If I had only started sooner, I would be much further along in my own project management career.
I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
Here is someone just getting started who reached out to me for guidance. If you are starting out in your project management career (most of us are probably well past high school age!) you will find the information below helpful as well.
I am interested in becoming a project manager. What subjects are required in starting this career since I am just coming from high school?
Great question and I’m glad you are thinking about this already!
Narrow Your Focus
Think about what industry you’d like to manage projects in first. Project management has skills that cross-cut all industries, but in many cases it is an industry-specific skillset as well. Construction project management is very different from software engineering project management, or events management, or bio-pharma project management.
You may well find that the ‘Project Manager’ role isn’t really what you want, but you still want to work in a project environment. See this great discussion on the PM Career LinkedIn Group for some good tips there. (Join the group if you haven’t already!)
Given the answer to this question, you may want to focus on getting a degree specific to your industry or function. A computer science or engineering degree is a good route for leading to a career managing projects in those domains. A degree in aerospace may be a good idea if you want to work in those types of programs, etc.
General Leadership and Management Skills
Regardless of which industry you choose, there are managerial and people-focused skills you’ll want to study and hone. General management and leadership skills are critical. The study of psychology and group dynamics are also very helpful and provide information for daily decision making and strategies you’ll put into place as a project manager. I’ve found my background in organizational change management and process improvement to be very actionable and helpful as well.
General Project Management Skills
As far as general project management skills go, there are concepts in the project manager’s toolkit that apply broadly across all industries and functions you’ll want to study as well. Learning the fundamentals of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing projects is something that is useful in any project. Even if you use Lean/Agile practices or other approaches these groupings of activities happen within all projects.
Learning By Doing
As always, I highly recommend doing your utmost to find an internship, volunteer position, or other role where you can start practicing what you are learning in school or self-study. That is the very best way to become proficient and increase your career opportunities. You can use the strategies in “Just Say Yes!” to create opportunities for yourself.
Will you leave a comment below with your own advice for Kerdel?