support and guidance which greatly helped with my work, future plans and career guidance. I believe the management role of a placement student is very different to other employees- as the most impactful managers have more of a mentoring approach to guide you through the year. Across the year I have reported to three line managers which unfortunately has affected the support I have received as it limits the relationship which you build over time. Particularly at the beginning of my placement I feel there could have been more support in terms of managing the process of adapting to corporate regional work -which is very different to university! As I worked within a regional team this often meant my line manager was travelling, contributing in important calls and we had very limited face to face interaction which lead to our meetings being less of a priority. Despite this I have built strong relationships with some great managers who's support and advice has been invaluable in terms of personal and career development.
The balance of work and social life has been fantastic. At the beginning of my placement I sometimes found myself a loose ends, in contrast there were certain weeks across the year which required working overtime. Despite this in my role I had full responsibility of my time and work load. Therefore if I found yourself greatly under or over worked it was likely down to my organisation in terms of balancing and communicating different projects.
The responsibility I have had this year has been fantastic in term of both responsibility of my own working approach and the types of projects I have worked on. Your responsibility naturally grows throughout the year, starting with general admin jobs whilst you learn about the business and the more you understand the more you can identify where you can add value. Some key projects I have led have been strategic guidance of brand co-positioning, development of congress apps and creation of marketing e mailer campaigns.
I feel that I can definitely carry my skills from placement year to my final year of study regarding time organisation, self motivation and work balance. In addition, the invaluable skills regarding real world culture have shaped me into a much more confident individual. Finally, my placement has related theories from my degree (Advertising and Marketing Management) and I now have a much deeper understanding in how the theory is practiced in the real working world - something you can never learn from reading a textbook!
As I worked on a regional EMEA role, the office was often quite empty as many colleagues were travelling or took their calls from home. Strangely I actually really enjoyed this aspect - it meant that if I wanted to listen to some music and get work done I could without distractions! The on site gym, Costa and cafeteria areas were always busy and were great places to get a break from you desk!
The placement scheme was very well set up with a full 2 week handover period where you were introduced along with the previous student too all the on going projects/system in place.
The company invested lots in terms of personal training and development. they ran full day workshops for CV's and presentation skills. In addition I completed psychological tests one called 'strenghsfinder' and another called 'insights' which focused on understand your style of work and how best to work with others. These have both been more useful than I ever could have anticipated in terms of how best to work with colleagues and adapt your style of work. Finally I had an excellent 2 day training course called 'Thinking Environment', this was a training course devoted to working in virtual environments (telephone/ teleconferences) and how to make the best use from these meetings. This has also really aided me for my placement year, as due to fact I worked on a regional level almost all my meetings were over WebEx which takes some getting used to!
Despite a great year i have made the decision not to apply for the graduate scheme (which I would have a good chance of getting should I apply). This is because I feel I can relate my business skills to an industry I am really passionate about and interested in - considering that I never choose to work for the pharmaceutical company, you just get placed into either Consumer, medical devices or pharama sector depending on you application. Adding to that after spending a year down south in High Wycombe, I am not keen to move back to this area of the country and would prefer to have work closer to home and my girlfriend. I also plan to take some time off after university to travel and reflect on my career path before committing to a grad scheme. Having said that, JnJ is such a great company and it was definitely a big decision not to apply to come back- who knows maybe I will return later on in my career?
The social scene this year has not been too bad. There are 12 placement students here, most of whom are in long distance relationships meaning that more often than not people were away at the weekends. This meant that social events were difficult to organise as people have very busy personal lives outside of the placement group. Having said that we have got together on occasions for big nights out, cinema, food etc... and get on well as a group when we do manage to organise something in good time!
It is much more expensive than up north (as this is where i am from) but no way near as expensive as London which is actually only 30 mins train journey away. Rent and bills took a good half of my pay meaning that in terms of socialising money it took a healthy chunk from that for very average accommodation! Having said that you pay a fraction of London prices, and the fact I am from the north probably has an impact on the value for money I am used to!
Pretty poor if I am being honest - High Wycombe does not have a lot going for it in terms of nightlife, just a couple of bars and pubs. If we fancied a big night out we went to Beaconsfield, Reading or London which are all relevantly close to get too.
The placement group as mentioned have organised some events across the year and get on pretty well. In addition to that there is a football group which I have played for every Wednesday which has been good fun. I have also connected with colleagues through the gym, free fitness classes and table tennis which is all on site!