Getting Started in project Management I receive many questions from people who are interested in project management as a career. This is pmStudent. One of the most frequently asked questions is “How do I get started?” Today I received an email with this question from a reader. I wanted to share my thoughts with everyone. Let me begin by saying that there are many ways that successful project managers have gotten their start. There are many PMs who started by getting a business degree online. Others have higher degrees. I can share my personal experiences with you and offer some tips. All of this is just my opinion (just like everything else I write! It is important to be skeptical. Experience first, education second If you are faced with the decision of whether to pursue formal project management education or practical experience in the field, choose the experience. This is not an option. You can choose to do both, but you should always highlight your opportunities for real-world experience. My personal opinion is that it is best to be in a small enough project that you are able to experiment with new concepts as they arise. This type of flexibility is possible through volunteer efforts.
Volunteer at school, work, and non-profit organisations you may not be a member of yet
Apply the concepts you have learned.
Ask project managers questions to find a mentor in project management. As a way of tapping into their experience and building professional relationships, take them out for coffee or lunch.
If you are part of a project team, pay attention to what the manager does. You can offer to help them in any way you can, even if it is tedious. Ask lots of questions.
However, education is very important for project career coaching
You can read books and blogs (see the links in the lower-right corner).
Listen to podcasts (PM Podcast and PM411, Controlling chaos-archives only), PM Prepcast
You might find Episode 62, “How can you become a Project Manager”, and Episode 65, “BS and MBA Project Management” to be helpful podcasts. Episode 65 features me. I have decided not to pursue a MBA in project management since that interview was recorded. I have my BS in Project Management. Now, I want to gain experience and get my PMP. At this stage in my career, an advanced degree didn’t work out in cost-benefit analyses.
Know your tools: There are many computer resources that can be used to help project managers. Workforce management software is one such tool. It allows you to keep track of every detail and keeps you on top of everything during any project. You can research the industry online to find out what’s currently being used.
Join PMI. My experience so far has been with the PMI. Join your local chapter and any SIGs that interest you. I recommend the ISSIG, as they host a monthly webinar on topics that are applicable to all project managers.
Even if you aren’t ready to take the exam, PMP Prep material is very useful. PM PrepCast is the best. I felt that I learned a lot, even if I didn’t consider the PMP aspect.
Ask your boss if they can help you get into project management by offering project management training and special assignments. It’s never a bad idea to ask!