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Volunteering, working as a team member, project coordination, etc.
You need to apply for a job that exposes you to all aspects of project management. Project Coordinator is a good start!
Volunteering is another option, though sometimes employers take it lightly.
Without having past PM experience, it is difficult to jump from a non-PM role in one organization to a PM role in another. Also, most PMs start by managing projects focused on a domain in which they had been a hands-on contributor first rather than just directly getting into a PM or PC/PA role.
So, you'd likely want to start by taking on a role as a project team member in a company, then look to move into a junior PM or PC/PA role within that company.
This is part of why there are so many "accidental" project managers (like me). You're in one position, on a team. Then you start leading small, team level projects for the team. You're still hands-on, doing the work, but you're also coordinating the efforts of other members of your team. As you continue to deliver successfully, you start getting opportunities to manage small cross-functional projects, or your company has a PMO and you start cross-training with the project managers. Or both. At that point, I'd say the projects gradually get bigger, but it's not always gradual, and they're not always bigger.
It wasn't until I moved out of state and left the first company where I managed projects, for seven years, that I got a job with the title "Project Manager", but it was during that first seven years that I got my PMP.
The job market gets weirder as you gain experience. I've seen Sr PM jobs asking for 5 years experience. I've been passed over for jobs because my experience doesn't include having direct reports. So, you can't get a job as a PMO Manager if you don't have direct reports? If I had stayed at my last job, I might have been able to work my way into a PMO Manager role. If that's really what I want, I've shot myself in the foot starting a new job as a PM at a small company that doesn't have a PMO and likely never will.
My point is that the opportunities are there, sometimes where you don't expect them, but there is rarely a fast-track.
Often it is a progression of assignments over a few years.
You might start in a technical detail oriented role and then lead others in your area of expertise doing the hands-on work. From there you might lead your team's role participating in larger projects where you are one group out of many. With that new experience in how the bigger picture fits together, you then lead a project with a few teams including the one where you got your earlier experience and others you worked alongside previously.
That is how my career slowly expanded. Each new job included some things where I had experience, and other things where I had to learn on the job and integrate my new knowledge with my existing knowledge.
Starting on a Project Assistant or Project Coordinator position is a good option. Other option is to work as a volunteer, for example, in your Local Chapter.
Working on projects, any kind and in whatever capacity, is the way to project management. Get on any project then ask project leads to help. It will show that you are someone who wants to learn and someone who wants to get things done.
Oh... and never put yourself or someone else first: the project has to always be the most important thing.
Sunday, its fun. And promising.
Great advice in the answers above.
I would add:
- Get a mentor.
- Be aware you have been doing projects all time already. Just did not relate it to project management.
- Make sure you remember that project management is people business first (and yes, you need also methods, processes, tools)
- Stay humble and ethical
- project management = make it happen
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