How to get into project management? This tricky question I receive a lot from people who wanna start a career in Project Management in tech and have no relevant experience behind.
And you know what, I was in this shoes someday too.
So, how to crack this code and to get the first job as an IT project manager with no project management or coding background?
Hi, I’m Kris and you are in my Project Management Sandbox. I am a PMP certified project manager who has wildly switched a career from the non-tech industry to STEM with no coding skills under the belt.
Today I and going to share some backstage of my professional journey and the paths you can take when starting a career as a Project Manager. In other words, let’s talk How to get into Project Management with no project management experience, with no degree in Project Management and without knowing how to code. If you are interested in learning this, then keep on watching.
To begin with, I see 3 common ways you can pick from when choosing to start a career as a Project Manager.
1. Make a transition within your organisation.
2. Enter a small company where people where many hats at once.
3. Join a large corporate company with a PMO and a lot of roles.
Definitely there are pros and cons for each of these ways, thus let’s get deeper into each of them.
1. Make a transition within your organisation
If you are already in tech, if you are satisfied with the company you work in and this company offers an opportunity to change the role within the organisation and to start your Project Management journey, this is the easiest option you can try.
- You already know everything about the company: you know the company culture, values, goals. You are familiar with the internal processes. That would make things much easier when you decide to make a transition.
- You know the colleagues and the org structure. based on the knowledge about the company in general, you already know who to address your query about the transition and discuss the requirements in person. You have a chance to learn the project team in advance.
- Being in the company, you know about the roles and opportunities sooner which gives you an advantage.
- Not only this, depending on your current role for the company itself it could be easier and more affordable to make an internal transition rather than on-boarding a new resource.
- When you are making a transition to an absolutely new role that is not related to your background , that could be a little painful from the career perspective. What I am talking about is that having few experience in comparison with your current role , especially if you are already a seasoned professional, might force a downgrade in your career.
This is pretty obvious. For example, being an experienced developer or quality assurance specialist you have earned a robust background in your field. If you make a transition to a new role, in our case, to a project manager, you will need to learn something new, right. So, during the time you are earning new experience you would most likely be taking more junior roles. On the other hand, if you are already in the boat, you could get up to speed sooner.
OR, if you are not a seasoned professional in your current role, you will not lose much with this transition.
2. Enter a small company where people where many hats
If we consider the ways to take over a Project Management role in another company this is one of the options you may consider.
When I talk about small companies, this might be organisations with up to 50 people and with few people in the same role. For example, a person can share a Product Manager’s and Project Manager’s role and would need help. Or it could be a shared role between the Business Analyst and a Project Manager, OR potentially between a Team Lead and a Project Manager. You see what I am talking about.
Again, it has its own pros and cons.
- Less entry requirements, which means they may need help urgently OR they expect a person should also be able to wear many hats and take over different role. This assumes he / she should not have a really deep experience in the role that is being taken.
- Less bureaucracy and more flexibility. You would be able to try different approaches and to train on the flight.
- Streamlined processes. As the company is not big, you would be able to collaborate across the whole organization and by talking to people you need you will get results faster. More options to grow your experience in adjacent areas and level up your communication skills.
- Wearing many hats could be overwhelming and may not suit everybody’s expectations.
- As the company is small, chances are there will be no other project managers and you will need to learn everything by yourself and on the go.
- Due to the size of the company there will be fewer options for the career growth moving forward.
My PRO journey to Project Management
Getting to my story, joining the small company is what I have chosen for myself when I decided to start a career as a Project Manager.
To be honest, my professional journey was quite curly and it took me a while to get to tech and to start in project management. Some of you may know, I have 2 quite polar degrees. One in Hospitality another in Finance. I tried myself in both fields and that appeared to be not my dream jobs.
On the other hand I always wanted to work in tech. However, I was caught on the popular belief that you need to have a Computer Science degree and you need to know how to code before you can get in.
So that we are on the same page, YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOW HOW TO CODE to start a career in tech. Specifically, YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOW HOW TO CODE to become a Project Manager.
That was hard to acknowledge, but I wanted to work in tech and I started to look for the opportunities. I was considering all the opportunities in the market, starting from the Project Management Assistant to the actual Project Management role. Keeping in mind the multi-hat concept, finally I landed the offer in a very small company but as a Project Manager. That is when the real fun started.
That could be an alternative option for you as well. Yes, there are some specific challenges in small companies, they can be messy and the processes may not be quite set. However, if you would believe in your career with them, they can believe in you and in your capabilities too.
If you would want to leant more about my professional journey, give this video a like and let me know about it in comments!
3. Join a large company with a PMO and a lot of roles
If the small company flexibility and few processes organisation is not for you, if you prefer structure and clearly defined roles and responsibilities, the alternative could be to look for the opportunities in bigger companies. These are the organisation that have clearly defined project management roles, that may have other lower entry roles and could even have a PMO within.
Again, there some pros and cons for this choice.
- They can offer different entry points which would help to build a career development strategy in this company.
- Next, clearly defined and transparent growth opportunities. If you are concerning about developing yourself within the organisation and need to see the step you can take in your career journey, this could be a nice option to choose.
- Big company means many people and people in the same roles. In other words, this is networking and an opportunity to learn from your colleagues. This is especially valuable when you are just starting off and may need guidance.
- In a big company you will have the defined processes and flow you need to follow without second thoughts. You will not need to invent the while, just to follow what they have in place for you.
- In a big company you will have the defined processes and flow you need to follow without second thoughts. In other words, few opportunities for flexibility and few options to apply creativity.
- As the roles and processes are clearly defined, it may be complicated to make a sep left or right when it comes to the career growth opportunities.
- The bigger the company is, the longer it takes to reach out to the people you need and to get things done. In other words, if you would need to get advice, you will get it. The question is when.
I hope the alternatives I have described gave you more transparency on how to get into the Project Management field. Let me know in comments if you would want to learn how to get the first Project Management experience. If the information in the video was useful. You can also check the following resources:
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