I would like to share one of the most challenging experiences I have had in the past 15 years of my career. After completing my engineering degree in Electrical and Electronic communication, I joined as a software engineer in a Multinational IT company. I was performing coding and unit testing to support an Order management system. Two years later, I was promoted as a Senior Software Engineer. This time my role was the same except taking more complex tasks and helping junior programmers. A few years down the road, I became a team leader for the same team. As a lead, my task responsibility and complexity increased. My primary task was to guide the team to complete the assigned tasks in the given time frame in addition to overseeing coding and testing for a few projects. My consistent performance paved the way for achieving my next level and I was promoted to an Assistant Project Manager within a span of two years. Going down the promotion way, a year later I was a project manager.
With my role as a Project Manager, I had to take care of all projects for a particular team, and perform other duties (including administration, hiring, guiding the team etc) as needed. Due to a company merger, my position was eliminated. Even though it was sad to leave my employer, I felt it was positive for my career, and used the opportunity to advance in the industry. It took me 3 months to find a Project Manager position in a Federal consulting company.
I was happy to join the Federal Consulting company because that was one of the best consulting companies in the U.S. In that company, the first day was dedicated for orientation. Six of us (4 managers and two business analysts) oriented about the company and company policies. I met my immediate supervisor in the evening. He introduced me to his colleagues and teams. On the second day I was involved with software installation and spend quite a bit of time to go through organization policies. In the evening my boss took me to his office and entrusted me with a couple of assignments. One was to prepare a Procurement document for one of our clients to install "Event Management Information System" to manage crises situation. The other was to prepare a Risk Management Plan for an internal project. He assigned a team of business analysts, and gave me a deadline to complete the tasks. I was shocked because I did not know anything about Procurement planning and Risk Management plan as we never developed such documents in my previous employment. To cut the long story short, I struggled a lot. With help from my colleagues I was able to produce the deliverables, and met the deadlines. The lesson learnt for me was: whatever I managed in my previous job was managing operations and not managing projects; I had to have comprehensive project management skills and knowledge and realized the importance of formal project management training to succeed in my career.
Formal education is a structured education system which provides the training and skills required to perform a particular task in an organized way. It is a powerful weapon which you can use to gain knowledge in any field. This is applicable for people who wanted to get into Project Management field also. Though the Project Management terminology or specific implementation will change from company to company, once you know the basics by formal education, you can build on that knowledge and adapt to any system that your company uses. This will help you improve your skills and provide you excellent material for your next job interview, should you apply for a new position using your experience as a project manager. Having a strong understanding of project management fundamentals will help you no matter what job or industry you end up working in and you'll find that, project management fundamentals you learn through formal training would help your mission to get a good managerial job with a nice remuneration. It will improve everything you do—even a project at home or in the community.
Several Universities and companies around the globe are offering Project Management courses. Most of the Project Management Courses cover: (1) Project Management Processes(Initiation, planning, execution, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing), (2) Project Management Knowledge areas(scope management, time management, cost management, quality management, human resource management, communication management, risk management, contract/procurement management, integration management) and (3) Project Management Institute- Code of Professional Conduct.
Let us go back to my situation. How did I address the challenge? I joined in a PMP Prep course to learn Project Management. What I gained in benefits is multifold. That helped me to acquire the right skills and knowledge required to manage projects in any environment. It helped me to prepare for the PMP exam, and I used the course completion certificate for the exam PDU. The certificate provided by most of the institutions can be used as the eligibility criteria to write the PMP exam. There are many institutions offering PMP Prep courses. I would suggest you to join a course which is convenient for you to put your career on track. Good Luck!
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