Industry Internship Spotlight: Elizabeth Hau @ Johnson & Johnson

What was your internship project/scope?

My internship project was in J&J’s Ethicon organization, helping with end-to-end supply chain visibility through working on a specific product. More specifically, Ethicon collects data on every phase of their supply chain, but none of it is connected or used yet. The goal of the project is to connect the different data sources through building a digital thread, better understand the current state of the systems, and use insights gained from the digital thread to help inform decision making. To have something tangible for the internship, I focused on implementing a proof-of-concept digital thread for one of the products, but the long-term goals is to have digital threads and digital twins (digital version of the physical processes) for all of Ethicon’s products.

How was the transition between school and returning to a full time work schedule and back again?

The initial transition from working to school was challenging. The academic work is intense and we all get thrown right into a lot of work from the get-go, but thanks to the extremely supportive and helpful LGO community, help is always there when I needed it. It was exciting coming back to school and learning more about operations, business, dive deeper into engineering classes, reflect on past experiences, learn from my classmates, and continue to work on leadership skills. Transitioning from school back to the full-time work schedule was rather smooth. I appreciated having most of my weekends back, but occasionally missed the feeling of drinking from a firehose. Getting to go on DPT (Domestic Plant Trek) in the middle of internship and finally meeting everyone in the class in person was amazing! Since coming back from internship, I have enjoyed attending all my classes in person (including attending my first engineering class at MIT in person!) and spending more time hanging out with friends while balancing the hecticness of writing the thesis, getting it reviewed, and managing the approval process.

LGO ’22 Core Team Seven, the Heptades.

What coursework informed your internship the most?

Intro to ops, stats and data science, interactive data visualizations were the classes I found very useful for me on the internship. Intro to ops helped me understand terms used by my partners and those on the manufacturing floor better. Stats and data science gave me the skills to execute the data science side of the project. Interactive data visualizations taught me ways to design effective visualizations, which were seminal in communicating with stakeholders with a wide range of technical understanding.

What were the difficulties or challenges you experienced before/during/after your internship?

J&J is a very heavily relationship-based company. One of the challenges I encountered during my internship was building connections with people remotely. My experience meeting with everyone at J&J was great even though we could not meet in person. Everyone was generous with their time and met with me through 1:1s. However, connecting with external partners (suppliers) who had data I needed was a challenge.

Visiting Chicago while on DPT
Visiting Chicago while on DPT

Not having a pre-existing relationship with them before made it hard for my messages to be noticed. The fact that I have not met any of them before seemed to further disincentivize their sense of need to meet with me, especially given the nature of my project being about data and suppliers being more protective of their data. Eventually, I enlisted help from my teammates who have worked with the suppliers before and cherished the time I had to meet with the suppliers to demonstrate the incremental benefits the project can bring and was able to get one of them onboard with sharing their data.

What has been your experience with LGO alumni and the industry partner companies during this process?

My supervisor Kris Schmidt and project partners Chad Lape and Gaby Lamas were extremely supportive during my internship. I have had a wonderful time learning from them and working with them. Kris’ help and organization skills ensured the interactions between the program and the company was as seamless as possible. I really enjoyed working with my partners!

The alumni presence at J&J is very strong. Prior to my internship starting, I received a warm welcome from LGO alums at J&J as soon as the internship matches were announced. During my internship, 1:1s with Christy Dorris ’06, Amy Gobel ’17, Suzie Rawden ’21, Manny Gillio ’02, and Caleb Dailey ’98 were all extremely helpful when it came to navigating J&J. Christy, Amy, and Suzie’s mentorship and guidance throughout my internship and full-time job search were very important reasons I decided to join J&J after graduation.

LGO ’22 Class Photo in Miami

What do you think was the most valuable part of the internship for you?

I got to explore a completely different industry and get to work with people from a variety of functions during my six months at J&J! When it comes to the opportunity to explore a new industry, I really appreciated the fact that the internship was six-months instead of three because I got more time to learn and sufficient time to apply what I have learned to a more substantial project (I felt like I was still spending most of my time learning at the three-month mark and really started making contributions after that). I got to see how a different company operated and spend time with amazing mentors at J&J who cared about the people they work with, an experience I am tremendously thankful for!