Product Management Certifications, my experience and is it worth your time?
I have had many people reach out to me asking about my experience from the Product Management Certifications I did from Product School and followed with Udacity. Here, I explain how these courses helped me to break into Product Management, but this is no secret sauce, it helps you to get started and one can start building on it.
I remember the days back in May 2018 when I first graduated from the University of Windsor, Canada. I had paid $60,000 and I had no clue what to do with my education. Fast forward, 3 years now, working as a Software Engineer, I am running a Product Community, have a couple of Associate/ Junior Product Manager freelance roles under my belt and now actively moving into Product Management. So how did I do this?
There is no secret sauce. I first asked myself the hard questions including if I even wanted to become a Product Manager, my mentors who I openly spoke to about this and advised me from their experiences and product anecdotes, my family, friends who believed in my passion to do something that is more than a job for me. There are many variables in my journey but definitely what helped me is the Product Management Certifications I did.
I first heard about Product School from a friend of mine in Toronto. Product School only focuses on providing a product management program. It consists of three different certificates that can be taken consecutively. Since I was new to Product Management at the time, I started with The Product Manager Certificate, which is considered a fundamental building block for those embarking on a PM career path. The course covers basics like assessing target opportunities, hypotheses, different frameworks for validating solutions for problems, building software products, and how to launch a great product. With the amount of money asked, this is what I can say
- Product School’s course instructors work at recognized product-led companies like Google, Spotify, and Netflix, so they have up-to-date information and hands-on experience working in product management. I had a pretty good instructor who made the course pretty interesting and gave examples from her product journey. The cohort was super active and engaging.
- They offer a great community to network with and share your enthusiasm for product management. They have the biggest slack community which you can join with regular online webinars, events, blogs, books, podcasts and more. The organization is a complete product management ecosystem and once enrolled you have lifetime access to these resources.
- The certification was completely online and over an 8 week period. In the end, you deliver a project and go through all the fundamentals of product management, from seeing what problem you want to solve, to delivering an MVP and having defined set KPI’s and outcomes. The feedback from my instructor and cohort was super helpful.
In the end, I came out with great learnings, a project to showcase as part of my portfolio, a great network that I had built and friends who became mentors to whom I can reach out during product events, interview preparation etc. Oh and the unlimited product resources for breaking into product management that is always available to me. Given the money I paid, the value is totally there. It is an investment in myself, that is paying off. ✅
With the Product School, I took already a big jump into product management. It helped me get my first freelance role as a Junior PM. Whilst working with clients and continuous learning and broadening mine in an ever-evolving product environment, I saw and dealt with so much data in these freelance. Data plays a big part in product management. I wrote a couple of articles on Data-Driven Product Management and wanted to take up a project/ role/ course that puts data at the center of making data-driven product decisions.
Udacity came into the picture then. I had seen a lot of people in my network doing “Nanodegrees” and I really wanted to do one. I spoke to a few people who had Nanodegrees in Product Management and the holy grail, there was one for Data Product Manager.
This course by far was the most challenging one that I have taken and I have done a handful of certifications of the tech side as well. I got lucky with the price. Due to the pandemic, the prices were reduced by more than 70% and ended up paying $300 CAD or around that for the course. For the money paid, the course delivered full value in leveraging market data to amplify product development. This is what I can say about the course
- Learnt about Data Products and how Data Science can be applied to Product Management. Not every team, is blessed with Data scientists and data analysts, hence as Product Manager’s it brings value to utilize this data to not only enhance existing products but create completely new ones.
- The Program takes 3 months with the delivery of quizzes and assignments including an iteration on the project being worked on. The platform provides mentors and internal networking opportunities with people doing the same course as you. The feedback provided at every submission is one of a kind I have seen. Super detailed and well-written feedback at every step
- The opportunity to enhance SQL skills and learn basic data manipulations using Tableau. Finally, you will learn techniques for evaluating the data from live products, including how to design and execute various A/B and multivariate tests to shape the next iteration of a product.
The project I worked on was super interesting and leveraged all the learnings on the way from, applying data science techniques, data engineering processes, and market experimentation tests to deliver customized product experiences to developing data pipelines and warehousing strategies that prepare data collected from a product for robust analysis. The course and the certification gave me so much in terms of learning, leveraging data and how pivotal it is for a PM. Full value certainly ✅
The courses you take ultimately depend on you. I usually ask questions to myself, research about the course, talk to people, have a phone call with these institutions who are offering these certifications and see how will I be able to implement the learnings from the certification to work on a new project, implement it in my role and add value to my product journey.
The certification will provide you with the building blocks in your early Product Management career. Especially for “newbies” these certifications can help you but there are also not the only way into Product Management. Different recipes are brewing for you to break into product management and you need to find the unique ingredients that fit best to you and your journey. Hope this helps you with the feedback you need if you’re looking to do courses from Product School and/or Udacity.