15 December 2020 | Produced by Kandy Shaw
We are each of us the authors of our own destiny, but we need to know what we want and how to go about getting it. In terms of planning a project management career there is a method to follow. It is a set recipe for success that is easily compared to the making of a Christmas pudding!
Who am I cooking for?
Where do I start?
Know yourself: What are your strengths and weaknesses? What is it that you hope to achieve from your chosen career? Is it job satisfaction? A nice salary? A generous holiday allowance might put the proverbial icing on the cake. Added benefits such as company car, health/life cover, free gym membership … all just put the cherry on top. So, all things considered a career in project management can tick a lot of boxes, but where do you start?
Start with the job boards to see what opportunities there are for a project managing career? See what qualifications/certifications project management positions are asking for. Which industry might you prefer to work in? Would you enjoy an Agile or Waterfall environment, or both? What skills do you have and how could you enhance them? Once these questions are answered then you can start to enhance your existing skills and develop new ones.
What ingredients do I need?
What training is available?
Microsoft Project is always to be highly recommended as a starting point. Then do you fancy a sprinkling of Scrum or a pinch of PRINCE2 perhaps? The more qualifications you achieve the greater the choice of career vacancies. Scrum positions may number some 600 whilst PRINCE2 may offer some 800 positions. To combine both certifications would be to increase your choice to over 1400 positions! (See my post on Agile v Waterfall project management methodology: What are the differences and how can they be applied to the I’m a Celebrity 2020 show?)
Shopping for ingredients
Online, Virtual or Classroom?
Choosing how you train is like a shopping trip. You need to look at courses and prices but also methods of training. Which might suit you best?
Online training means that you can study from wherever you choose providing you have pc access and internet connection. You will have an image of the trainer delivering step-by-step instructions, but you will not be able to interact with them. You will work through a series of modules at your own pace and at any time/s that are suitable for you. This form of training allows you to study around other commitments.
Virtual training would also allow you to train from anywhere. The difference between this method and online training is that you would have to log in at pre-arranged times on pre-arranged dates. This allows you to interact with your trainer who would log on with you. It is almost as if the trainer is in the room with you (but a little smaller!) There are, however, stricter time constraints on this method of training as it is literally a virtual classroom, so any required exams would be taken at the end of the course.
Finally, there is the good old form of classroom-based training that needs no explanation.
Stand out from the crowd
Will you choose an Agile or Waterfall environment? Would you like to mix them up? The more fingers you have in the pudding the more opportunities you create for yourself. (Remember how Santa put himself on various courses last year and it paid dividends? See: Santa The Scrum Master: How Santa used Scrum to organise his Christmas Deliveries). You need to stand out as head chef when CVs are on the boss’s table. So, if you can, mix your skills. To do so is to be a good all-rounder and a sought-after candidate.
Career Progression takes time
It will take several years before you reach the higher managerial status in project management. You need to gain experience in your chosen environment or industry and you have to acquire qualifications/certifications as you grow. Most junior/middle management positions ask for a minimum of 5 years’ experience, but don’t be put off by this as it gives you that amount of time to soak up your training and add the experience that you need.
When you move up the tinsel to the higher management positions and better salary brackets, vacancies often require a minimum of 10 years’ experience as well as multiple qualifications/certifications such as AgilePM, PRINCE2 Agile and quite frequently Managing Successful Programmes (MSP).
Proof of the pudding
Once you know who you are and what you want and you have gathered the necessary ingredients to progress in your chosen career, then go back to your job boards. You will see many more opportunities than when you originally started your research. In itself this will inspire confidence. The next step is to decide which one to apply for and apply. It might even be advisable to apply for several positions.
Recipe for Success
Do your research. Allow your training to soak in while you gain experience and confidence, then savour the moment when that first dream job is offered and enjoy the flavour of your success.
From all of us at NILC … Enjoy your pudding!