About my placement: Rebecca Pipes (BSc Hons Marketing Management)

My placement experience so far …

As another summer approaches and the next cohort begin to reflect on their decisions to take a placement year or not, I thought it would be a great time to share my placement experience to date.

I am currently on placement at Johnson & Johnson, in the Medical division, working specifically within the UK/Ireland Vision team. Prior to this, I have undertaken 2 years on the BSc Hons Marketing Management course.

As a placement student, I am treated as an integral part of the team and the responsibility and flexibility within my role is highly rewarding. It is amazing to work in a united team who I support but equally they have been incremental to helping me on my journey over the last few months.

I have had great exposure to retailers through working closely with the Key Account Team for Specsavers, Boots and Vision Express, from being the marketing lead for a retailer conference and shaping the execution for a UK roadshow of experiential events that required me to produce print, digital and stand creatives, navigate changing timelines and adapt brand messages.

I continue to collaborate with the Brand Managers to drive forward our social media platforms and produce B2C content both digitally and in print. Coupled with B2C projects, I have engaged in projects of a B2B nature to educate Opticians on our technology, latest product launches and demonstrate how we are routed in science. I have worked alongside Key Account, Sales and Eye Care Professional teams as well as Regional, developing skills in cross functional communication.

Naturally, in amongst all these large projects, I have admin responsibilities such as being the key colleague in the UK team for the copy approval process and responsibility for budget and raising orders and managing our warehouse and logistics company daily. However, with these tasks presents an ability to have oversight of all the projects that happen in the organisation and exposure to connecting with our teams in Jacksonville. I try and exceed what is required of me and think holistically around these tasks and through doing so, I have identified ways the business can be more efficient and effective in these areas both financially and sustainably.

This placement is so much more than a statement to put on your CV, these past few months have allowed me to develop my networks and build rapport with others both professionally and personally. I love talking to people so the opportunity to engage with our creative, media and PR agencies daily is fulfilling. Understanding the role of marketing beyond the lecture theatre is incredibly enlightening and will allow me to start my final year with a much more critical mindset, a key skill to demonstrate in University assignments. I will now have over a years work of industry level work experience before I graduate which (fingers crossed) will increase my chances of securing a graduate level job.

Placement high …

So far, I have been fortunate enough to be awarded with 6 Inspire Awards. An internal recognition that is awarded when an employee goes above and beyond the ask or completes something that should be recognised. These awards have given me the confidence in my own ability and the reassurance that I have helped my peers to deliver.

Placement low …

Honestly, this is hard to answer. For me there have been so many pros to my placement, but I am not going to sit here and pretend it is always easy. For me, I think the hardest point was the application phase and relocating for a year to an area where you know very few people, if anyone, and unlike University you aren’t in a bubble of people in the same position as you. However, this all has a positive spin. Although looking for a placement is time consuming, persevere as reaching the assessment centre stage at several multiple international companies has given me confidence in my own ability. Relocating to a new area is now like second nature and has allowed me to experience a wonderful part of the country that I can envisage myself moving to in the future.

Biggest learning …

To say no (or at least manage expectations). I think there are so many occasions in life where saying yes is the norm, or there is an expectation to do so. I have learnt that it is acceptable to say no or at least reply ‘of course I am more than happy to do this for you however, I will not be able to support until next week’. We must cherish and manage our time because no one else is going to do this for us – time management is key – we cannot do everything!

I genuinely cannot recommend undertaking a placement year enough and if you are in the position to do so – relish the opportunity with open arms – I do not think you will look back on your decision with regret, whether you decide it is the direction you want to take for your career or not – it is an amazing learning experience allowing you to test-drive a career before you commit. If a placement year is not an option, remember some companies offer internships for a shorter period.

9 months gone / 4 months to go – I cannot believe how fast my placement has gone and how little time I have left. I am going to miss being in the office and surrounded by an amazing, intelligent and supportive team but equally looking forward to my final year as I return to Lancaster University.