In college I wanted to be an international lawyer. In my first year I took Russian studies and a slew of foreign languages including French, Spanish, Russian, and Hungarian (because that would obviously set me up to do anything and be an easy language combination to learn). Not surprisingly, my first year was not a stellar performance for me outside of my English classes that I aced. Clearly seeing the writing on the wall, I ditched my plans of international intrigue and challenge and focused on English. Little did I realize that an English degree prepares you to do very little but wait tables although it is a field that has been applicable to every job I’ve had.
Luckily for me, as I wound my way through every job imaginable at a start-up company, I stumbled across project management. Here was a job that allowed me to use my communication skills (thank you English major!) and natural tendency to want to control everything and boss people around. My first forays into project management were around software product development but I quickly learned that project management is the most versatile job in the world.
As a project manager I did the following:
- Managed software development
- Managed the creation of online classes for universities
- Managed consulting engagements for clients
- Managed the development of corporate training and delivery
- Managed the build-out of PMOs
- Managed programs that integrated two companies (culture, hardware, software, process, etc.)
- Planned relocation of my family
- Planned a PMI annual event for 300 people
- Planned my wedding, birthday parties, and major personal events
There is (as you know by now from my other posts) little that I don’t apply my project management skills to in life. Having a somewhat formal project management approach to things like party planning helps my type-A tendencies to know that all décor and food will be perfect and done on time for the party. Using the people skills I learned by managing large teams with diverse populations (both distance and culturally) allows me to better handle my children and parent’s meetings (PTA type meetings can get strangely intense and political). The skills and abilities I now have enable me to confidently move from one vertical to another (I’ve gone from IT, to higher education, to insurance, and now to corporate training) knowing that I will succeed.
As I look to the future I know that I could choose to transition to another company, another challenge, and employ the same skills I honed through the years. If I knew then what I know now, I would have started with project management in college rather than stumbled into it later. What other job is there that allows you to work at any company, in any field, and be successful? How else can you jump from planning a major software development project to planning a retirement party and leverage the same skills and abilities? Project management is clearly one of, if not THE most flexible career paths available today.
Project Management Training