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I hope to find guidance on how to begin a career in Project Management and what I need to do in order to get started. I recently graduated from college with 2 years of theoretical experience with Project Management. I say theoretical because my experience is due to two consecutive Capstones that took place while I was still in college.

During each individual Capstone I worked under many titles such as Business Analyst, Information Specialist and finally Project Manager. I did this for two community Organizations so the stakeholders, scope, budget and deliverables to them were very real.

Do I have enough experience to seek a Project Management position now that I have graduated and have my degree, or should I be focusing on a PMP certification?

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TL;DR

Entry-level positions are often a numbers game, where the goals are to find a role where your background fits the immediate needs of the employer and where your resume and interviewing skills show that you can quickly learn the on-the-job skills needed to grow as a professional. There is no perfect formula for being an ideal candidate, and certification may or may not help you land any given job.

My Guidance Counselor Hat

Wearing my guidance counselor hat, the only practical answer to a question like yours is to shop your resume around and see if employers are interested in your current background. Some will be, and some won't, and most won't provide you any useful feedback at all.

Politely Solicit Feedback

If you do receive any feedback, don't debate the merits of your background with the employers. Simply acknowledge the feedback, and consider whether it has merit for you to add the additional skills, training, or other background material to your reservoir of experience before continuing to shop around for a job.

Seek Junior or Entry-Level Roles

If you lack experience, confidence, or both, then you should seek out entry-level or junior-level roles. Some jobs actively seek junior-level candidates who will cost less, but are able to master the role quickly while working under the supervision (and occasionally the useful guidance) of a more senior practitioner.

Such roles exist in all job fields, and project management is no exception. Deliberately seek out such roles until you are able to successfully compete for whatever your ideal role might be in the future.

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What is a project manager position? What do you envision you would be doing as a new graduate with PM title? Would you be overseeing a $500M construction project, a $100M IT systems implementation, a $40M new product development?

Projects are a function of work first. There is a huge range of projects running from a $1,000 3-person landscaping job to a multimillion new spacecraft job. So wanting to be a PM is very ambiguous.

While project management is becoming a career of and in itself, most who end up doing this for a career starting as something else first, where they end up managing various projects mostly within their industry and domain. While there are a few who believe they can jump from industry to industry and manage complex projects successfully, and maybe there is some anecdotal evidence to show this, you do not see it very often in practice. And I think those who do end up in a more project controls type role.

I'd suggest you not look for PM roles and instead look for entry-level roles within an industry to which you are attracted. Build your skills and knowledge in industry. Leading and managing operations and projects will come later.

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