It isn’t easy to walk straight into a project manager job so maybe you would like to think about a different way of getting there. My introduction to the project world was as a business analyst and I can recommend this approach as a long term career strategy.
So what could you gain by starting at a lower level and working your way up to become a project manager? Here are some of the main benefits to taking this approach to your project career.
Learn the Job
Most business analysts know what the project manager role is all about. This doesn’t mean that they could do it well but they understand it. In fact, if you are lucky you might even get given control of a sub project or a small piece of work. It is a great feeling to learn the job while you work and build up your career piece by piece. This also means that you are less likely to make big mistakes when you become a project manager, unlike someone who is plunged right into it. As you work away in the business analyst role you will come across different situations and types of project, so once you finally become a project manager you will already have a lot of useful experience. No one wants to get embarrassed in a new job by not knowing the basics but this won’t happen to you if you get a good grounding before you reach the level of project leader.
Make Good Contacts
If you want to make a career in the project world then you will want to get started on making good contacts as early as you can. One of the great things about starting out as a business analyst is that you can get in touch with a lot of business users whom the project manager might not have any dealings with. This means that you can star to build up a list of contacts made up of people who are likely to progress in your careers at the same sort of rate as you. What this will eventually mean is that you end up working in a project management role and dealing with stakeholders who have come through the ranks at the same time as you have. This can give you a great feel for how they like to work and make it far easier for you to get through projects together.
Find Out If You Enjoy It
Of course, there is also the possibility that you discover that you don’t enjoy project work as much as you hoped you would. It is better to find this out sooner rather than later and joining a project team as a business analyst rather than as a project manager could be a good idea. I say this principally because you might spend a long time trying to get a project manager role, while it could be easier to get a position as a business analyst. This means that you can find out a lot sooner whether this is the career path you want to take or not. If you love this line of work then you won’t mind working your way up to the role.
Avoid Too Much Pressure Too Soon
When you first start out in a project manager job you might get landed with a high pressure project early on. After all, you will be getting paid a good salary to do this kind of thing and your bosses will expect you to be able to hit the ground running and start delivering. If you thrive on high pressure situations this could be ideal for you but what if you prefer to get started in a rather more gentle fashion? In this case, you could be better advised to join as a business analyst and get used to the way you need to work in projects while someone else has to take the majority of the heat. This isn’t something you look on as bring some sort of cop out. It is just the case that it might make more sense for you to do things this way and make your life a bit less stressful than it might otherwise be. By the time you get promoted to the role you really want you should be a lot more comfortable with the way projects run and be able to take the extra pressure in your stride.