5 answers

What is the job description like for an entry level product manager? Is it advisable to get a masters in product management right after bachelor’s degree?

Asked Katy, Texas

#business #management #productmanager#leadership

5 answers

Dean’s Answer

Updated San Jose, California

I don't think you could ever maximize a post graduate education without having experience to apply to the instruction. I personally worked for several years before completing my masters degree.

Robin’s Answer

Updated Summerville, SC

I did not get my master's degree until 20 years into my career and I will never regret it.  I do wish I had gotten it earlier, although it was not required.

Thank you very much

Heidi’s Answer

Updated Dallas, Texas

Precious, I cannot speak directly to the job description of a product manager. However, I would like to address the second part of your question in regards to getting your Master's right after your Bachelor's Degree.

If you have the means and ability to move directly into a Master's program, I highly recommend it! No matter what career field you choose, many companies will take your educational background into consideration when choosing an applicant. Having a Master's degree will typically put you at the front of the line over individuals who posses a Bachelor's Degree. I do recommend choosing a broad field of study for your Master's degree that can be used in a multitude of careers (ie: Business Management). However, if you know that you absolutely want to pursue product management, do not hesitate to gain all of the relevant knowledge specific to that field.

I will tell you that it becomes much more difficult to go back to school to obtain your Master's Degree once you start your career. Some companies offer Tuition Assistance, which does help, but finding the time is typically the largest hurdle. I personally wish that I would have enrolled in a Master's program right after I graduated with my Bachelor's Degree. There are some companies that will only hire employees with a Master's Degree once they get to a certain level.

I wish you the best of luck in your decision and your future career path!

Heidi recommends the following next steps:

  • Research Product Management Careers via platforms like Indeed.com and look at the descriptions and requirements to see what level of education they typically look for.
Very insightful! Thank you Heidi.

Janie’s Answer

Hi Precious,

I'm currently a product manager at a tech company in SF. From my personal experience, you don't need to get a masters in product management in order to get a job or be successful in your field (in fact, most my co-workers don't have their masters!).

Product Management, especially when you're first starting out, is about understanding a couple main things:

  1. What product do your customers actually want? What features does this product have (for example, for a product like Google Home, features would include, speaker, wifi-enabled, small size, etc)? Which ones are most important? Which ones are only nice-to-haves?
  2. How does your product make money or contribute back to the business?
  3. What's the path to building this product? What kind of time and money investment will it require? How long will it take?
  4. How do you explain this product to your customers in a way that's exciting and easy-to-understand?

As a product manager, you'll work closely with engineers, designers, user researchers, data analysts and many functions (or at smaller companies, you'll even work in these roles!). A lot of your job will be making sure you're focused on building the right things and you're on track to deliver it. You'll learn a ton of this on the job (life/experience is a great teacher!), and in the future, if you do decide to get a Masters, it might even be in a more specialized field that applies to a specific area/type of product you want to work on (e.g. artificial intelligence, hardware, social networks, etc).

Hope that helps!

Pamela’s Answer

Updated Pawtucket, Rhode Island

I would go get real life experience, and work for a company that will pay for a masters. You do not need a master in PM, you will be better served to get an MBA.

You have to be willing to start out somewhere first doing grunt work, doing any and everything that it thrown your way. Sit in on meetings, learn how planning is done, how backlogs are built, how user testing is accomplished. Ask to participate and help in as much as you can. Do not sit back and expect that you are above the entry level work. Every single meeting and experience will be a lesson for you. Be a go getter, a self-starter, someone who takes initiative. A boss will see that and reward you with responsibility that will help you grow into product owner. A great way to really get after it is to start working for a start up.

Thank you Pamela!