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What are some entry-level jobs that could lead to becoming a project manager?

I am a high school senior with a special interest in business. I hope to one day become a project manager at a company, but as I am looking at colleges and majors, I am wondering what steps lie in between graduating college and reaching a project manager position. I was wondering what some common starting positions are that could help me reach my goal of becoming a project manager, and possibly some insight about certain steps I need to take along the way. #business #management #career-path #project-management #entry-level #logistics-management


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Jenny’s Answer

Very nice goal! In many companies, there are entry-level project management roles (Junior PM, Junior Business Analyst, etc). That said, the project managers I work with mostly came into the role after being either in an account management role (more customer service/sales focused, which helps build communication skills) or from a line/production type role (software developer, implementation consultant, etc). As a PM, the more you understand the people working on the project team and what their tasks are, the better!


Definitely start looking into business and management courses that support building the competencies you need to be an excellent project manager. And there's lots of volunteer opportunities out there that will give you incredibly useful experience- working with nonprofits, there are tons of opportunities to work with mentors, take on and manage projects that will allow you to get experience and learn new skills.


Thank you very much for the advice, I will keep that in mind! Emily M.

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Jay’s Answer

I believe a job as an entry level consultant would be on a good trajectory to become a project manager in a couple of years.

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Richard’s Answer

Best of the Village

Hi Emily, as you can read from the responses so far there are many different paths to becoming a project manager. And it also varies for the type of project management you want to pursue... Technology, Biotech, Business, Environmental, and so on. Every type of business requires a project management role, even if there isn't a specific job with that title at a company someone is filling that role. This may make it sound confusing for someone who wants to plan their education for this particular role, but in fact in means it is easier since there are so many paths to getting there.


I've seen people become project managers from all of the paths people have already noted in this thread. And I agree that the most important skills in a project manager are a thorough understanding of all aspects of the projects you're working on, superb organizational skills for ensuring no one of your thousands of project items slips through the cracks, and strong leadership skills.


A lot of those skills will develop over time by continuing to put yourself in situations with new and increasing responsibility. In the technology field, to gain a deep understanding of the projects you want to project manage a lot of people start out as engineers. That's the path I took.


A key quality most project managers share is the desire to understand and be responsible for all aspects of a project rather than specialize in a particular area.


Hope this helps, let us know if you have any follow-up questions.


Thank you so much for the insight! Emily M.

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Simon’s Answer

Hi Emily,


There is a lot of good advice in the comments above. I have been a Project Manager and Project Engineering Manager in the Chemical Industry for 35 years. Key elements are: organization, communications, understanding of the goal, selecting a good team, and time management. Project managers are the key to executing projects successfully. Support engineers many times need to be managed to meet the schedule and cost restrictions. My suggestion are to get involved in a team engineering or science project. Participate as a team member, as well as lead a team. When I was hiring I looked for engineering students that had practical experience. Internships at the college level are the best way to get practical experience. Good Luck.


Thank you very much, that is very helpful advice! Emily M.

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Kim’s Answer

Glad to hear you are interested in Project Management. Here are some ideas to help you get started.


Consider joining as a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI.ORG, http://www.pmi.org/Membership/Membership-Benefits-of-Membership.aspx)
You can gain PM skills by volunteering. Consider a place that needs help in their organization. It will help you gain skills, contacts and other areas related to being a project manager. Habitat for Humanity has a lot of options.
Networking is another great option. Consider finding a PM mentor or job shadowing.
Try to learn about other cultures. Many project management jobs will require working with team members from different geographical regions.


Best of luck!


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Jeff’s Answer

Emily, great goal and great question. My opinion is that a truly great project manager knows all facets of the project they will be coordinating from bottom to top. If for example, you wish to be a project manager for a software company, it would be extremely useful to have a degree in computer science first. Then later obtain your MBA and also a certification in project management. As to jobs, a project manager's job is to manage a project and ensure the budget for cost\time, ensure the work is of sufficient quality and that the entire scope\needs are completed. Any job you get as a Sr in high school that has any of these facets associated with it is a good start. As you are in college, getting some internship experience with a project manager would be invaluable. Keep in mind also that a project manager has to be very detail oriented, have excellent organization skills, has ability and desire to follow-up on even the tiniest details.


Thank you for your response, your advice is very helpful! Emily M.

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Vandana’s Answer

Hello Emily,


Great to hear your career aspirations of becoming a project manager at a company.
As Andrew rightly mentioned, a PM must be good at organization and communication skills.
Other competencies required for this role may be found on https://www.onetonline.org/
Project Coordinator is a good role to perfect the basics of PM.
A project manager typically gathers requirements from stakeholders, makes a list of deliverables and time bound milestones, and keeps the team members updated and motivated to complete their tasks in time, to ultimately achieve the goal of the project. Emily, what all roles / starting positions can you think of where you can perfect these skills?
Looking forward to hear from you.
Wish you the very best!


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Jonas L.’s Answer

Great question! You must be willing to hustle and work hard. My wife was a theater major, she saw a management training program for the city and applied. She was diligent and consistent; as a result the doors open for her explore the options. Another friend of mine, he volunteered for a year, interned for two years, before his company hired him. In addition, he work 5 years before he became a project manager in the company.


