Many roles cover elements of project management but increasing numbers of people are interested in making this a career area for themselves. This role will get you looking at managing people, budgets and resources. This is a role for a calm and focused individual with an eye for detail and a clear ability to communicate what they are doing in a way that motivates and inspires their team
Do you have the skills?
Ok, skills are essential in all roles but the key ones for a project manager are the ability to motivate and manage a team. You have to be organised and allow yourself the space to deal with the unknown and the unexpected. Yes you need a plan but that plan has to be clear and it has to be agreed with clients and have a fixed time frame that may need to be added to or changed at short notice. Can you communicate effectively and clearly to all of the different people you deal with? How are you in a crisis? No time to go to pieces; you have to demonstrate you are resilient and flexible. Can you make sure that you are diplomatic whilst ensuring that you get your client to make a decision? And the hidden ingredient would be a knowledge of your sector – yes good old fashioned business awareness!
What can I do to get work experience?
Look for any opportunities to help you develop your organisational skill-set. Think about the experience it can give you and see where it can take you. Look at administrator and co-ordinator roles and be prepared to play a supportive role to gain understanding and knowledge. Look to any club or society experience you can get and to any work shadowing opportunities that come your way. This is a role that covers all areas of business so you can look to the sector that most interests you can collect your experience and build up your networks. Reflect on what the experience has given you and also what gaps in your knowledge it has demonstrated and fill those gaps.
Professional bodies and accreditation
There are many professional bodies that can offer you information and advice as well as having access to their member’s vacancies. Look at APM (the Association of Project Management) and the Project Management Institute (PMI) – you can join as a student member or follow them on Twitter. Other bodies to research include Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Chartered Institute for IT (BCS)
Who employs Protect Managers?
Everyone can have a need for a project manager. Some may hire people to permanent roles and some may look to take on staff on temporary contracts. You can expect to be working in IT, retail, supply chain management, construction, the public sector, Finance, Manufacturing or Architecture. But the possibilities are limitless.
Are there graduate schemes for Project management?
Yes, there are graduate schemes. Here you will start out as an assistant project manager or a graduate project manager and learn your trade. Alternatively you can look to see if you meet the criteria of ‘experienced hire’ roles but you will be expected to hit the ground running in these roles and not be learning on the job.
What do I need in my CV?
Evidence of how you meet the job you are applying for. Evidence of the skills that are essential to the role. As with any CV it is knowing your audience and what they are looking for and tailoring it to their needs. Talk about the stakeholders, the work you have done on budgeting and how you have communicated. Talk about risk management ideas you have implemented and outcomes. It is all to do with the ability (and evidence of that ability) to manage their projects.
Can I look to add to my skills?
Yes – you can look at additional courses that may help you such as Agile Project management and Prince2 but there are other courses available and it will depend on what it is you want to achieve and what your sector’s needs are. You will, as your experience builds, probably move into more strategic roles. Good luck!