From Conference Attendee to J&J Intern: Profile of Vanessa Beke

Vanessa Beke headshotVanessa Beke made a career-defining move when she decided to attend last year’s IMA Student Leadership Conference in Pittsburgh.

Vanessa, a student at Johnson & Wales University (JWU) Charlotte, had signed up for the conference eager to hear from inspiring speakers, meet students from across the U.S., and learn about the companies that were interviewing onsite. Two that caught her eye were Johnson & Johnson and the FDIC.

She signed up for a Johnson & Johnson interview and to get prepared, Vanessa did her homework. “I learned as much as I could about the company, including being familiar with its famous and important Credo,” she says. The interviewer was impressed by Vanessa’s preparation and background and two weeks later, Vanessa had another brief video interview, after which she learned that she had been selected for J&J’s summer internship program. The next step: complete a survey to determine what company location would be most suitable for her.

Vanessa spent more than two months this summer as an intern at Johnson & Johnson Vision in Jacksonville, Fla. She had the opportunity to work in the supply chain area, to engage with members of the diversity team, and to work on some interesting finance projects. She also was able to get school credit for the internship, which was considered a co-op program by her school and will enable her to graduate with her bachelor’s degree this December.

Vanessa is already pretty ambitious: Along with her sister, she operates her own company, an event decoration business. But her dream is to get selected for J&J’s prestigious FLDP (Finance Leadership Development Program), a 2.5-year program where new finance employees rotate through different functions and divisions of the company. She hopes that having served in an internship at the company will give her a leg up.

“It was great to attend the IMA conference,” she recalls. “I especially enjoyed hearing from the VP of finance at Comcast, who spoke about how to stand out in a big crowd, and the session by the former Pittsburgh Steeler player Charlie Batch, who talked about giving back to your community.” Vanessa was born in the Ivory Coast, moving to the U.S. as a child, and she is eager to see how she can give back to her country of birth. With the internship she just completed and her own aspirations, Vanessa is poised for a promising future.