Project Management

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Topics: Career Development, New Practitioners
Getting into Project Management
Hello PMI,

For the past few weeks I have been searching for an entry level project coordinator or project manager position. I have seen a few positions but they all want experience or a PMP, which I have neither. I will have my Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies/Project Management in 3 months, but I am looking to get my first career in the field now.

I have been browsing different jobs sites and have applied for some positions. What was your career progression and how did you get started in the field? Would you have any advice for someone in a position like mine?

Thank you for any insight. I'm starting to get more involved with my local chapter and am hoping to start networking that way.
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David -

Most of the time, folks are working in a team member capacity for some years, gaining deep domain experience, before they are ready to move into a PM role within that same domain.

A common stepping stone is to look at a Project Analyst or Coordinator-type role where you'd be supporting a seasoned PM.

Kiron
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1 reply by David Gascon
Apr 21, 2021 7:17 PM
David Gascon
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Thanks Kiron. That is the career path that I am likely looking at pursuing. It feels like a lot of the project coordinator positions are looking for experience as a project coordinator, which is where I am currently struggling. Any tips on landing my first project coordinator positions?
Apr 21, 2021 7:06 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
David -

Most of the time, folks are working in a team member capacity for some years, gaining deep domain experience, before they are ready to move into a PM role within that same domain.

A common stepping stone is to look at a Project Analyst or Coordinator-type role where you'd be supporting a seasoned PM.

Kiron
Thanks Kiron. That is the career path that I am likely looking at pursuing. It feels like a lot of the project coordinator positions are looking for experience as a project coordinator, which is where I am currently struggling. Any tips on landing my first project coordinator positions?
David

Besides the solid advice from Kiron, I always advice my client and new graduate candidates to also look for a Project Associate Role. In a way, it is like a Project Coordinator.

Hope this helps.

RMK
I do not know if it helps, but maybe try find PM Assistant roles. These roles support the Project Manager in doing all the PM tasks ,usually the most simple and repetitive ones, but it does let you learn how things are done.

I have started as a PMO assistant (first as an intern and then as an employee) myself before moving to Project Manager roles.

Another way to gain experience would be to do volonteer work (your local organisations are always in need of someone managing different projects). Not only you would help someone but you also get the experience that is required for most jobs.

An, last advice: even if a job description is asking for experience or certification, apply anyway. Sometimes recruiters will look at profiles not matching 100% of the job description because, to be honest, there is never the ideal candidate... It does not cost you anything, you raise the chances to have a call and moreover you will be in their database for any potential opportunity later on.
David,

before I took on my first project manager position in 1987, I worked 13 years as SW developer and systems engineer. It helped honing my self-confidence and standing in front of a client, my team and contractors and represent the project.

So, what did you do so far in your professional life? May be a good start into project management would be to extend on this experience.

I soon, with my second project, entered unchartered waters (for me) and that is when the fun of being a project manager started: being able to create a future for others, even if you do not know more than them.

I second Adela in suggesting volunteer work: it grows your network (and most jobs are found thru your connections), provides a sandbox for developing your leadership skills and helps you set priorities.

And lastly: get a mentor.

Good luck, Thomas
I've heard it said: First become a specialist, then become a generalist.

I started out as an engineer, first designing hardware, then providing technical oversight for our technical team designing hardware.

Within a couple years I was given the opportunity to be the systems engineer/technical integrator on a large change package working side-by side with the PM. That required me to be the back-up for the PM, giving me the experience with the cost and schedule side, and visibility with the leadership team which is always helpful.

When I moved into a developmental program as an engineer during the early stages, as the program expanded I became the team lead, which included all the team planning so PM was a natural fit. "Technical PMs" go by any number of job titles, but when interfacing with external customers, the term "Project Engineer" is usually well understood.
Good notes form the previous participants in the conversation, another option is to look in your local chapter, they usually work and net work with seasoned project/program manager and can help you to find a project coordinator/assistant position (or internship)
I think why don't you start getting your CAPM instead of a PMP first, look for project coordinator, or junior project manager jobs to start and then work your way into those PMP roles. Good luck.
Project Assistant, Project Coordinator, or PMO Assistant are good roles to start in a Project Management Career. Apply to these Project Management roles in your city, and in the meantime, participate in Project Management communities, forums, or your local PMI Chapter.
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