Whether you’re just out of college or you’re experienced in another area, for example engineering or buying, how can you move across into project management?
– (assuming you WANT to! see pros and cons here.…)
First, I would say that experience is more important than qualifications. Yes, both would be ideal, but I believe that most recruiters will look for some experience, which is a problem if you’re just starting out.
1 – Volunteer to help on as many projects as you can
2 – When helping, offer to do some / most / all of the planning, for experience
3 – Then get to run some small projects – anything that’s even just a borderline project because it’s really small and simple
3a – if there’s really nothing at work, maybe try out the project planning methods on something outside work – at home or in your free time, whether it’s a kitchen extension or an amateur theatre production. You’ll get some practice and build up your confidence that you can do it.
4 – Move on up from there – from helping with larger projects to running them, and from running small then medium then larger and projects.
5 – Find a Project Management mentor in your company who you can go to for advice
6 – When interviewed bring Gantt charts and maybe also network diagrams and figures on performance to planned date at budget, to the interview. There’s nothing as powerful as seeing real evidence. Even if a project is small, it shows that the person understands the process.
7 – When applying for an interview, remember you can ring up and ask questions. My top two would be “You’re asking for PRINCE2 (yuk!) in the job spec, and I don’t have that, but I have PMP which is similar, possibly better, and I can show evidence of real projects that I’ve run – should I still apply?” (I love this because the person advertising for a PM probably doesn’t understand PM, in fact they obviously don’t or they wouldn’t be asking for old-fashioned out-of-date was-never-any-good soon-to-be-obsolete PRINCE – so they are bound to say yes to an alternative that they also don’t understand – the much better PMP. The other version of this is “I don’t have a formal qualification in PM but I have run a number of successful projects similar to yours, and I can bring evidence of these to the interview – should I still apply?”
8 – If you DO get a chance to get PMP then DO, it’s brilliant. Yes the exam is boring and nerdy, and involves a fair bit of learning by rote rather than real understanding, but it’s based on a great process and it’s by far the best game in town. Anyone who knows about PM will rate PMP as the best qualification. It comes from the PMI, here. I don’t think any other qualification comes close to this one. It’s the one everyone has heard of. PMP or nothing.
Hoping this helps – onwards and upwards!
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