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Topics: Career Development
certification prep - university vs. self-driven?
I have many years of mainframe experience. My company is transitioning to the cloud over the next 2-3 years. I'm looking to combine my years of experience as a manager with something else to reinvent myself. I'm considering project management. Would it make a difference if my training prep was self-driven and online versus going through a university's program? Or is it just the certification that matters? I'm 60 and no where near ready to retire. I'm wondering if companies will look at me as too old and not even consider me so am I wasting my time? Am I crazy to even consider this?
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I´m 58. If you ask me, I think you will find more opportunities using your experience in mainframe than being a project manager. Why? Because if you take a look to new technologies there is a recoil, a return to mainframe and scripting languages. For example cloud. If you take a closer look is close to mainframe architecture in the basement. On the other side, if you was manager in software/infraestructure field the only thing that will add to you to earn a certification is the possibility to get a new job just in case in the market where you are trying to do that certification is "a must".


Old is Gold but you're not old. What matters is not the certification but the experience and knowledge. If you have a certificate without the knowledge and experience it won't get you far.

In your case, since your are just planning to transition to project management, I suggest you take an In-Class Course related to project management. This is my personal opinion.


Donna -

I'd agree with Rami that unless you have sufficient relatively recent PM experience that should be your focus vs. trying to attain a credential. So, go with the foundational PM course and then start earning experience.


It is admirable that you are still looking for career change! I am new in project management profession and believe certification only may not mobilise your endeavour. I would say if your past experience is in project management, then certification may help you to advance in your career.

I think you may already have project experience and not even know it. I can't imagine someone at 60 with years of experience in mainframes wasn't always involved in a project of some kind. Think about it more closely. Jump into the PMP training and you might find that you pick up a lot of stuff other people struggle with.

I recently went through a similar thought process myself, and have discussed it with my neighbor who's retiring into the private sector from 30 years in the US Coast Guard managing procurement.

I think the credentials will do 2 things:
1) They show that you know how things are done outside the organization where you currently work. i.e. you don't just know their way of doing it.
2) They show that you are still pursuing continuous learning. In other words, you are trainable to leading things done your potential employers way.

PM courses were part of my MS curriculum and I did actually learn from them, but in a unique way. We had to work in teams, and when you put someone with 20+ years of PM experience in with 2 others in their 20s, I wound up being the team mentor for the semester.

For my teammates it was about learning the basic PM concepts; for me it was about explaining them to others in a way that was understandable and relatable to the real world and their current jobs.

Donna -- I am a few years senior to you and relate to what you are saying about pursuing another career.

First, set-aside the PM profession for a moment. The fact you are looking to reinvent yourself should make you more relevant. Age can work against you if you remain stagnant. You are not doing this. So free yourself of any concern about those pesky birthday reminders!

Second, the venue for training prep is a personal choice. Whether it be self-driven or formal (as in a university program), you're going to end-up with the same result: A PMP Certification.

Self-driven has the advantage of giving you flexibility in allotting your study time. While a university program doesn't work that way, it is much more conducive to a network environment and has a social element to it that can be enriching years after the you have finished.

Deep industry knowledge + management experience + the PMP are a powerful combination that will not easily be dismissed -- even if you don't have the PM experience per se.

I wish you luck! Just know that others have been successful in exactly what you are pondering right now.

Whatever decision you make, you have this community to assist you along the way :-)

Dear Donna
Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing

I am convinced that throughout his professional career you has worked on projects

How old are you thinking (if that is on your mind) retiring?

After retirement are you thinking about working? (For example, as a volunteer or consulting or mentor)

Studying the PMBOK Guide and taking the PMP certification test (beyond the knowledge you can gain) can be interesting as a challenge and reflect on future projects with a different approach.

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