My QuestionI was wondering if you think it would be wise for me to pursue an Associate Product Management role immediately. I know that my background is not in product so it may be difficult, but I think I have enough general knowledge of building products and product management through my past experiences. I can include my resume which will go into more detail about my product experience
BackgroundHey Ala! Thanks again for taking the time to help me out. For a little context about me and my current state, right now I work as a software developer at a small boutique consulting firm where I develop software for the movie studios.
I am currently considering a job transition because my ultimate end goal in the next 4 years is to get accepted business school and I don't feel that I am learning enough new things currently to justify staying here.Additionally, I don't love software development (I never have), but I know that in order to be a good product manager or run a business (the eventual end goal), it is important to have technical knowledge.
I have always known that I have wanted to do product management, and was simply waiting to have some software experience before I joined a product role. With that being said, I have the following questions that I would love to hear from you regarding! Ideally, I would love to start in a product role as soon as possible.
However, I want to be cautious and make sure that I don't too quickly jump into a role at a company that will not be helping me in the long term. I think that it makes the most sense to work at a very established, reputable company as my next company as I believe the name and credibility will be very helpful for me in the future (in terms of my application, and steps after that).I was wondering if you think it would be wise for me to pursue an Associate Product Management role immediately.
I know that my background is not in product so it may be difficult, but I think I have enough general knowledge of building products and product management through my past experiences. I can include my resume which will go into more detail about my product experience
If this is your goal, then the short answer is yes. Start working in product and on product as soon as you can. Thinking and ideating about product as a hobby or as an afterthought is likely less than a 20% investment out of your day, while getting a job in product will all lead you to spend over 80% of your time thinking about product and engaging in what it means to do product management. This is important for two reasons: establishing the right optics and, secondly, developing the skill set.
When you apply to any company, large or small, they look at your resume and ask themselves why they should hire this person versus someone else that already has product management expertise. This is the question you need to answer and there are multiple ways to answer.
In the ideal case, you want to demonstrate that you are a product-oriented person and have been your entire life, it’s what you enjoy, you just haven’t been presented the right opportunity. For that to come across, you need to speak the language, you need to know every trick in the book, and you need to present yourself as someone with relevant experience that is useful in product management.
Depending on the level at which you join the company you must be able to demonstrate that you know what you’re doing. That means understanding what people want, how you prioritize your work, not only with stakeholders, customers, and management but also how you balance the business’s needs to customer needs and your team’s needs, Product 101. How do you determine if a metric is on track? How would you approach the problem and how you structure a solution in a manner that can be communicated to your peers.
Obviously, the more skilled you are, the easier the interview. If you are less skilled, leverage your engineering skills to find a side-project. For example, find a product manager that is looking for a software engineer, but is willing to mentor you while you provide value with your software development skills. This will result in better outcomes in future interviews because of the knowledge and stories you have gained through one or more of these side projects.