Are You Stuck in a Career Rut?

Filed under Career | Posted by PMStudent

BJ is a USA subscriber to my PM Career Newsletter and we had a great discussion.? BJ graciously permitted me to post this slightly edited version on his behalf.? I invite? you all to add your comments and share your own questions!

Getting Unstuck - by Clevergrrl via Flickr

Getting Unstuck - by Clevergrrl via Flickr

Hi Josh,

Thanks for the email. My primary reason for joining your site is to try and dig myself out of this career rut I’m in. I’ve worked as a Project Coordinator for the last 3 years, but my overall project experience totals close to 7 years. I can’t seem to break into the next level of Project Management, and figure the PMP has to be my next step, I just wanted a Professional’s opinion and mentoring, to ensure I’m ready for the next step, when it comes! Any help you could provide would be a tremendous help!

I look forward to working with, and learning from you!




Josh:? What kinds of activities do you do as a project coordinator, and what’s the difference between a project coordinator and a project manager in your organization?


BJ:? In my last few roles as a Project Coordinator, I’ve worked with Project Managers, creating and managing project plans using MS Project. I’ve also scheduled meetings, handled meeting minutes, worked on RAM (Resource Allocation Management), as a couple of examples. I’ve also worked as a Business Analyst, gathering requirements for several projects, as well as conducted some End User testing on multiple software projects.
I’ve seen several different areas of IT Project Management, but am having trouble piecing my experience together enough to show that I’m capable of managing a project on my own. I’m just not sure how I can get my “big break”, and am hoping that you can help!


Josh:? I see. I have a few ideas.

* Networking/finding a mentor – It’s going to be critical that you show interest in becoming a PM and have advocates out there who know you and want to see you succeed. They will be the ones who find places for you to get your foot in the door.
* Managing “sub-projects” – on larger projects, it may be possible for you to manage one branch of the WBS.
* Volunteer work – even outside your organization, you can manage projects for non-profit entities, etc. You may have already seen my story about proposing a project for a PMI SIG so that I could act as the project manager for it.

Do you feel like you are “pigeon-holed”, like everyone thinks of you as a project coordinator and not a PM? If so, think about what the key attributes are that distinguish a PM in your organization that you are not currently displaying to people. Find ways that you can through what I’ve mentioned above or anything else you can think of.


BJ:? Thank you for your insight! I truly appreciate it. I’d also like to ask you about your educational experience, if you don’t mind. I’m currently exploring my educational options, and was wanting some feedback on your experience with the Project Management programs at Colorado Technical University. Their BS program seems really interesting, and was hoping you could share some insight into the program. I currently live in Indianapolis, and would tackle the program remotely.


Josh:? I had a good experience at Colorado Tech, my degree program was an in-class one so I can’t vouch for their online programs but they are probably good too. You may want to Google around and see if any local universities are offering this now, there are many more options available today than when I was in school.