Now some place require you to work a couple years in the field before they allow you to sit for the PM certification. So be prepared. You may want to stock you resume with PM like activities.


Thank you for the advice, I will keep that in mind! Emily M.

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Andrew’s Answer

Great question. Project management is a very important role in any organization. One thing it requires is organizational skills, and another is communication skills. The best project managers also really appreciate and understand the mission of the project and not just its goals and timetables.


If you can get an internship in a project management team or under a project manager that would be very informative.


But any exposure you can get to a professional environment will help propel you in the direction you want. Focus on getting new skills and experiences and building relationships. The rest will emerge over time. Good luck!


Thank you very much for taking the time to respond. I will definitely try to find internships and get as much exposure as I can. Thank you for the advice! Emily M.

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Aaron’s Answer

Emily,


Agile/SCRUM is a type of project management that is work checking out. It's an iterative development process that is gaining traction on both the technical and non-technical side of businesses and has a number of opportunities you could use to leverage your career. The two primary positions are a SCRUM Master & Product Owner. Both are quite different in terms of responsibilities and the SCRUM Master position is more likely entry level.


You can also get certified (which I would recommend) and they have an alliance worth checking out: https://www.scrumalliance.org


At minimum this method of project management is worth gaining a bit of understanding as I am sure you will run into it during your career search.


Aaron


Thank you, I will definitely look into that Emily M.

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Bianca’s Answer

Hello Emily,


I am a certified project manager who's worked in Information Technology with over 10+ years experience managing websites and mobile app projects. As a high senior, develop your leadership skills - the ability to lead a group, stick to a schedule to accomplish a series of tasks, communicate and ensure everyone knows what you're doing, solve problems quickly, etc.


Everyone has great advice for after college so I'll say something different.


Upon graduating high school, create a LinkedIn account (if you don't have one already). LinkedIn is a wonderful place to do career exploration. The social media platform has nearly 400 million professionals placed all over the globe. You can view their profiles to discover various career paths.


Thank you so much, that is very helpful! I will be sure to do that Emily M.

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Robert’s Answer

Project management is a role, but you need to initially focus on the skills necessary to qualify for a PM role. Those skills include general communication (how to provide status updates, keep people motivated and informed), crucial conversations (what happens when something goes wrong), scheduling/planning (how to lay out a project/dependencies), and virtual team collaboration tools (how to use webex, box, etc). In addition, its hard to just jump in and manage a project without seeing how a project is run by a professional. I would recommend obtaining ANY type of internship where you are assigned to a project, even as an admin, to gain exposure to a well-run project. Finally, its also difficult to run a project when you don't really understand any of the roles on the project. Start with being a junior business analyst, mapping out the process/requirements for a small component of the project. Then you can get involved in Quality Assurance or Development and finally you can move over to Project Management. I have used my Project Manager skills off and on for the past 20 years of my career. I do hope this answer helps.


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Ericka’s Answer

Hello. For some of the individuals that I mentor, I suggest testing the water to,see if you actually like pm work. PMI offers a CAPM course, just under a PMP cert. This helps with defintions and a good base of knowledge so tou know terms.


You may try reaching out to local non profits to see if you could help manage a project for them. You will get real world experience for your resume, pjct hours and do some good for your community.


Best of luck!


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Aime’s Answer

In my experience, anything that gives you first hand, level entry experience on how processes work (e.g. order processing, customer service, jr. sales positions) gives you the ability to understand therefore, lead and communicate with stakeholders throughout a project. I agree with previous comments, project management is very broad and can mean many things. Personally, I find that Communication it is a key aspect of Project Management and entry level jobs can give you the confidence to communicate with your stakeholders.


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Surbhi’s Answer

Hey!

In my personal experience I started my career with an entry level job as a project analyst for my company which helped me learn and gain skillsets related to project management. You can work your way in this career path to eventually become a project manager should you choose and if you still feel that it is a right fit for you. You can keep gaining project management experience and working your way up the project management career ladder without a degree, certification, or other “classical” project manager education.

OR you can either go the “traditional” route which is to get a qualification/certification (PMP), and take a role as a project manager.

If you do choose to go the the route of not getting a traditional degree make sure to find jobs that will be relevant to project management. This includes: research, planning, budgeting, coordinating, managing resources, and much more. All these things need to be managed and overseen correctly to make sure that your project stays on track.

If you are enjoying the project management side more than any other aspect of your job then you know this is the right path for you!!

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Ken’s Answer

Hi Emilty,


This link will provide you with much information about becoming a project manager and provide you with a live chat with an educational consultant.


What is a Project Manager? - CEG
www.corpedgroup.com › Resources › Pm
... think you would like to make a career out of project management. What exactly does a successful project manager do and what does it take to become one?


Project manager is a title that is used very broadly to refer to a person leading a group towards a goal. It could be in any type of job and any type of industry.


These are just a few hints. I would like to help further if needed. Keep me posted.


Remember to sent thank you notes to people who help you.


Best of luck!!


Thank you for the advice! Emily M.

Best of luck! Keep me posted. I would like to help further if I can Ken Simmons

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