Understanding your role as a project manager can be confusing when you’re starting out – you need to build strong relationships, get to grips with terminology and it can be an overwhelming experience. Getting qualified and certified is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge so if you’re thinking about a career in project management, here are some tips from new and aspiring project professionals to help you stay afloat and pass your exams:
Get to know the theory
“You can have all the hands-on project management experience in the world but if you don’t understand the theory or reasons behind the decisions you make on projects, how do you know you’re doing it right? Taking the APM Project Management Qualification highlighted to me that if you can, you should learn the theory behind project management before you get established in your career and start sharing your bad project management habits with others, something we see too often in this industry.” Megan Heather-Cooley PhD, project manager.
Revise, read, research
There are lots of different project topics to cover in the exams so “build a bank of flash adds ahead of your exam, split by the module or class it relates to” say Scott Fraser, a trainee project manager. He found this a great way to revise: “It ensured I appropriated the right amount of time to each module in time for the examination.” Keep up with the terminology and topics so you can demonstrate your understanding of project management. Reading project related articles, books and news, or listening to project management podcasts can help get you in the right frame of mind.
Build a network and get connected
Sophia Pym a project management graduate recommends “utilising your networks (through LinkedIn, your work colleagues etc) to continue to learn from other successful project professionals. The key for future qualification takers is to utilise resources available, dedication and motivation and making sure you are prepared for the challenge.” As a student member of APM you can connect with fellow project managers on the APM Hub, ask questions in the forum for seasoned project professionals to answer and access exclusive content from project influencers.
Make the most of what’s available
Sophia Pym project management graduate, encourages candidates to “use all resources available, not just focussing on the 20|20 modules. Make the most of the opportunities presented by APM. Becoming an associate member was a great way of preparing myself for my qualification by making the most of the extra learning and modules APM offer.” Associate members get access to APM Learning where there are lots of interactive modules to help you prepare.
Think back to your experiences
If you’ve had experience in a project environment, then make the most of that by relating it to topics in the upcoming exams. Halle Stewart, project manager says “having tangible examples for each learning outcome helps. If you’re in the exam and having a mind blank thinking to that time on a project will help jog memories. I also found prioritising certain areas when revising helped, for example I had been doing a lot on procurement in my day job before the exam, so I found working on that and nailing the content gave me a boost before diving into the meatier topics that I didn’t know so well.”
Starting out as a project professional doesn’t have to be a lonely or scary – there are a wealth of resources available for you to explore and prepare for your career in project management. It’s vital to ensure your skills continually improve and your insight into the world of project management grows.
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