are great entry-level roles in areas of finance, legal,
compliance, strategy and planning.
You could volunteer in the charity sector, but
it may not be a realistic prospect, especially if you
incurred debts while studying. Private sector organizations also offer unpaid internships. Again, this should
offer good practical experience, yet it is unpaid.
My advice is, don’t look for quick-fix unpaid
positions unless they really do offer you the opportunity of a first step on a career ladder. Rather,
concentrate on finding an entry-level job that will
give you great workplace experience. Personally,
I think no one should work for free in a profit-driven organization. I think entry-level employees
should be rewarded for their work if it is of real
value to the organization.
Q: I feel overworked and stressed, and my
work/life balance is nonexistent. What do I
need to do to start changing this?
A: Work/life balance is a struggle for many practitioners. With increased pressures to deliver and
expectations of doing more with less, project managers are no strangers to feeling overworked and
even burned out. So, it is good that you recognize
that something has to change.
This is a time for reflection. As difficult as it might
seem to spend time on this right now, without
understanding where your balance is compared with
where you would like it to be, it is going to be harder
Q: I’m trying to get into my first project man-
agement role, and I’m not sure where to start.
Should I consider working for free at first?
A: Getting your first break in a formal project
management position can be tough, especially if
you are entering the employment market for the
first time. Project management, as you have
probably realized, sees experience as king. So how
do you gain experience in the first place?
The mistake many people make when looking
to get their first break in project management is
assuming that their first role will be as a project
manager. If you speak to project managers, you will
quickly realize that 99.9 percent of them worked
in different positions before actually becoming a
It is crucial to understand what employers mean
when they talk about experience. There are two
types of experiences you should be interested in
gaining: experience associated with the industry
sector or area of business you are interested in and
experience associated with the delivery of projects.
For example, if you are interested in working as
a project manager in an investment bank, understanding how that sector works is going to be beneficial to your future career plans. You will want to
know how that business operates, what the culture
is like, what expectations it has of its project managers and, more important, what the expectations
of a project manager typically are.
For an entry-level post, you should concentrate
on positions that will expose you to experiences
that will build great project management skills.
Coordinators, analysts, planners and controllers
From taking a first career step
to fortifying a skill set, stability
starts with a strong foundation.
BY LINDSAY SCOTT