Becoming a project manager in today’s workforce requires tenacity, patience, and discipline. It has been estimated that 20% of the workforce has the necessary requisites to become a project manager, and of those only 4% will ever actually step up to the challenge. The difference between the few that move up from common laborer to leader is nothing more than the willingness to take that first step. Whether an individual is determined to become a project manager within the near future or hoping to become one someday in the distant future, here are a few key things you can do to help prepare.
Volunteer: If someone isn’t being paid to be a project manager at this juncture in their life, then in order to get the necessary experience of being one that person should simply donate his or her time. If living in a reasonably populated area–or within proximity to one–then chances are there are a handful, if not dozens, of organizations who would love to have to help on the management side of things. Think: community centers, homeless shelters, little leagues, schools, camps, and other such non-profit groups.
The second thing one can do is talk to their boss about taking on some new unpaid responsibilities. If it’s not the right time to be asking for a raise, it’s still possible to set oneself up for a future promotion. All a person has to do is to tell their boss that they’re eager to get the most out of their position and they’d like to take on some new responsibilities and challenges, as sort of a free education course. Either the big guy will say yes, or he will say no. Either way, an impression will have been made.
The third tip–and perhaps the most ambitious–to gain project manager experience and skills, is for an individual to start their own project or even business. This of course requires plenty of weekend or evening hours, and though it will be a huge investment of time and possibly money, it is also likely to be extremely rewarding. Considering the wild frontier of the internet, anyone can be an entrepreneur these days. Or if one is not necessarily looking for an additional for-profit endeavor, other ideas may include starting a theater group, a community service initiative, a political club, or anything that involves leading teams of people and organizing activities. Good luck!