Published in 52 Tips to Break Into Project Management
Back in May a Professor of Project Management (that’s right, a Professor), Geoff Crane approached me about getting involved in an intersting project.
Geoff’s brief was:
I teach project management at Durham College in Ontario. My first batch of students will graduate next month and as a gift I’m looking at putting together an ebook for them. It’s to be called “Tips to Break Into Project Management”. This is a burning issue for most of them, they’re really looking for advice. The Papercut Project Manager, Geoff Crane
Although over a decade now, I still remember how challenging it was to find a job when leaving university, let alone working out how to actually do that job! Thus I was more than happy to get involved with this, as were 51 other experienced Project Managers from 12 different countries.
The result I think blew all of my fellow contributors away. Geoff published an amazingly high-quality eBook, with sections on finding your Job, Project, Skills and Yourself. The eBook is now available to download for free on Geoff’s site.
For any aspiring, new or even experienced Digital Project Managers, I highly recommend giving this a read.
Below is my own contribution to this great project. Thank you to Geoff for inviting me to a part of this :)
On my very first day of university one of the lecturers explained to the students that over the next three years we would gain foundational knowledge in many areas, enough to get an idea of which areas we could specialize in but not enough to be an expert in any on completion of the course – she was right, but naturally, over the three years completely I forgot that.
Thus when I graduated I assumed I would walk into a job, but that’s not what happened. What transpired was around sixty job applications and only a handful of interviews. I was aiming too high.
I expected to get a job as a project manager, instead I slowly realised this was unlikely to happen with zero commercial experience and instead I took a job in a digital agency in a content entry role, the lowest of the low. But by this point I’d realised that sometimes this was how it has to be done and that ‘getting your foot in the door’ was the very first critical step when fresh out of school.
Once in a professional environment I quickly realised, despite my recent graduation and good grades, just how out of my depth I was and how little I actually knew. So, I sat, worked hard and professionally, but most importantly of all, I watched and listened to absolutely everything the experienced people did and said.
I sat and watched until, slowly but surely, I began to feel part of the team and able to make suggestions on certain processes. Over time I was able to implement some small tweaks to processes that had positive results, this earned me a small amount of trust. With that trust I found that I had a little bit more freedom and confidence to get involved in other areas of the business, helping out anyone I could where possible and always trying to improve things – I saw even more trust come my way, along with a little bit of respect.
From that point it was a snowball effect.
Be humble, be honest, work hard and you’ll get the trust, respect and confidence to step up a level. No matter how high you climb in an organization, always follow this cycle and you will do just fine.