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How and Where to gain Industry Project Management experience as a volunteer, while still working in academia?

I am a postdoc fellow in life sciences. I have been in a lab doing bench work for years and this is not as much fun and exciting as it used to be. Now, I am looking at my options, trying to figure out what my next move should be;
I have just started learning on my own what PM is and would like to put that into practice. #science #biotechnology #pharmaceuticals #project-management #life-sciences #portfolio-management #certified-project-manager

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Subject: Career question for you

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Dave’s Answer

In addition to the advice that's already been posted, check out the Agile Alliance and the Scrum Alliance for information on another approach to project management- the Agile and Scrum frameworks. You'll find resources on their sites that may kick start some ideas and approaches for you. There are training options there as well, which could afford you the opportunity to build your network of contacts and gain certifications. Speaking of networks, check out the various groups on LinkedIn that are dedicated to project management and read and ask questions there. Use LinkedIn to network, network, network. Seek out people in the field and meet with them to pick their brains on how to get started. Look for intern opportunities at major companies in your area. You can find those opportunities by going to the "careers" tab on the company website.
There are a few ideas for you, so good luck and best wishes!

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Callie’s Answer

I am a bit biased but I love Project Management and I think you made a great choice considering it!


So, depending on the options you are considering, I recommend one of the things you look into is the types of certifications available for project managers. Certifications in project management are very beneficial and can mean higher salaries in some cases. There are a couple well know theories of project management. One is offered by the Project Management Institute which is most typically used in general projects and sometimes IT projects. https://www.pmi.org/ The other is Six Sigma which has historically been used in manufacturing but is now being applied in several other areas as well. https://www.isixsigma.com/training/certification-articles/what-six-sigma-certification/ Either or both certifications are great for success in project management and they make you much more appealing to employers.


Next, if you want to find out more about what project managers do, I would actually talk to a few project managers and project teams. You could approach consulting companies that specialize in project management, healthcare organizations (they always have a project going on), or local universities that offer project management courses. Here's a great link to some discussion blogs you could enter too to ask your questions. http://mastersinprojectmanagement.org/top-30-web-forums-for-project-management-professionals.html


Please let me know if you have any questions or want to talk further!

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Simon’s Answer

I'm glad you are interested in Project Management and have started looking into his field. I'm not sure what you have read/heard about Project management, but I think it is very important that you contact some project engineers and seek out their experience, opinions and insight of real world project management. As mentions above, this can be done through recent local school graduates, engineering companies or even a plant internship. I'm not sure how much available time you have, but having a good mentor is very important. A degree is not mandatory, but training is. Good project management requires a good communications, a systematic approach to progressing a project forward, tracking the progress, and being able to solve problems along the way. Good luck.

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Heather’s Answer

You have been provided a great deal of advice so far, which is wonderful to see! I have been a project manager for several years now; however I do not hold my certification. My role has never required it although my company certainly encourages it pending what types of projects you may handle/manage. I would recommend joining LinkedIn if you are not already on there. There are many resources within their website and even groups of project managers you could reach out to for advice. Many colleges or even community colleges offer degrees and certification in PM, which could be helpful to you. Good luck to you!
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Raelyn’s Answer

Look at different industry leading organizations. Many of them offer internships in project management to help you get exposure to the field.
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Ellen’s Answer

At the very beginning, you could participate in any group or organization and just volunteer to lead an initiative or help the leader. This would help you develop the skills necessary for project management. One key skill is Organization: making a list of what activities need to be done, who will do these actvities , when do the activities need to be done and tracking to completion. The other key skill is communication: making sure the action items are understood and gaining the trust of the team so they will come to you and ask questions. If the actvity involves money, even better! Now you are getting budgeting experience!

If there is a PMI group near you, you could join. They have periodic meetings and would certainly give you ideas.

Hope this helps!
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Kathleen’s Answer

You have been offered some great advice so far. I agree that you should get as familiar as possible with the Agile and Scrum methodology, both of those will offer valuable skills. You will need to build good partnerships along the way, those will help when you hit a road block in knowing who to bring in, if it is impacting the delivery date, and communication of the plan. Try and look at things from an orderly perspective for the project overall and stay organized. All of these things will help you in numerous aspects of business. Best of luck!
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Vernon’s Answer

Move to Germany or Denmark. That is where good science is being done and careers begun. You will be able to finish your Ph.D. there for free and gain a skill set you won't find in the United States anymore.


As a former science educator and industrial engineer, I've seen the exodus of professional jobs that are satisfying, gratifying and worthwhile to society be sent overseas because corporate America simply doesn't want to pay the salaries. Sorry.


Until this country re-sets its priorities and puts working people back in charge of more responsibility and better jobs/wages, that's the trend. If you are as bright and capable as you seem, you will land on your feet in Europe.

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