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Gaining experience in Project Management as a student
I am an aspiring project manager but as a full-time student I am struggling to gain any experience in the field, how can I gain this experience?
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Adam -

Any significant change you lead could be considered a project management engagement. Having said that, if you are specifically looking to gain experience in order to enter the PM field, I'd recommend first focusing on gaining hands-on skills in a business domain which interests you and once you have gained sufficient experience in that, look to switch into a PM role.

You could also look at volunteering to lead initiatives either with a local PMI chapter or with another not-for-profit association which you wish to support.

Kiron
Hi Kiron,

Thank you for response.

I will definitely explore that option, I am looking to gain PM experience and whilst the route you suggest is not as conventional, it is definitely worth looking into.

Adam
Adam

Kiron’s advise is very solid and I couldn’t agree more. You can look for Project Coordinator roles which will help get you exposed to the various aspects of project management in a project.

RK
Thanks your response Rami, I will look into that.


Adam
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1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Feb 08, 2021 8:51 AM
Rami Kaibni
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You’re welcome Adam, Good Luck !
Feb 08, 2021 8:50 AM
Replying to Adam Barclay
...
Thanks your response Rami, I will look into that.


Adam
You’re welcome Adam, Good Luck !
Hi Adam,
very ambitious, I commend you for that.

Kiron's and Rami's advice is rock solid. I worked 14 years as a practioner before leading my first project. But in these years I had the chance to learn tidbits in two areas:
- tools and techniques of project management, like estimation, running meetings, scheduling, communicating, doing presentations etc.
- becoming a better person, which means working on my emotional intelligence, gaining self confidence, empathy, listening, negotiation etc.

After I moved to the PM profession, I build on these 2 areas and was surprised when I saw all this come together in PMI's PMBoK guide.

PMI now offers an entry level certification for students, you might consider this a step to learn and show your ambition. https://www.pmi.org/certifications/pmi-project-management-ready

PMI also says that PM is a skill for life (not only your profession), once you learned some techniques, you can easily try them out and understand in practice how they work. In your life projects, e.g. a birthday party, a proposal of your startup, a vacation, buying a car, as a volunteer, helping others.

Last advice: get a mentor.

Thomas
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1 reply by Adam Barclay
Feb 08, 2021 6:38 PM
Adam Barclay
...
Thank you for your response Thomas, I am looking to get certification when I can, it's difficult balancing university work a part time job and a company, but this is something that I do see as definitely worthwhile so thank you for mentioning it.
You already got the best comments, however something that you will also like to try is to check in your network or family network if you have a project manager that you can shadow. That will give you an idea if is something that you would like to do in a future.
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1 reply by Adam Barclay
Feb 08, 2021 6:41 PM
Adam Barclay
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I'm grateful for your reply Mayte.
I am looking to expand my network and hopefully gain some experience as well. Whilst my family hasn't quite opted for the project management route, I will hopefully be able to find someone who does.

Project management is definitely a field I want to venture into, it is as you said about finding someone who can act as a mentor.
Feb 08, 2021 1:58 PM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
...
Hi Adam,
very ambitious, I commend you for that.

Kiron's and Rami's advice is rock solid. I worked 14 years as a practioner before leading my first project. But in these years I had the chance to learn tidbits in two areas:
- tools and techniques of project management, like estimation, running meetings, scheduling, communicating, doing presentations etc.
- becoming a better person, which means working on my emotional intelligence, gaining self confidence, empathy, listening, negotiation etc.

After I moved to the PM profession, I build on these 2 areas and was surprised when I saw all this come together in PMI's PMBoK guide.

PMI now offers an entry level certification for students, you might consider this a step to learn and show your ambition. https://www.pmi.org/certifications/pmi-project-management-ready

PMI also says that PM is a skill for life (not only your profession), once you learned some techniques, you can easily try them out and understand in practice how they work. In your life projects, e.g. a birthday party, a proposal of your startup, a vacation, buying a car, as a volunteer, helping others.

Last advice: get a mentor.

Thomas
Thank you for your response Thomas, I am looking to get certification when I can, it's difficult balancing university work a part time job and a company, but this is something that I do see as definitely worthwhile so thank you for mentioning it.
Feb 08, 2021 4:44 PM
Replying to Mayte Mata-Sivera
...
You already got the best comments, however something that you will also like to try is to check in your network or family network if you have a project manager that you can shadow. That will give you an idea if is something that you would like to do in a future.
I'm grateful for your reply Mayte.
I am looking to expand my network and hopefully gain some experience as well. Whilst my family hasn't quite opted for the project management route, I will hopefully be able to find someone who does.

Project management is definitely a field I want to venture into, it is as you said about finding someone who can act as a mentor.
As for volunteer opportunities, don't just limit yourself to ones where you start in a PM oriented role. Frequently, volunteers are led by people who mean well, but aren't necessarily the most organized, efficient or PM savvy. Problems inevitably will occur. Most people will stare at the problems. A few will step up and be leaders.

I worked my way through university and did many odd jobs to pay the bills, as well as doing a lot of volunteer work once I started a professional career. Doing the work, learning what's the most difficult or annoying, and suggesting ways to make it better is the #1 thing that got me hired on full time, or promoted.

Opportunities don't always come from getting hired on for a new and more responsible position. Sometimes they come from being there when a problem occurs and stepping up to the task. Get noticed as being one of the few that rises to the occasion, and you will get more responsibility.

This requires tact. You don't want to come across as a know-it-all. You want to point out why you can make the annoying parts of their work easier. Now you're their ally, not the newbie trying to make them look bad.
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