PSU-LV alum applies knowledge base to co-op position with Johnson and Johnson

a male student smiling next to the lion shrine

Kriday Sharma took full advantage of the campus experience at PSU-LV as a project management and supply chain major. He is now making his mark at University Park, juggling his classes with a co-op position at J&J in New Jersey.

Credit: Kriday Sharma

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Kriday Sharma was looking for a well-rounded experience when he began his college career at Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV). An extrovert by nature, Sharma was looking forward to making the most of everything campus had to offer, he said.

“I love talking to and working with people, and that led me to join a few groups,” Sharma said.

He was a member of the Debate Club, Business Society, and Student Government Association (SGA); later, he was elected vice president of the Business Society and president of SGA. Rounding out his campus activities, he was an ex-officio member of the Advisory Board by virtue of his standing as SGA president, and served on the Student Fee Board. Beyond PSU-LV, he sat on the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG) at University Park, serving as the financial manager in fall 2023. 

He said he was moved to get involved thanks to the welcoming, inclusive environment he found wherever he went on the PSU-LV campus.

“There’s a healthy environment at PSU-LV where the staff really encourages you to get involved. You have a huge support network,” Sharma said. “You see change — if you drive change, you’re much more likely to see it happen. It’s also just my philosophy — stay active, stay busy, and make positive changes wherever I can.”

He left a lasting impact as part of SGA. He signed six pieces of legislation during his tenure — a first for an SGA president. 

Sharma has the same “can do” attitude toward academics. He majored in supply chain and project management at PSU-LV and was part of the 2+2 program. Now in his third year at Penn State, he moved on to University Park’s supply chain and information systems program in the fall. An introductory course taught by Mark Capofari, lecturer, project and supply chain management, piqued Sharma’s initial interest in learning more about this thriving industry.

“The coursework and the way he taught it — how he ‘sold’ the supply chain by explaining the deeper side of how it all works, really interested me,” Sharma said.

His experience and interest in the field led to securing a co-op position with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) this semester. He is an end-to-end co-op for the North America segment for J&J Innovative Medicine in the J&J Group of Companies.

“I am assisting the entire end-to-end team with new product launches,” he said. “If there are any new drugs J&J works on, my team assists with it.”

This is one aspect of his role. He also assists the business excellence teams to try to find issues in the system and work on improving them along with optimizing the process. Kriday works full-time Monday through Friday, reporting to both J&J’s distribution center and main office in Somerset and Titusville, New Jersey, respectively. He continues to take online courses as he works at his co-op. Besides working toward his degree, he’s studying for his real estate certification through Smeal College of Business.

He brought a little bit of PSU-LV to his interview at J&J. On the last day of class, Maung Min, associate teaching professor and director of business programs, brought in a selection of his ties to give away to the students.

“We had to guess a number between 1 and 100 which had to be the same number Dr. Min had in mind,” Sharma said. The student who guessed the correct number won a tie. Sharma was one of the students who guessed the correct number. Min explained he’d had that particular tie for many years and said, “I hope you wear this tie to an interview and get an amazing job.” Sharma wore this good-luck charm to his J&J interview.

His biggest takeaways from PSU-LV weren’t just from the classroom, said Sharma.

“One thing I learned — your network is your net worth. I carry that with me. It’s an amazing piece of advice and has helped me in so many different spaces.  Just going up and talking to people will take you places,” he said.

He initially was unsure whether he wanted to take the co-op, but people in his network helped convince him it was the right thing to do.

“Internships and co-ops are so important, because they really give you a different perspective on the corporate world,” he said.

Sharma said he uses skills he honed at Penn State and built different skill sets on the job he wouldn’t gain in the classroom: “Companies look for experience. Internships and co-ops help you become better candidates to get hired. There’s a lot of learning.” 

Looking ahead, Sharma said after graduation from Penn State he ultimately hopes to secure a full-time entry-level position at J&J. Starting his own supply chain-related business is in his sights, as is running for public office in some capacity, though that is “much further down the road,” he said.

Much of the groundwork for his current success and future plans was laid at PSU-LV, said Sharma. 

“One thing I loved about it — it's small, but the small size makes it much more personable. You know people, the staff knows you," he said. "They’re all there to help you, and it shows.”