Johnson & Johnson Co-op program comes to Villanova

Justin Runquist

Now this is what one might call a multifaceted opportunity.

Johnson & Johnson will be offering eight to 20 full-time, high-salaried positions to University business students next July. But this opportunity will ultimately translate into much more for students, Villanova and Johnson & Johnson.

Never before has the college offered a full-time cooperative education program. By working with the largest healthcare company in the world, the college will gain more industry exposure and better enhance students’ professional experiences.

“It’s a phenomenal opportunity for us to engage a major international corporation to offer experience options to so many of our students,” said Thomas Monahan, dean of the college. “We hope to use this as a model for future internship and co-op programs with other firms in the future. We’re delighted to start with a firm as prestigious as Johnson & Johnson.”

Accepted students will receive training in accounting and finance for its Financial Leadership Development Program , directed by Bob Campbell.

Since its creation in 1997, Campbell said the FLDP co-op program has grown from 27 college students to about 70 to 80 students for 2003. He refers to co-op positions as six-month interviews, where students will have the chance to showcase leadership and talent. Campbell acknowledges that the co-op program will better position students after graduation, although the program will not guarantee a full-time position.

These co-ops provide exposure not only to accounting and finance, but potentially in management areas as well: project teamwork, Six Sigma process excellence, Enterprise Resource Planning technologies and problem solving training sessions.

“This will be real world, invaluable business experience,” Campbell said. “I myself have held 14 different positions in my 29 years with Johnson & Johnson. This is the trademark of what we do here. We constantly provide new, challenging assignments to our people.”

According to Campbell, a co-op position with Johnson & Johnson will be treated as a real job. Students will be expected to apply business skills to real-world applications. Accountants will gain exposure to financial and managerial accounting practices, while finance students will work in areas ranging from strategic planning to research budgeting.

“From an industry standpoint, it’s very important that students gain this work experience,” Monahan said. “A lot of companies are now requiring internship or co-op experience.”

Campbell said he is looking for students who are innovative, creative good problem solvers and good team players. These qualities, along with academic success and good interviews, are what Campbell said he’ll look for in interested C&F students. A minimum of eight students will be selected from Villanova, although as many as 15 to 20 could be selected if they win the interviewing competition over students from other schools.

Students will interview on-campus in February and may work with Johnson & Johnson corporate of New Brunswick, N.J., or with other company subsidiaries. These companies include McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals in Fort Washington, Pa.; Centocor in Malvern, Pa.; Janssen Pharmaceutica of Titusville, N.J.; and the Raritan, N.J.-based Ortho-McNeil.

“It will be up to the students to embrace this opportunity,” said Brenda Stover, director of the new C&F center for advisement and internships. “Students will have to go above and beyond what is expected. And we’ll be here to help.”

“A co-op or internship for every C&F student” was her vision from day one at C&F. It’s a vision that Stover, the center’s staff and the college are now another step closer to reaching. If successful in its early stages, Stover said the program could branch out to other areas, such as marketing and management.

C&F sophomore Greg Seerveld said, “As a potential accounting major, this would give me a great start to corporate accounting. If given this opportunity, it would be a good stepping stone for my career.”

Monahan said, “We are very fortunate to have people in the business community who want to help their clients and Villanova. This is truly a win-win situation for everyone.”

An information session about this co-op program will be held next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Bartley 1011. Leading the session will be Stover, Campbell and other Johnson & Johnson representatives.

Students will earn six free-elective credits for completing the co-op program, while making up the remaining nine credits through night and distance learning courses.

“This will be a big commitment for students who land these positions,” Stover said. “But the potential benefits for their long-term careers will far outweigh the sacrifice.”