How I transitioned into Product Management in just 5 months without spending a penny!
My journey from being a Learning experience manager to an Associate product manager!
Generally, there are two kinds of people.
One: Those who have already figured out what they want to do and take the necessary steps to achieve it.
Let’s call them the Champs!
Two: Those who are mostly clueless and figure things out only post trying them!
Let’s call them the Experiencers.
I fall in the latter category!
I am a software engineer who never wanted to be one! Somehow, I ended up graduating. (God must know!)
Education and working with children were my calling! So, I ended up as a teacher for 4 significant years! (2 years: taught child laborers, 2 years: Teach For India fellowship)
Thus, post my fellowship, I decided to continue working in the education space. I worked with two ed-tech startups designing curricula and learning experiences for children to deliver quality education.
Why did I choose Product Management next?
After 6 years in the education space, I realized that my growth had stagnated, and I wanted to try something new. Something that was challenging enough and offered excellent learning opportunities.
Enters product management!
After a lot of thinking, writing, and reflecting, I identified problem-solving, communication, and designing as my must-haves in a role. Post an extended filtration, PM seemed the most suitable role as it ticked the most boxes in my requirement list.
Cut to the present!
Today, I am an Associate Product Manager! Woohoo! But cracking into the role wasn’t easy at all.
Here are some steps that helped me do this transition:
- Start by applying to the PMs or APMs role in your industry!
Because I was well versed in the education space, I applied for an APMs role in the same industry, because I knew the transition would accompany a steep learning curve and one would need some time to settle in. Thus the knowledge of the industry would make the ride a little smoother.
2. Apply through the spaces that aren’t crowded!
Majority of the job seekers these days, use Linkedin to apply for suitable opportunities. Thus you find 100s and 1000s of applications for a single role. Higher the number of applications, the higher the competition, and the lesser the chance of you getting shortlisted for the first round itself. Thus, along with Linkedin, I used Indeed and similar platforms to apply and it worked!
3. Just give interviews and forget about the result!
For every application I made, my aim used to be to get at least one interview call. Why? Because, the more interviews you give, the more familiar you get with the type of questions that are generally asked, what kind of answers are expected and how must you take them (I gave 20+ interviews). If I got a rejection call, it never hurt me, cuz in the end, at least that bad interview gave me more questions to be prepared for in the next one.
4. Build a product portfolio to showcase your work!
This is the MOST important step! You can’t just crack product management just by your resume or work experience. Employers need to see your product thinking in practice.
The best way to showcase this is through building your product portfolio that has your solved product case studies, some side projects that you did, courses and certifications, etc. The most widely used tools to build product portfolios are Notion & Medium.
I started doing product teardowns organized by theproductfolks and published the same on Medium which became my proof of work.
5. Leverage Linkedin!
Do you use Linkedin only as a job search platform? If yes, you have using it the wrong way! Along with my job search, I used Linkedin to connect with experts from the industry, seek their guidance, share my work and receive their feedback.
Every day, I would spend at least 15 mins looking for people from the industry and send them connect requests by adding a note that had some genuine questions that I wanted answers for to crack the interviews.
To my surprise, most of them accepted my connection request and also reverted to my messages. After some days, I started sharing my product case studies seeking their feedback. Yes, not all got back, but some did, and with solid feedback, which helped me better my next case studies.
6. Upskill yourself!
When I decided to transition into PM, I knew I wasn’t good at tech and related stuff. So, I decided to brush up my basic tech knowledge, and learn more about everyday processes, concepts, and tools that a PM uses like Agile, scrum, Figma, Miro, Jira, etc.
7. Confidence and consistency!
As it says, just trust yourself, be consistent, and don’t let that bad interview or poor assignment ruin your spirit! Make mistakes happily, learn from them, and don’t repeat them. That’s it.
So far, my journey as an APM has been great. I would not say it's easy, yes there is a lot of upskilling I still need, but the experience has been amazing.
Not bragging, but I had 3+ offers before I chose my current organization. Hence proved: these would work!
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Until next time :)