One of my greatest wishes is that more people discuss project management as a career option – when I was at school and stuck in dreaded careers lessons, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be. Liking English and history pushed me towards journalism or teaching or the law, but whilst I didn’t know much, I knew those weren’t right for me.
I ended up working in administration, customer service and then event management for a training company. I was never quite sure what I wanted to do in my career, and then my manager suggested I go on a PRINCE2 training course. Without wanting to sound too geeky, once I started the qualification, I realised I finally found a role that made sense to me. The structure that PRINCE2 brought to what was seen by a lot of my colleagues as ‘just being well organised’ was such a relief.
From that point, I felt as though I finally had an answer to that old question ‘what do you want to be?’
‘A project manager.’
However, as much as PRINCE2 was a great entry-point for me, it became really difficult to put what I’d learned into practice. As a methodology, it works best when you are in an organisation that’s run along PRINCE2 principles – I, most definitely, was not. It certainly helped me to impose some structure on my work, but I started looking for more.
That’s when I came across the APM qualifications. This was back in 2013 so I sat the older version of the Project Management Qualification. It felt, again, like a new option was opening up to me, as I realised how much broader and deeper project management could be. If PRINCE2 had helped me figure out that I wanted to be a project manager – and really what project management actually was – then the APM qualification helped me think about how I could be a project manager in practice. It also led me to becoming a member of APM, another step along the way to making project management my profession.
After achieving the APM qualification, I was then approached to interview for another job as a project manager, where I was ultimately successful. I’m certain that having two project management qualifications helped incredibly when it came to getting this job, as not only were PRINCE2 and APM assets on my CV, they also gave me a huge amount of confidence. I didn’t have as much experience as other applicants in terms of years, but I demonstrated my skills and knowledge as a project manager through the qualifications. I relied on what I’d learned for the exam during the interview. When it came to actually starting the job – possibly the biggest career leap I’ve taken – I had the PRINCE 2 manual and APM Body of Knowledge to support me.
Overall, the qualifications have paid for themselves many times over because of how they’ve helped me to develop in my career. In particular, they’ve helped me to:
- Identify my career path: Finding out that managing projects is a career option, was the greatest thing to happen. Taking the qualifications helped me understand what I truly wanted to do – since that first project management qualification and course I haven’t looked back.
- Build credibility: Having project management qualifications means other people take me seriously as a project manager, especially when I’ve been in companies and industries that aren’t as familiar with the field of project management.
- Approach new challenges: Studying and preparing for the qualifications and exams has given me self-assurance, practical help and support when applying for a new job through to being successful at interview, and then actually starting at a new organisation.
- Develop transferable skills: The knowledge and confidence I gained from sitting the qualifications meant I was able to demonstrate transferable skills by applying them in a variety of industries and sectors.
- Show competence and commitment: Project management qualifications have been an asset on my CV, demonstrating not only my competence, but that I have a commitment to project management as my career.
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