Project management is an exciting type of work and it is no wonder that more and more people are attracted to it all of the time. For an exciting, ever changing role where you learn new skills on an ongoing basis then it is hard to beat.
So how do you get started? Existing project managers tend to all have different stories about how they got started. It seems clear from this that there is not just one way of getting involved in projects. We can, however, have a look at a few recommendations which are suitable for anyone considering this role.
Am I the Right Kind of Person?
You might like the sound of project management but that doesn’t mean that you should just go ahead without giving it a little bit of further thought. The type of person who I don’t think is suited to this sort of position is someone who likes to carry out the same sort of tasks in the same seat every day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that way of living but if you want constant change, a bit of travel and a chance to learn new skills then you could be well suited to project work. In my experience an awful lot of project workers are restless people who love to have a high degree of independence and flexibility in their jobs. If you are lucky enough to get temporarily involved in a project in your current job then this can be a fantastic way of getting a taste of it. If this is a possibility then you should look into it further and find out whether you can sample a project or two. In fact, a high percentage of current project managers came into the field by accident, so to speak. This shows us that a lot of companies look for their workers to move into project work at some point, and that a lot of them then stay there.
A lot of project work is about using your common sense and thinking creatively. However, there are also some skills, techniques and pieces of software which you need to be familiar with as well. You might work with a firm who is happy to send you on training courses but you should also look to get some training before you even look for a project job. There are lots of project management oriented training courses so your best bet is to go for something basic which gives you a professional qualification. Learning how to write and understand project documentation and understand the basic terminology is the very minimum you will need if you want to move into a project management job.
Find a Job
Assuming that you haven’t been able to move into a project with you current employer then it is now time to look for a new job. There are project management roles in many different types of company, and the all encompassing nature of the job title could leave you a bit overwhelmed with options. To make it easier and to give yourself a better chance of success then you could look only in industries which you are familiar with. I started off in banking and it therefore made sense to get my first project job in that same industry. Once you have completed this first project you will feel confident about taking your skills and experience into any type of company.
Start Off On the Right Foot
Once you have your feet under the table it is time to get down to some work. If you have experience in different types of jobs then your first few days could be a shock, especially if you are involved in a project which is just getting going. The early days of any project tend to be all about reading lots of documents, learning about processes or systems and trying to imagine how the whole thing is going to take shape. It could be that the project hasn’t even been very well defined yet and that you are left wondering what actually you will be asked to do. The best thing you can do in this situation is to take advantage of the time to learn as much as you can about your new environment, the tools you will be using and the project itself. Once the tasks needing done become clearer and the pace of the work picks up you will be glad that you took advantage of the time to become more comfortable in the role.