A Career Path to Product Management Greatness!
It’s that time of year again when new grads are going through the interview process with prospective employers, trying to land their dream job. For the ones that are looking to become product managers, they often find it extremely hard to find a good entry-level product management job and even harder to land that job. However, they shouldn’t get discouraged because there’s more than one way to get into product management! Furthermore, starting off with an entry-level product management job is not the best route to take if you want to achieve product management greatness!
Looking back at my experiences and the experiences of some product managers I highly respect, I can confidently tell you that the best way to become a great product manager is to make sure you experience what it’s like to work in other parts of the business first. To become a great product manager you need to gain a deep and thorough understanding of each aspect of a business and the only way to do that is to walk a mile in the shoes of each part of the business.
Although this may sound like a difficult thing to do, it’s actually much easier than you think. What you’ll need to do is find a start-up that’s building something that interests you and take any job there (think developer, account rep., etc.). After you get comfortable with your primary job and are excelling at it (usually after about 6 months), take on extra responsibilities that fall outside of the normal scope of your job and set the table for a move to a completely new role (usually after about 12 months, but could be earlier if an opportunity presents itself); examples of such a shift could be from engineering to services, services to sales, etc.. The great thing about start-ups are that diagonal shifts within an organization are relatively easy and happen pretty regularly.
If you repeat this process a couple more times to gain more experience (could all be within one organization or spread across multiple organizations), you’ll be in a tremendous position to become great product manager!