Is Project Management the Right Career For You?

Copyright 2015 Dollar Photo Club by AniriAnA
Copyright 2015 Dollar Photo Club by AniriAnA

If I had picked up a crystal ball, spun it around and then peered deep into its depths, I would never have imagined that I would have ended up as a Project Manager.

Through a set of coincidences that I don’t think could be repeated, I was offered the opportunity to project manage a small project and that morphed into a move into project management as a Career.  I think most project managers backgrounds are similar.  I’ve heard the word, ‘accidental’ used a lot in relationship to becoming a PM.

Copyright 2015 Dollar Photo Club by crazymedia
Copyright 2015 Dollar Photo Club by crazymedia

If you are a recent graduate that is considering entering the field, you may be asking: Is this career right for me?   I can’t look into the crystal ball and answer that question for you either.

What I can do is ask you a  couple of questions that might help clarify what you’d be headed into.

The only thing I ask is that you be honest with yourself.  Are you ready?

Question 1:

Do you think that following the PMBOK is all that you need to be a good project manager?  If you think that devotedly following each step in the PMBOK will result in a successful project then you may be headed in the wrong direction.  Each project, each team is different.  There are times it might be wiser to use the PMBOK as the standard it is meant to be, but follow the spirit of the standard.  Not the letter.  Can you be flexible and work with the constraints of the project and the needs of the team?

Question 2: 
Do you think you need to be an expert in the Subject Matter or are you comfortable knowing absolutely nothing at all?

This is actually a bit of a trick question.  If you are expert – it may be helpful, but you may have a tendency to be overly involved in questions your technical lead needs to drive.  If you know nothing at all, you may be led down the garden path unless you know to ask more questions about vague answers.  What is important is know when to facilitate the conversation and when to push for a decision?  And are you comfortable with either role when needed to allow the team to move forward?

Question 3:
Are you easily upset when “your project plan” crashes and burns or is dramatically impacted by a change in requirements?

Change happens on every project.  Depending on the environment, Industry or methodology , it may happen far more frequently than most ‘Makers’ of standard waterfall plans assume.  Now more than ever, you need to be open to change. Change to the plan, the resources, and/ or the scope have all happened on my projects in the last few years.  Change happens – can you be open enough to it to respond constructively?

Copyright 2015 Dollar Photo Club by ra2 studio
Copyright 2015 Dollar Photo Club by ra2 studio
So what do you think?  Do you think project management may still be the right career for you?  Experienced PMs: Are there other questions that a potential PM should ask herself?  Leave a comment or send a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.
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