Careers advisors have been working with young people for decades to help them recognise their potential through various testing and quizzes which often list project management as a suggested route for those who demonstrate an organised approach to working. However it is one thing being listed as a suggested profession and another thing actually being able to attain a project management role. Most of the PM people I know happened to fall into the field – like myself, I was working on quality control for a large blue chip when I was asked to get involved with some continuous improvement projects. Having demonstrated my willingness and aptitude to managing these projects I was put on courses to learn a structured approach to delivery and quickly moved into a role where I was managing new product introduction projects across Europe. I haven’t looked back and having been fortunate enough to have a supportive senior management team I learnt a great deal very quickly.
I would always recommend those who want to get into PM take a look at their current circumstances, what can you do where you are to achieve your goals? If you are yet to secure a new role then I suggest targeting businesses with the scope to be able to offer more, later down the line. Make a point of securing a new position which is ideally office based and work hard, get noticed for the right reasons and don’t be disheartened if you don’t feel you are moving at a pace you feel you deserve. It is important to make sure you gain some trust by the senior management team, once they know you can do the task in hand (i.e. the job you were employed for) and can see your willingness to be involved in projects you should start being invited to get involved. In the first instance you are likely to be asked to support a project, this is a great basis to build up your portfolio of skills and gain a greater understanding of how projects are run. You will also get to work with other parties around the business and begin to be recognised in this field. The knock on effect is that you may then be requested from other areas in the business to join new projects. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, be open to training, and be keen to join in.
This can work for those already established within a business, if you have been working in a job which isn’t challenging you, take time to speak with your manager and ask if there are any projects you can get involved with. Explain you are keen to be involved but be careful not to be too dismissive of your current role – think about the reasoning behind why you want work on projects, always take a positive approach.