Project Management - Gain Project Management Experience
Project management is one of the very best skill-sets that a person can learn in modern business. The basic principles of project management can be applied to almost any sector, industry or area and are essential in helping businesses to develop new products and services, improve their processes and avoid risks.
If you want to become a project manager, there are plenty of opportunities to get the skills, experience and expertise to move into this very rewarding career. In this article we'll explore some of the options that are open to you including training, mentoring, secondment and running your own small projects.
Because project management is a vast field with hundreds of different techniques, multiple frameworks, varied approaches and a broad range of skills, any experience that you can get in projects will improve your chances of becoming a project manager. Ares that we'll explore include:
- Helpful qualities if you want to move into project management
- Ask if you can be part of a project team
- Become an intern or get a secondment or job-swap into project management
- Get project management training
- Run a small project
- Get a mentor
- Transfer to an area related to project management
Helpful qualities if you want to move into project management
If you want to become an effective project manager or a valuable part of a project team, some of the qualities that you will find useful include:
- Objective analysis - Looking at a project either while it is happening or after it is complete and analyzing what went well and what didn't.
- Open-mindedness - Understanding what happened and being honest about improvements that you or the project could have made.
- Flexibility - Being able to vary the approach and techniques to suit the project and business requirements.
- Listening - Being able to carefully and comprehensively understand the various requirements, restrictions and other areas of the project.
- Building relationships - Maintaining and improving relationships with stakeholders, project teams and other areas to help the project complete on time, on budget and on schedule.
- Communications - Being able to communicate about the project in a meaningful way to the right audience using the right channels.
Getting project management experience
There are many ways to get project management expertise and experience.
Ask if you can be part of a project team
Often, the simplest way to become part of a project team is to ask. Talk to your supervisor about getting involved in a project. This might be as part of gathering requirements, testing, providing support and more. You probably won't need to be in a specific business area to help out with a project as project managers are often seeking people from across the business to provide insight, information and testing.
Become an intern or get a secondment or job-swap into project management
If your business offers intern positions, job-swaps or secondments, see if you can get work directly in a project management area. Because it is such a useful skill-set to have, your manager might be interested in seconding you into project management for a few months so that you can learn and bring skills back into your regular business area.
The main skills that project managers need
Get project management training
There are thousands of courses that can teach you about general project management or that focus on specific techniques and frameworks. Whether you self-study, complete courses online, attend a training course or get training in some other way, these courses can be extremely helpful. You might also want to see if your business or organization will fund your training.
Run a small project
You don't need to be in project management to run a project. In many businesses, small projects are run across the organization. Talk to your supervisor about pieces of defined, time-bound work that need doing in your business area. If you can identify something that could be a good candidate for a project, volunteer to run it.
Get a mentor
A mentor is someone with skills and experience that can provide you with insight, support and guidance. Your organization might offer a formal mentoring program or you might speak to someone to see if they would be an informal mentor to you. Mentoring is useful to both you and the person providing the mentoring to you, as they get to share their skills and experience.
Transfer to an area related to project management
You don't need to transfer into project management directly as there may be other areas of your organization that could provide you with some useful skills. That might be business analysis, support, development, the program office or somewhere else. Look for opportunities that could act as an interim role.
Read more of our helpful, expert guides to successfully managing a project:
Introduction to project management - The main concepts of project management
How project management can help your small business - How project management can help your small business launch new products, services and processes
The main objectives of project management - The things project management should accomplish
The project management plan - One of the most vital aspects of getting a project right
What is a project baseline? - How to baseline a project
Resource scheduling and planning - Making sure the right people do the right things at the right time
‘What If?’ scenarios - A critical part of risk and issue management
Project portfolio management - For when just managing one project isn’t enough
Communications management for projects - Getting your project messages read and acted on
The right project management software - Essential to running a project well
Get project management experience - Want to break into the field? Here are some tips and tricks
Project management training - How to find the right training course for you
Project management consulting - Learn about consulting for project management
Choosing the right specialist - Make sure you get your money’s worth
What way would you prefer to get project management experience?
Ultimately, demonstrating that you are interested in project management and have the potential to be a skilled project manager is the best thing that you can do to enhance your chances. Managers and supervisors are often looking for self-starting employees that can demonstrate a positive approach, aptitude and willingness to learn.
Talk to your supervisor in your next career discussion about running projects, training, secondment and other opportunities to move into this very rewarding career.