Just starting out and looking to jump-start your
career? Here are some ways to get ahead.
By Bhanu Vadlakonda, CAPM
key skills faster. When it becomes
second nature, your career is
bound to advance.
LEARN FROM OTHERS
The best way to gain this mindset is
simple: Observe experienced project managers to understand how
they execute projects and handle
challenges. If possible, approach a
superior and ask to assist him or
her informally with trivial tasks.
I did this at the start of my career. I asked
a project manager to allow me to attend his
project meetings to take minutes. There were
plenty of discussions I didn’t understand—so I
asked team members to explain new topics to
me. I ended up learning a lot, and it helped me
advance at my organization.
If a superior agrees to let you help out, be sure to
carefully execute tasks and exceed expectations. If
you think something can be done in a better way,
speak up. If your suggestion doesn’t work, you’ll
learn why. And here’s the nice perk of this sort of
informal training: There’s no penalty if you make a
mistake, because you’ve volunteered to help.
USE FREE TOOLS
Another way to push your knowledge and career
forward: free project management tools. There are
hundreds of online tools— wrike.com, asana.com,
basecamp.com and projectmanager.com are good
places to start. Take advantage of a free trial to
plan and execute personal projects, such as a road
trip with family or friends, or a birthday party.
Most of these tools come with free training videos
to get you up to speed quickly.
The bottom line: There’s a world of opportunity
out there for any aspiring project manager. It’s
up to you to be on the lookout—and seize every
opportunity to take your skills to the next level. PM
Traditionally, becoming a full-time, full-fledged project manager equires four to five years of expe- rience working on a project team or as a project coordinator. For the
young and ambitious, a half-decade can seem like
an eternity. But there are ways to accelerate your
progress—all you need is a hunger to learn and a
proactive stance at work.
Earning a specialized degree or certification will
help you understand project management methodologies and show superiors you’re serious. PMI
offers many certifications—the Certified Associate
in Project Management (CAPM)® is a good place
to start. I earned my CAPM® with just a year of
experience on a project team. More advanced
certifications will require more formal training,
perhaps through one of PMI’s Registered Education Providers.
But credentials are one thing—thinking like a
project manager is another. Developing the project management mindset will help you master
Bhanu Vadlakonda, CAPM, works as a project
manager in the project management office
of the change management division of a
multinational bank in Singapore.
Voices NEXT-GEN PROJECT MANAGERS