Project Management: Getting a PM Job (With no Experience)

– So you've decided you want
your first project manager job and you're trying to figure
out how do you break in. It's a bit of a catch-22. Every job description you see says you have to have experience. But how you can get experience
if you can't get a job? So in this video we're
gonna talk about two ways that you can break into the
project management industry. Stay tuned and I will give you the advice that I've been giving people
for a little over 10 years now to help them land their
first project management job. (lively music) Okay, in our last video we talked a little bit about classes and degrees and what you should be looking for when you're just getting
started out in your career. To continue with our theme for this month, which is getting your first
project management job, we're gonna talk today about how do you break in if you don't have any experience? I'm gonna share with you my story about how I got started
because I feel like it might be helpful for you to hear how I made a career
change and got into this, oh, so many years ago.

But before we do that,
a little announcement. At the end of the last video I told all of you that I was opening up the doors to a pilot for a new class that I'm putting together. Over the last 15 years I've
been training project managers, and there's some very simple basic things that I noticed that project
managers struggle with as they are first getting started out. In fact, I find that even
experienced project managers are struggling with some of the basics. So I'm putting together, I used to give a classroom training for project managers. It was often a three-day course. Sometimes I would compress it down and we'd go through everything, from how to assemble the team, how to establish yourself as a leader, how to get the project
scope fully fleshed out with a work breakdown structure, how to put together a full network diagram so that you actually have
an awesome analysis tool to help you manage your
project as you go forward.

How to get everything
into Microsoft Project, how to resource level, how to make sure that you're getting the right updates from people, how to have killer project status meetings that aren't the same old
typical boring thing. And in the end, how to
become a most valuable player in your company by doing
all of these things that most project managers struggle with. I gave this course for many years and it was very well received, but I always did it in person.

I do love giving it in person, but the beauty of the internet is is that I have an opportunity if I can package it right
to impact more people. So I'm putting together
all of my curriculum in a format that I can
deliver to people online. And I have my project plan for this. I'm aiming for June 1 for
it to be ready for a pilot. When it's finally released, I think I'll probably charge somewhere in the neighborhood of
$250 in tuition to join. It's looking like it's
gonna be 17 or 18 videos with templates and a bunch
of other really great stuff.

But before I release it to
the masses, I have to test it. So I'm gonna open up on
June 1 an opportunity for people to join in a pilot. If you're interested, I'm gonna put a card in the upper right-hand corner that you can click on to join. It basically adds your name to
the wait list for the pilot. And for those of you who
would like to join the pilot, if you're on the list then you can join when I finally open it up for only $5.

It's a token amount. Actually, I'm just trying to test all the systems on the
backend for financials, but I'm also trying to weed out people who are just not even
gonna take it seriously. I actually want people to take the course, tell me what they think, give me feedback, even give me a little testimonial if it really made a big
difference for them, and I know that it will 'cause it has, it's made a huge difference
for a lotta people. So if you're interested in the pilot and you wanna join for only five bucks, and you're serious about
going through the material, giving me feedback, please click the card in the upper right-hand corner, get your name on that list. I'm gonna shut down the
list on May the 18th. So if you're not on by that time then you're no longer eligible
to join the pilot group. So get out there right away, as soon as you're done with this video, and join that list if you're interested.

Okay, so let's talk
about how do you break in to a project management career. I think there's two
ways, really, to get in. And in both scenarios you're gonna have to do something you might not wanna do and that is to take a step down to take a step up. A lotta people will be in a career, whether it be technology, or marketing, or what have you, and they'll think to themselves, you know what, I wanna make a change. I wanna change over to project manager. And they may be making a
certain amount of salary 'cause they've been doing that job for a certain period of time, but you're now gonna do something new. You're gonna try and build
a project management career. And so given the fact that you don't have a lot of experience, you have to expect that you're gonna need to start in some entry level positions. There are two ways that I
see that you can do this, and both of them have their own unique pluses and minuses to them.

The first way is to find
a very small company and to join that company as
a junior project manager, or as their project manager. I'm talking companies
around 20, 30, 40 people. You know, they may have
within their organization people who wear many different hats because they're small, but usually they're small, but mighty, and they're filled with
really awesome people who are really trying to make a difference and who are building
something cool and exciting. And so those environments come with a lotta really, an interesting dynamic, and you actually can
get a lot of experience in a lotta different areas. You also get exposure to
everyone within the company, so it's not like the larger companies where you may never get to interact with some of the more senior people.

Chances are you're in a company that's 40 or 30 people strong, you're gonna be interacting directly with the president and the CEO on quite a regular basis. A second way that you can get your start in a project management career is to look at larger companies, and I'm talking companies with
10s of thousands of people. Companies in the finance industry. Insurance companies. Companies that have large project management offices, or PMOs. Those companies will have
many different job positions in the project management field, and they'll have a lot of what I call entry level positions for what we, the entry level job position is either called a project administrator, project analyst, project control officer.

