Hi there! You know, many of my peers out there ask me how to get into entry level project management jobs. They are usually business analysts or IT developers who want to get into the PM track so they can start leading teams and influence the larger outcomes of projects.
Well, in order to get into project management, it’s definitely useful to chalk up experience first. If you walk into a job interview with no project management experience on your resume, it’s tough to expect the employer to hire you.
There various entry level PM roles you can find in the market. You should try out one of these so that over time, you’ll at least have some PM experience in order to springboard yourself into a full-fledged project management career.
The other thing about entry level PM jobs is that they allow to experiment. You learn and apply PM techniques – and if you fall, you get up and you learn again. In entry level roles, you have great opportunities to do that.
An entry level PM job helps you learn the ropes
Once you’re a senior project manager, the chances for you to “try and fail” will be much less. You’ll likely be running mission critical projects where “failure is not an option”.
Ok, let’s talk about some of these entry level PM jobs without further ado.
1. In End-User Environments
First up, the end-user role. You can chalk up valuable project manager experience points as an end-user.
What do I mean by end-user? It means that you’re working in a user environment – perhaps you’re a product controller, a banking credit operations officer, or a banking IT developer.
Now, take banks for example. If you work in there as a credit operations officer, the chances of you running projects is quite small.
The end-user environment is business-as-usual – meaning that from 9 am to 5 pm you’re processing applications, or doing trade settlement, etc. If you want a role as a PM in there, you’d best approach your in-house consulting group and see if they have openings for positions in projects.
Usually, they have some roles for business analysts who know the operations well but may not have project experience.
Try to get one of those entry-level roles. From there, build up any team leadership experience you can get, then move to a junior PM role subsequently.
2. In Software Vendors
If you work in a software vendor, the chances of you playing a project manager role can be very high. Most of the resources in software firms like Temenos, Avaloq, SAP, etc. are system consultants.
This means they understand the system users’ needs and configure software to meet requirements. As they progress in seniority, many of these consultants move on to play PM roles.
I have many friends who started out in software vendor firms playing the role of system consultant. They’re very good with the software but also over time, picked up project management skills.
Many of them have since crossed from the software vendor side into banks, where they play full-time project manager roles.
If you’re interested in becoming an IT project manager, getting in a company as either a BA or test manager will stand you in very good stead for becoming a PM someday.
3. In Consulting Firms
There’s another category of firms with entry-level project management jobs – consulting firms.
I’m talking about the likes of Accenture, IBM Global Business Services, the Big 4 (Pricewaterhousecoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte).
These firms have a lot of project managers both in the IT and non-IT domains. If you’re in one of these firms, find an entry-level role like that of a business analyst (usually acting as a functional stream lead in system projects) or test manager.
These roles help you accumulate project experience required to get into a project management role in future.
In companies in Accenture, IBM and the Big 4, project management is quite an established career track. However, in more strategic consulting firms like McKinsey or Bain and Company, project management is less prevalent.
This is both due to the short nature of strategic consulting projects, plus the fact that many project managers may quit the firm due to burnout.
Wrapping Up …
I hope the above has helped you understand more about entry level project management jobs out in the market.
If you’re interested in project management, there is really no substitute for good old on-the-job experience. Getting a BA or testing role will set you up nicely for project management.
Besides job experience, you can of course go and study a PMP. Of course, the PMP is no substitute for real project experience, but as a primer into the tools and techniques of the PM craft, it’s a great program to take.
And that’s all I have for now, folks. Until next time, have fun searching for those project management jobs!