command of the profession’s concepts and tools,
while his internship and volunteer experiences demonstrated that he’d developed the
soft skills needed to successfully run
a team. He landed his first full-time project manager position in
2013, working on logistics and software initiatives for Ingram Micro,
a wholesale technology distributor.
The following year, Mr. Steele began
his current role as project coordinator at CPP, where
he oversees an enterprise resource planning project
and a website-enhancement project.
A practitioner’s education cannot be considered
complete until he has actually managed projects, Mr.
Steele says. “Experience is often the greatest teacher,”
he says. “The certificate and the schooling give you
a background in the processes and techniques you
need to use, and A Guide to the Project Management
Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) gives you great
guidelines and tools,” he says. “But you don’t really
get the feel of it until you’re running projects and seeing the challenges you have to overcome.”
‘A TOUGH BUT BEAUTIFUL CAREER’
What first attracts young talent to the field is often
what makes the job itself so enjoyable—namely, the
fact that no two days are ever the same.
“Every project is unique,” Ms. Singh says, adding
that the unpredictability of projects, coupled with
the consistency of project management processes,
makes for a rewarding career. Ms. Stefan says
she also prizes the fact that her projects all have
a purpose: serving other people. “As a project
manager, you’re delivering something that will be
used by people. It will add value to someone or to
a company,” she says. “It’s a tough but beautiful
Grace Young, CAPM, 22, former
project coordinator, Versio, Seattle,
As I was finishing my bach- elor’s degree in health information technology from Eastern Washington University in Cheney,
Washington, USA, I started looking at entry-
level career positions in my field. They all involved
sitting in a computer lab all day, but I wanted to
work with people.
I contacted my mentors—professors and a CEO who
spoke at a healthcare conference I organized—and asked
what career they would recommend. They said a project
coordinator role in healthcare is something I’d be good at.
I could work with people and make a difference.
Last year I was hired at Versio, which does data migration and transcription for healthcare companies. In the
interview I said, “I know I don’t have formal experience,
but I have my education and tons of volunteer experience.” Passion is one of the things that got me hired—it’s
so important to be passionate about what you want to do.
As I studied for the Certified Associate in Project
Management (CAPM)® certification, I took what I was
learning—like how to create a formal project management
plan—and applied it to my job. There was some resistance
in the company, but I was able to say, “This is the proven
In February, I got the CAPM certification. As soon as I
have all the experience I need, I’ll get the Project Man-
agement Professional (PMP)® certification. That will help
me reach my ultimate career goal: working as a project
manager with cancer researchers.
is often the
—David Steele, CAPM