And there's a few other names that these organizations give
this entry level position. The position typically
pays, in North America, if you're in a major metropolitan area, somewhere between $40,000 to $60,000. And you can find these positions on offer for a little less
and a little more than that, but generally between $40,000 and $60,000. If that's something that you can handle, if you can handle moving into
a job that pays at that rate, then you can make the
transition really quite easily. So before we talk about the pros and cons of way A, which is to find a small company and join that company
as a project manager, and way B, which is to
find a large company and get in as an entry
level PA, let's talk about, I wanna tell you a little
bit about how I got started.

My career took a very
long and winding path. I already told you a little
bit about my education. And right after that I did a lot of the jobs you might expect a person to do when they first leave university. I was a security guard. I worked at a retail, I worked at Radio Shack
for a number of years. I worked at fast food places, pet stores. Often I would do two
and three jobs at once because they were all part-time gigs. I did a lotta work and then
I started to get into sales.

And I found a job one day where there was a small computer company, it was a computer reseller. They were looking for a sales person and I said, well, I
probably can sell something. Let me give it a try. As it turns out, I was
actually pretty good at sales, which was very strange
because I started out as a very shy individual
who didn't like to talk and didn't like to do public speaking. But you know what? I broke out of my shell. I figured I need to do this. I need to find something
that will make more money than the average minimum wage job. So I started selling. And it started working very well for me. And then I got into computer distribution. I worked for Merisel, which is a computer distributor
that no longer exists, and I sold for them.

And I did that for a while
until around the dot-com crash. And when the dot-com crash happened, a lot of the people who were buying the computers and all the wonderful stuff, little buy dot-coms
and all the other stuff that doesn't exist anymore, they stopped ordering, obviously, and like hundreds, if not thousands, of technology sales people just like me were laid off or let go, and we all hit the street looking for jobs in a market that just wasn't buying.

So I wondered what the hell
I was gonna do with myself. And I was actually making a really great living as a sales person, but I had no idea what I was gonna do. So I ended up working for a temp agency. And I was back to sort
of the remedial jobs and I was filling in for secretaries on switchboards while
they were on vacation. I even worked at a HoneyBaked Ham store in Newport Beach, handing
out HoneyBaked ham to people on Easter. I really felt like I
had crashed and burned, and I wondered what the hell
I was gonna do with myself.

pexels photo 4050312

And I got a temporary
job in a small company. It was about 40 people. And it was a small mortgage banking firm. And their receptionist
was away on vacation and they needed somebody to answer the telephones for a couple of weeks. And when I arrived, I knew that I wanted to make a career change. And when I arrived and I looked around and people seemed pleasant, they seemed happy to be at
work, it was a nice environment. And you know what? I was just happy to be
working in a nice environment. And I decided I wanted to stay. And I looked around and
there were computers, and there were servers,
but there was no IT guy. Now, I had no experience in IT, but I decided right then I was going to be their IT guy. Don't know how or why, or why I thought this was even possible, but I decided that this
is what I was gonna do.

And I remember as people
came through the door and they first saw my face, you know, I wasn't the regular
person at the front desk, they would say, hi, I would say, hi, and I remember one person coming by, she introduced herself
and I stuck my hand out and said, "Hey, I'm Jason Dodd. "Really nice to meet you." Turned out to be the vice
president of the company. And Debbie, if you're watching, I love you 'cause you gave me an excellent start to my second career. She said she decided in that moment that she just liked me. And when that assignment ended, they brought me back to stuff envelopes. Their marketing department
was putting out a campaign and they needed an envelope stuffer. And again, because I decided, that I had this crazy, wild idea that I was gonna be their IT guy, I was gonna be the best damn
envelope stuffer they ever had. And then they brought
me in to do data entry and a few other things,
but I stuck with it and eventually they
brought me in full time.

And because it was a small company, I pretty much was able to
make whatever career I wanted. As it turned out, the
president of the company had a friend who lived very far away, a couple of states away, actually, and he came occasionally in to maintain the servers and the desktops. And that individual took
me under their wing, taught me everything that I needed to know to be an awesome systems
and network administrator. As the company grew,
because I was their IT guy, I started to hire staff
and I built a team. We opened up, I think, around 12 offices across the United States. I flew out to all these different states and implemented the
infrastructure and the VPN and all this other stuff.

