anding an internship can be a great path to a full-time job after college. But once you’ve gotten your foot in the door as an intern, you want to show your new employer just what you’re capable of. The worst thing you can do is stand idly by while going through the motions, hoping that — fingers crossed — you’ll be noticed and offered a permanent position.
So how do you convert your internship into a full-fledged career? To find out, we spoke with three employees at Johnson & Johnson who were able to accomplish just that.
Saying Yes Isn’t Enough
Vivian Liang is in the R&D Leadership Development Program (RDLDP) within one of our medical device companies, where she works on new product development for sports medicine. She’s part of a team that works on soft tissue repair and developed devices like shoulder implants to help athletes and others suffering from arthritis recover full use of their shoulders.
While attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute, she landed an internship at Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Synthes. During her internship, she got to collaborate with different teams of engineers that were designing and testing new medical devices. Her work included testing and data analysis to support the development of Speedtrap™, a revolutionary new needleless method for whipstitching tendons faster and without the risk of suture piercing, leading to shorter and safer procedures.
But even though her internship was filled with challenging and rewarding responsibilities, Vivian quickly realized that merely doing your job isn’t enough.
“What really resonated with me throughout my internship was, instead of having an attitude of ‘what do I need to do,’ it was more ‘how can I help?’” she said. “That really makes you stand out. You sit in your cube, and maybe people come to you with their requests, and while you can perform those tasks successfully, you won’t be memorable because you didn’t actively communicate your interests.”
What really resonated with me throughout my internship was, instead of having an attitude of ‘what do I need to do,’ it was more ‘how can I help?
Vivian learned that you can’t just nod your head and perform your tasks efficiently — you also have to be able to convey your passion to coworkers. She knew the importance of networking and volunteered to be on several different project teams, always asking how she could help. Her persistence paid off, and she was offered a job as an R&D Engineer I at DePuy Synthes. And once she finished her graduate degree, she was eligible to join the Research & Development Leadership Development Program. At the same time, she earned a promotion to R&D Engineer II. She also currently serves as Lab Manager, a rotational position she holds as part of her duties in the RDLDP.
Connect with the Company’s Mission
Today, Anthony Kang is an HR leader at Johnson & Johnson’s Vogue International, a major manufacturer and distributor of hair care and personal care products. But he might not have landed that job if he hadn’t experienced a major turning point during his internship.
After a brief stint working in the aerospace and defense industry, he entered Johnson & Johnson’s Human Resources Leadership Development Program. There, he was part of an organizational change management team responsible for helping roll out a new enterprise learning management system. At the time, Johnson & Johnson had about ten different learning management systems (LMS), all of which were decentralized. Bringing them all together under one umbrella was no easy task, and he was impressed that he was given the independence to bring his expertise to the work at hand.
“My manager truly empowered me to have that autonomy while giving me guidance each step of the way,” he said. "As an intern, it was humbling having a manager let me run with this."
At the end of the summer, all of the interns had to deliver a final presentation to an audience of HR senior and executive leaders that focused on what they had accomplished, who they are as a person, and why they wanted to join the organization. Just days before that happened, Anthony found out that his uncle had gone to the ER due to complications from diabetes. At that moment, he realized that as a representative in HR, he would have an impact on the people within Johnson & Johnson, including the scientists and researchers working to fight diabetes. In a very real sense, he was contributing to the development of treatments that would directly benefit his uncle and millions of people with the same condition.
Everything he did was tied to the larger mission. Of course, it was important to have a one-stop shop for training and data management — but this new LMS could potentially give one of their scientists the next breakthrough idea that could cure diabetes.
“The work that I do is helping this company combat a global epidemic,” he said. “We're all human and we only get this one life to make an impact with the work that we do. The fact that you can link up the work you do at Johnson & Johnson to a higher purpose around creating healthier and happier lives was pretty profound for me.”
The fact that you can link up the work you do at Johnson & Johnson to a higher purpose around creating healthier and happier lives was pretty profound for me.
Like Vivian, Anthony realized that just doing your job wasn’t enough to land him a full-time offer.
“Always challenge yourself by taking your work and seeing how it fits into the big picture,” he said.
Think of your Internship as a Six-Month Interview
While taking business classes as a freshman at Villanova University, Stephanie Car was assigned to write about the companies that students wanted to work for after graduation. To do that, she had to figure out what those companies actually were. Johnson & Johnson made the list, and Stephanie added us to her list — of places she’d like to work, that is. During her junior year, she applied for and received a position within Johnson & Johnson’s Brand Marketing CoOp Program.
She had a variety of responsibilities during her internship, including creating a playbook for the acne category. After conducting the market research and doing a deep-dive into what our competitors were doing, she compiled her insights into a report. Her team was so impressed by Stephanie's research that her former manager still uses her report as a playbook for how Johnson & Johnson can best corner the acne market.
“One of the things that’s awesome about the program is that you’re doing real work,” Stephanie said. She participated in the program under the Johnson & Johnson’s Family of Consumer Companies while studying at the Villanova University School of Business. “The projects you’re given are real business needs, and it’s so rewarding to see how your work gets leveraged.”
Stephanie also knew it was essential to keep in touch with the people she was meeting during her CoOp to stay fresh in their minds, whether it was for a quick cup of coffee or a phone call.
“It’s a relationship-oriented company,” she said. “People always say that, but it’s very true. People want to help other people who have a goal and who are driven.”
She received an offer shortly after her internship was over, but right from the start, she laid the groundwork to get where she is today.
“I was in the mindset that this was a six-month interview,” Stephanie said. “I really took the opportunity to network with people and ask questions and express my interests throughout the duration of my CoOp.”
Two years later, it’s no coincidence that Stephanie is now the Assistant Brand Manager for Desitin®, and her rapid ascent has been nothing short of meteoric — thanks, in large part, to the hard work, relationship-building, and professionalism she demonstrated during her CoOp.
Putting it all Together
Learning the ropes and navigating your internship can be tricky, but building your network, asking a lot of questions, actively seeking out ways to make an impact at work can help turn your internship into a career. If your team — including your manager and coworkers — can see your passion for the work you’re doing and the company’s mission, all the better.
If you’re looking for a fulfilling career that makes a real difference, Johnson & Johnson has many opportunities to consider. Learn more about our career opportunities and apply today. We can’t wait to meet you!