How To Become A Project Manager: Work On A Project!

Part 4 of 7 in the Series: How To Become A Project Manager

Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun

Making Things Happen

Scott Berkun, a former Microsoft Program Manager shares his views about becoming a project manager.

His views are startingly similar to the views we have been posting on this website … that getting more handson experience is the best way to jumpstart your career!

Notice Scott does not start with a long list of educational requirements or certifications for aspiring project managers but with something that you have heard me talk a lot about … hands-on experience!

Scott’s Advice for Aspiring Project Managers:

  • WORK ON A PROJECT.

  • Go make something …

  • Grab a friend and build a website, or a blog, or something. Anything …

  • Build a house. Build a couch. Make a movie …

  • Volunteer your Project Management (PM) skills wherever you can in return for a reference …

  • According to Scott; the best way to market yourself is to get experience, as there is nothing more dangerous for the world than someone who wants to be a project manager but has never managed a project in their life.

Scott is an independent author and public speaker for hire.

His work as a writer and public speaker has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Wired magazine, and on National Public Radio.

Scott has taught at the University of Washington, blogs for Harvard Business, and has appeared as an innovation expert on CNBC and MSNBC.

I recommend that you click here to read Scott Berkun’s answer to the question: “Should I Become A Project Manager?”

After reading Scott’s post, do this:

  • Advice for College Students: get some hands-on experience before you graduate. Don’t expect your educational qualifications alone to open doors.

  • Advice for Career Changers: Look for opportunities to build hands-on experience. Get your feet into the door at all costs. Click here to learn more about building hands-on experience

  • Advice for IT Professionals: Don’t get complacent by neglecting to buildup hands-on experience. Ask your manager or boss for opportunities to work on challenging, experience building projects. That is one good way to secure your job or your career!




4 Discussions for “How To Become A Project Manager: Work On A Project!”

  1. Sreenivas

    Hii can u help me with the difference between a project manager, an IT Project Manager and a project manager in Software development…

    my profile

    I have a btech- and I have 2 yes experience in software development…

    Then worked as a freelancer for 3yrs — outsourcing IT(software + BPO projects only)..

    Now i am learning sap business intelligence training ..

    I am looking for a role of business development manager… with a background of IT ,,. sir can u please help with the right career path…

    • Do you want to be a project manager, it project manager, software development project manager, sap business analyst and business development manager … all at once?

      I am just wondering why you are looking for a role as a business development manager while at the same time, you are looking into IT Project Management and Software Development Project Management … could it be that you are also considering these careers alongside a business development manager role?

      Here is the main difference between IT Project Managers and Software Development Project Managers. The IT Industry is a domain centric industry because while Information Technology (IT) itself is domain agnostic (it doesn’t care about your domains), the people who use technology (hiring managers, organizations or businesses) leave and work in specific industries or domains. Each of these domains (telecommunications, healthcare, finance, customer relationship markleting, sales & marketing,etc.) has its own culture, terms and processes which are sometimes not re-used or shared by employers in other domains.

      So, when a company wants to hire a Project Manager, they may decide to hire project managers with domain experience (the same case with business analysts and to a lesser degree, software testers).

      So, a Software Development Project Manager has handson (not educational) experience working in software Development shops or teams. IT Project Managers may not have software development experience but they have project management experience in Technology Projects (Data Warehousing, E-Commerce, Networking / Infrastructure) and Project Managers have Project Management Experience but not necessarily software development or information technology (IT) management experience.

      all this being said, the first task facing you is choosing the right career … what do you think is the right career for you?

      You may want to consider downloading the FREE WORKBOOK ATTACHED HERE … On How To Make A Career Change

  2. Whiskey

    I am a software developer, interesting in moving to a career in project management.

    How would I go about doing this?

    • You move up in life by serving others … by becoming a leader who serves others, you will get the job you want.

      So, start by learning everything that you can about project management.

      Next, look out for opportunities to help your team, manager or colleagues in a project management capacity … even though you will be doing this informally.

      Help a lot of people in your company get their projects done on time and under budget … because that is what a project manager primarily does.

      Don’t look down on any opportunity to serve … perhaps, all you can do for a project manager is to help gather the requirements of the project … do it.

      Perhaps all you can do for another project manager is to help lead the team meetings … do it!

      Perhaps all you can do for another project manager is to help him or her estimate the technical complexity in terms of time, money, resources and technological complexity … do it!

      As you help others succeed, you will become recognized were you are as a leader … a project manager in the making and you will be giving bigger and bigger roles to audition for.

      One day, you will get the chance to work full-time as a project manager and that even when you get that dream job, don’t forget how you got there and what it is all about … serving others, helping people!

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