Johnson & Johnson Re-Ignite Program

By Gloria Romano-Barrera

“The Re-Ignite program is part of Johnson & Johnson’s larger commitment to diversity and inclusion, and is a fantastic way for people with unique abilities, perspectives and experiences to feel supported as they re-enter the workforce,” states Jacqueline Maestri, Vice President, WW Engineering and Property Services at Johnson & Johnson.

Launched in 2017, Johnson & Johnson’s Re-Ignite program is a 4-month returnship program designed to help individuals with STEM and technical backgrounds – who have taken a career break of two or more years – have a smooth transition back into the workforce. Committed to helping individuals and families live well across their whole lives, and that often looks very different for people, J&J recognizes that many people don’t always have a linear career path, and often take a career break, for a variety of reasons; including to raise children or care for loved ones.

“The Hispanic population makes up a big percentage of the global workforce and brings key skillsets and diverse talent to the STEM roles we are looking to fill,” states Liz Markus, Director, Re-Ignite Program at Johnson & Johnson. “Our aim is to offer supportive programs to returning STEM2D professionals who forged their own path.”

Aimed to help make the transition back to the professional world less overwhelming and to help individuals feel empowered on their journey back into professional life, the Re-Ignite program offers comprehensive onboarding and skills training, in addition to mentorship, learning opportunities and flexibility, it’s a program that addresses many of the concerns individuals face when deciding to return to work.

“At J&J, we understand the challenges that working families face, and how daunting it can feel to return to work after a career break,” states Markus. “People who have taken time to step away from their career to take on new challenges bring an incredible diversity of thought and unique perspective to the workplace, no matter what their background is. Not only does this new thinking spark innovation that can be applied to the work that we do at J&J, but it also fosters the inclusivity that is so crucial to our culture. Finding ways to support our current Hispanic employees and to create new relationships within the communities we serve is something we are always striving for.”

According to Marcus, J&J’s Re-Ignite return to work program is unique in that it’s designed specifically for those in science, technology, engineering, math, manufacturing, and design (STEM2D) roles, and offers more than just a foot in the door at the company.

Participants in the program are supported at every step of the way, starting with comprehensive onboarding and industry-specific skills training in project areas that match with individuals’ professional passions. Returners are matched with J&J mentors and program alumni who can help answer questions and provide useful guidance about the transition back to work. Additionally, all returners are considered for full-time roles at J&J after completion of the Re-Ignite program.

“Whether a participant converts to a job with J&J or not, it’s crucial to us that each person has a high-touch and inspiring experience,” states Markus. “Though, we’re proud to report we currently have a 100 percent job conversion rate for all of our returners.”

Today the program has launched in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ireland, in addition to the United States. J&J looks forward to evolving and expanding the program to help bring more STEM2D returners back to the workforce, empowering and supporting a new generation of leaders.

“We’re always looking for new ways to bring diverse talent to J&J and continually aim to recruit in ways that support individuals and their families. As the modern workforce continues to evolve, we’re leaning into the future of work, and understand that career breaks are both expected and valued,” states Markus. “We know that having more amazing employees—women or men—who bring rich experience, in-demand technical skills, and unique learning to the table will help us grow further and faster as a company and a society, and it’s important for us to support people at all stages of their career.”