My professional background has been mired in technology since I was 19 years old. The conventional thinking back then was that technology was taking off, and with the advent of the Internet, it’s a field where you just can’t go wrong!
It’s been well know since those days that technology was something that would always be around and in high demand. This has been said for years and for the most part–proven to be true.
My parents affectionately coffered up the idea that it was necessary that my major in college be somewhere in the field of Technology. So I majored in Computer Science for two semesters before joining the U.S. Navy, and joined the NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) chapter where I was attending college at Illinois State University. Both my mother and my father were college educated and always wanted me to keep moving forward. I have since progressed to go on to get an MBA and I am currently working on my Doctorate at Walden University.
They always pushed me to grow, be better, and take advantage of opportunities so that I could always do better than them.
Today, and over the past 15 years, I’ve been successful in cementing a career as a Project Manager in Information Technology, or (IT). I took this path because when you work with IT recruiters as often as I do you always know where the market and the industry of IT is headed in terms of growth. The Project Management field has been a burgeoning field for over the past two decades and a field where there typically isn’t a shortage of jobs for those with experience.
IT calls for someone who understands technology implementation as it aligns to organizational goals to streamline operations, deliver products and services, and enable organizations to perform better. It also calls for an understanding of how to empower employees and clients through successful project implementation, as well as driving bottom-line sales growth and revenue. Companies in this competitive and global economy have a need now, more than ever, to stay competitive so a Project Management background is highly desirable.
To do this, most if not all organizations employ the latest enterprise technologies that fall into these very broad and high-level general categories:
1) Software Application Support and Development
2) Enterprise Server
3) Database Technology
4) Networking Technology
5) Storage Technology
At the core of every major corporation exists these core technology areas that vary in scope, size, and complexity. Because all of these areas overlap with different technical implications it’s necessary to have someone that can successfully pull together a project that requires the use of all of these areas. So what this means is that, a particular project may require that a company needs to streamline it’s infrastructure by consolidating certain applications and databases. This will probably require the coordination of subject matter experts (SME’s) from many different areas, with many different levels of responsibility. The IT Project Manager will essentially be the focal point for coordination and successful implementation of this effort. You will have to plan, coordinate, implement, and guide and control all aspects of the project from start to finish. You will also be responsible for reporting and documentation, budgeting, and quite possibly procuring and tracking equipment and materials that are required for the project.
The job of a project manager is a very complex and work-intensive career field that not only requires technical expertise, but also Project Management expertise and methodology. The Project Management Institute (PMI) has developed the PMBok which is the de-facto standard of how projects should be run. This book contains the industry standard for guiding any project, regardless of the field, and was based off of a methodology that was developed at NASA for the U.S. Government.
A career path is a person’s progress along their journey through career development. Every person starts at one level in his or her job and gradually progresses into higher levels, depending on education, experience, and skillset. A career path serves as a plan for someone’s future, but the future doesn’t always pan out as planned. So to be successful in IT Project Management you need to find a way to get your foot in the door and gain the necessary experience that most employers are looking for.
You can read this article where I discuss more on the topic:
Due to the fact that all industries have projects and need project managers to coordinate them, it’s fair to say that the number of jobs out in the Marketplace will most likely never meet demand. Whether it’s construction, software development, or healthcare, they all need leaders to manage their teams, estimate and budget, and make sure that everything gets completed on time and within budget.
If you are a skilled in a specific industry, you have the opportunity to move easily into a PM role, by merely working towards certification and applying that knowledge on the job. For example, after certified PM training, a software developer can become an IT project manager due to his or her technical expertise once you’ve added the certification
Projects also range in size, complexity and specialty, giving Project Managers of different backgrounds and experience ample opportunities to utilize their skills and add value to their organization. Your skills are also transferrable from one industry to the next. Project managers have responsibilities such as cost estimation, planning, communication and other skills that are applicable to different industries. Such skills are often transferrable, making switching jobs and fields easier for those who want to explore other opportunities.
If you want to switch from construction to software, you can easily apply your leadership and management skills to your new position. When you couple that with your experience in a respective fields, employers will jump at the opportunity to hire you!
What I’ve Learned
IT Project Management requires a very intrinsic understand of how different technologies fit with each other. It also requires you to know how to manage and plan activities that allow for the most efficient and cost effective implementation of any project. You don’t need to know everything and be an expert, as most Project Managers are not technical experts, but you need to be intuitive enough to know what decisions to make, and when. Also consider that you take your skillset anywhere, and you don’t need to stick with one industry. Remember that your project management skills are transferable, so if your industry ever becomes obsolete, or you feel bored at your job, you can always switch to something else.
Having an open mind and the ability to take on the unknown gives you greater opportunities.