Transition to a Product Role with ZERO experience — Part 3
You have now set yourself up for something great. You have set up your portfolio, hustling with some side projects to give you experience and provide value. The last stop is the “Job Offer” itself. Part-3 will be the last of the mini-series to transition to a product role. Here, I will share tips on, what’s next and how to choose roles keeping your interests in mind.
Here you are, steering yourself to get that first official role. Let me tell you that this is not the last stop. Everyone’s journey is unique and these are just some things I learned along the way. Possibly you already have something or you’re on your way to start getting interviews.
Once, I had created some value around myself doing side projects, showing passion and motivation for product management, I first reached out to my community Co-organizers of different ProductTanks around the world, asking for some much-needed advice on how should I crack getting my first role. The straight answer was to APPLY! Apply to a role, a product, a problem space you’re passionate about and find exciting.
Think about the following when you do come across Job Descriptions when applying to a Junior/ Associate PM role
- The Problem Space — is it something that excites you?
- The Product — how can you create value for your customers? How is the product perceived in the present time?
- The Team — How is the culture at this organization? Open to new ideas, experimentation? Learning culture, mission, and vision that speaks to you?
- Product Leaders — Are the Product people in this organization open to form a mentor-mentee relationship? How can you up-skill yourself and move up your career, speak with them, get to know them?
Thinking about all this, I still brainstormed on what are the possible ways for me to get into product management
- Internal Transition if you are working in a medium-size/ large company
- Finding a Junior/ Associate PM role in other companies
- Joining a startup — start from scratch
- Starting your own Product. There are many problems out there, start small, see how it goes.
Since I am currently working in an Enterprise, I tried to switch roles inside the organization. I kept looking for positions that I knew I would find exciting. I had already been in the Application Performance Management (APM) space for a couple of years, and I knew I could provide value, work on the problems I am passionate about, and also learn from product leaders and competitors in this B2B space.
Whilst the search was going, it’s also good to have options. Due to this, I applied to a couple of roles, in startups whose product, problem space, really excited me. I was able to ask myself questions hypothetically, if I was a PM at this XYZ company, what current problems I would be working on, what would be my learning curve. My experience from working in startups is, that it gives you experience in all realms. Total transparency, communication, and coverage when working as a PM. At least that was my experience since I starting working in a startup right after my university.
Over the interviews, you start to get a feel for the role. What expectations are they setting, what you will bring to the team.
That being said, the idea here is to widen your search, see what things work for you and what things do not. Each path you choose to product management has its “advantages” and “disadvantages”. Internal transition can be challenging and might be difficult to find at times. Starting in a startup can upskill you and turn you into a great product manager, or on the other side, may cause you stress since it’s a challenging path.
There is no secret sauce out there that can get you to a PM role. But there are plenty of resources, people, content out there to help steer into the right direction. I always was a fan of success stories. That motivated me every time I read someone successfully landed a dream product management role. It was interesting to see what educational background these people were coming from, what they did to create value and their side hustle projects.
Your path is unique. If you have spent time and really passionate about product management, the right opportunity will come your way. Just to provide a word of confidence, I interviewed 11 times in the final round for multiple PM roles, but after consecutive rejections one after the other, I got 4 offers in a space of a month. I hope this mini-series provides you some value and helps you steer into product management.
Till then, take care and happy learning! :)