It was an awesome time. And during this time I
started to manage projects. Any time the company had to do something, and it didn't have to be IT, I would end up being the guy. I would be the guy who
had managed the projects. So I was able to create whatever career I wanted in these small companies. All you need is the desire
and the willingness to learn. And so I believe wholeheartedly that if you're in the
same position that I was, and you wanna make a career change, why not go the small company route? Get into one of these
smaller organizations. Sometimes they're scrappy
and they're just trying to make a name for themselves, and if you believe in them,
they'll believe in you. And you can pretty much create whatever career you want
in a company like that, but you have to be willing
to do whatever it takes.

I went from making a six figure salary as a sales person to answering
phones at the front desk. But I made something out
of that situation, right? You know what they say,
when life gives you lemons. And you can do the same thing too. There are a lot of smaller
companies out there that are trying to build up their teams. They can't afford to hire the high-powered six figure project manager to help them open offices or build their
next piece of software. And you might just be the
right person for them. So go looking for those
organizations and try to get in. And an easier way, another really good way to get into those small companies
is through temp agencies. And don't just look for
project management jobs. Explain to your recruiter
at the temp agency, I'm actually looking for a company that I can make myself important to. It's not about the actual job, so help me find the right
company to get myself into. And they can, right? Nobody ever thinks about that.

They never think to tell the recruiter, actually, I want you to find
me the right organization, as opposed to, no, I need you
to find me this specific job. So think of that as an option. It's the option that I took and it worked very well for me, got me a lot of varied
and different experience that I was able to bring forward, and then I was able to create
the career that I have today.

The cool thing about going option B and getting into a large organization is that you get to learn from a lot of really experienced people. So when you go route A,
you're kinda winging it. You're learning as you go. You're building the airplane as you fly and it can be very stressful. And you may spend a lotta time while you're doing that thinking, oh my god, I feel like an imposter. They're gonna figure out I don't know what the hell I'm doing. You know, if that doesn't
sound like fun to you, then maybe option B, which is going into the larger organization,
is the better choice. Because if you get into a large PMO in one of these entry level
positions as a PA or a PCO, you get to then work side by side with not one, but many different
project managers and PAs. You get to interact with
many different executives on various different projects, and you get really great experience and a lot of really great exposure. I really wish that I had the ability to work alongside other
senior project managers earlier in my career.

If I could have done that, oh my goodness, the things, the mistakes
that I could have avoided. It would have been awesome. So I see a lotta people start
in those entry level roles and they build awesome careers because they see it for what it is, an opportunity to work with
lots of different people. They take from those people
the things they like, they leave the things that they don't, and they build their own set of tools that they bring with
them into their career. So it is an awesome opportunity.

I recommend it for anyone. I've seen many people be
very successful that way. So there you have it. You've got those two options. You can get into the small
company and fight your way into and building the
career that you want. And it can be exciting, but
it can also be stressful. Or you can get in an entry level role at a larger organization and get exposed to a lotta really great people. And if you're open to
learning from these people, then you can see your career
take off very, very quickly. So that's my advice. If you're willing to take a step down and start at the bottom, so to speak, and work your way up, then you absolutely can do it. And by the way, in
neither of these scenarios do you need a PMP, right? A PMP designation requires
project management experience. On the small company side, you probably don't need even a CAPM, although it could be helpful.

The CAPM is a bit more of a prerequisite for those entry level positions in the larger organization, so I recommend you get one
if you wanna go that route. But even if you don't have
it when you get hired, often PMOs, if they really like you, and they think you'll be
a very valuable person to have on a project team, they'll bring you in and then they'll say, well, within in the next
year why don't you get it. In some of those larger corporations, they'll help fund the training for it, and they'll be very supportive for you to get the certification. So look into that, by the way, if you're interviewing with companies who are looking for entry level PAs. Just say, hey, I would
like to get my CAPM. Is there anything available to me to assist me in that endeavor? And oftentimes they'll say, yeah we got a program, don't
worry about it, right? So ask, don't forget to ask. So if you like this video, if it was useful to you, please interact with the video. Give me a thumbs up.

Give me a thumbs down, below. As project managers, we are
notoriously bad at social media. I don't know why it is, but we don't interact with things like the video, leave comments. If you don't do that, this
video will never rank, and other PMs will never find it. So please, if you think
it's valuable information, please leave me a comment below. I'll give you a question. Which of the two options, if you're just getting
started out in your career, which of the two options
are most appealing to you? Let me know.

Option A, small company,
option B, large company. Which one would you like to do? If you already have a career and you've made it this far in the video, then share with the other viewers. How did you get your start in your project management career? This is a really valuable
space for everybody. If we start to share, we'll be able to help each other out, which is what this video channel, what this YouTube channel is all about.

So leave your comments below. Give me a thumbs up or thumbs down, and we'll see you in the next video..

As found on YouTube

You May Also Like