By Yury Shkoda, PMP
You love technology, and you enjoy being a project manager. Your career choice seems obvious. IT Project Manager! But who will hire a beginner? And how much technical knowledge do you really need?
You probably do not need how to code. In fact, as a project manager you are NOT supposed to be writing the code. You are supposed to be managing the project. Let your experts do the coding. You do need to understand the product development cycle. And you want to understand the steps your team members take to be ready to release their project. You need to be able to understand how they work, and to serve as a liaison between your team and your other stakeholders. That being said, yes, some organizations do want their project managers to be able to code, or to test. And if you do not come from a technology background, then these are not the right places for you.
How do you get started? By doing some research. Look at your favorite job sites and look at the project manager jobs that interest you. Note the job descriptions, and the qualifications for the required candidates. Look for common themes and be open to adding to your skills and education. Some organizations are looking for their project managers to balance things out. Perhaps you bring some other type of expertise, that their technical team does not possess.
Once you land an interview, be able to speak to how you bring the right skills to the position. It also helps if you demonstrate:
- Good soft skills
- A clear understanding of project management
- Quick thinking
- Willingness to learn
- Enthusiasm for the work
I personally know a project manager in our IT company, who had no technical background when he started. When looking for a job in IT, he took it a step further – he started attending meetups for IT professionals. It’s simple, but genius. All it takes is to google the IT meetups near you, check the schedule and show up. The benefits of these meetups are immense. Attendees learn new things, meet with new people who have the same passion, and most importantly – they get out of their comfort zones.
This project manager got a chance to meet some IT specialists in informal surroundings. They recommended to him some online courses to become familiar with the field. After attending several meetups and completing a basic IT course, he got the feeling that he was becoming a part of the community. Eventually, someone from these meetups heard about an opening in our company for a project manager. The position was without pay for the first two months. He agreed to it and in two months, thanks to his enthusiasm and diligence, he got a full-time position to manage small IT projects.
Looking for your opportunity might not be easy, but it is worth it. It will take time. Don’t neglect opportunities that don’t offer a great salary but do offer experience. It’s not always about money, but about connections, future opportunities and invaluable experience. You never know where it can get you.
Keep learning and good luck!!!
My name is Yury Shkoda. I am a certified PMP and a software developer teacher in New York. I’ve worked as a web developer and project manager for quite some time. The most recent personal project I’ve been working on is creating a resource for the preparation to the PMP exam https://www.erudicat.com/. I believe that constant learning is the key ingredient to success. In my free time, I love traveling and flying drones.