Hi everyone,

I was hoping to get some help. Could anyone provide me some information on how one goes about developing to become a project manager outside of a graduate training scheme?

I'm a recent graduate, just turned 25. I've graduated in Economics and Politics. Right now, I'm applying for graduate positions but, given the current economic situation, I would like to know other avenues to what I want to do in the long term. I want to become a project manager. I just don't know how to do it without getting a graduate training scheme.

Could anyone offer me some advice on what to do?

craig_john_harris's picture

 I would definitely recommend

asteriskrntt1's picture

I would talk to project management people.  And look at this site. 

It is the premier site for earning your project management credentials.



mmann's picture
Licensee Badge

... and, considering the large population of unemployed PMs with long lists of credentials, I wouldn't bank on getting a position based on book learning alone.  Try getting involved as a volunteer for a community outreach program.  Organizing other volunteers to achieve something great will demonstrate PM and leadership abilities, and give you a warm feeling to boot!


avais's picture

Thank you for your responses and help.

I have been heavily involved with community work for the past two years and have delivered many short projects, which actually led me to want to become a project manager in the first place. I wanted to get a sense of where one should go from here.

jhack's picture

[The suggestions below assume you are not currently between jobs]

Project managers usually focus on certain kinds of projects:  public works, software development, construction, pharmaceuticals, etc.  While superficially similar, there are very different challenges to be faced in each area.  

Think about the kinds of projects undertaken in your field, and start by participating in those projects.  Offer to assist the PM, pay close attention to what he/she does, what kinds of reports they prepare, how they run meetings, etc.  

Most people are asked to take on management or project management roles because they excel as individual contributors.  Be excellent at your job, and that, more than any training, is your best path. 

Finally, tell your boss that you would like to develop as a project manager.  How will you get the offer if you don't let it be known that you want it?  

John Hack

avais's picture

John, Thank you for that advice.

DPWade's picture

There is a large Project Management Discussion Group on linkedin that would reflect the broad category of PM, and reveal applicability.   The discussions there will expose you to the specific industries that actually make becoming a PM meaningful to YOU, as only you can translate Economics/Politics into a PM role that interests you.


Cocasio's picture

I worked for a few years as an individual contributor and worked up the technical ladder.  I volunteered for several community based organizations where I was able to develop my pm skills such as scheduling, facilitation and conflict resolution.  I highlighted these skills on my resume and was able to secure a role as a project manager.

Graduate programs are all great and good but nothing beats actual experience.  And nothing says that experience must come attached to a title.

avais's picture

Thank you guys.

So the advice seems to be:

i) Get project management experience, even if it isn't in a formal job capacity
ii) Think about the area I want to go in to.

Is that correct?

DPWade's picture

Avais, your 2 steps above are backwards.

I cant BLUF this take....bear with me.  I became a PM a decade before PMI started writing its curriculum.  Commercial Construction Project Manager, in charge of new large scale complex facilities (Hospitals, Prisons, University Labs, etc.)  The Administrative and Professional side of the Construction Industry disdains PMI and its PMP cert process.  What we see in the PMPBOK through our lens is non-pragmatic Demming philosophy.  Our technically tangible world of Project Management, creating physical environments from mere ideas, believes it already has a perfected process and PMI disregards it.  Yet the PMP is creeping into our industry as a perceived value nonetheless.  I have been interviewed recently by an organization that manages capitol construction projects and recently began requiring their PM's to be PMI certified (among other experience) because the CIO finds its value in the IT side of "project management".  The PMP perception of expertise value is driven largely by IT and has little resemblance to what our industry practices, as a result, PM's in our industry are beginning to get certified purely out of market demand during this downturn.  My point to Avais is the position "Project Manager" is so broad now, compared to even 10 years ago, that one must target an industry, and only after that, discover fully what that industry's PM's actually do, how they function and what are their proven best practices.  Dont let semantics lead you into an unintended career.  Due diligence, investigation are key before you commit.


avais's picture

That is brilliant advice, DPWade. Thank you. (Forgive me, I couldn't find your name)

My passion is for charity/NGO work. I've been in an organisation for the past two years that works on empowering the Muslim community in political and media activism, creating and running their projects. That's what got me in to the idea of project management and it's THIS "industry" that I want to work in. I have no interest in the IT side of it - I like working out the tasks, pitching the idea, managing the people to deliver the tasks and seeing it through to the conclusion. IT is just helpful (I use Excel to monitor the project tasks and deadlines).

My proudest achievement to date was leading the delivery of a 350 people fundraising charity dinner that raised £25,000 for conflict victims in Pakistan. I love that stuff.

I guess what I'm asking for is how do I turn that in to a job, as right now it's voluntary?

DPWade's picture

(loud clapping sound)

Specifically targeted charity functions are out of my I'll bow out here for others to suggest.