Product Management is quickly becoming a popular career opportunity for students – even right out of college.
This is one of the most comprehensive guide’s I’ve seen on breaking into PM. Thanks to MohammedShabbar Manek for contributing this to Student Hustle!
Hey friends! I was inspired by cassidoo’s getting a gig to create this guide on how to get a gig in product management (PM from here on out) as a tech major.
Please note: I left a lot of the original material from getting-a-gig (attitude, resume, cover letter, search and conclusion sections) because it is still relevant to PM. Also, what is here reflects my personal opinion on PM as a whole.
- Introduction (you read that already)
- The Role (aka what PM is)
- Misconceptions (aka what PM is not)
- Your Profile
- Your Skills
- Your Attitude
- Your Resume
- Your Cover Letter
- Your Search
- Some Common Gigs
The Role (aka what PM is)
In recent years, product management has become a hot topic, and there has been a lot of hype surrounding the role. But, what does it really mean to be a product manager? The real answer is that product management is ambiguous. The role of the PM varies from company to company.
We are going to define a product manager as someone who takes ownership over a product (or a part of it) and does everything in their power to make that product succeed. They communicate with major stakeholders (users, internal teams, etc) to determine their requirements and then come up with the best way to make a product move forward. In many ways, product managers act as the glue between the business and the technology, understanding business needs that drive the development of a product.
Here are some good primers by people smarter than me:
- Sachin Rekhi’s talk on product management
- Microsoft’s blogpost on program management – their version of Product Managers
- Should I become a Product Manager?
- A classic article on product management by Ben Horowitz (albeit rather dated)
- The Modern Day Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager by Hemal Shah, a seasoned PM
Misconceptions (aka what PM is not)
Misconception 1: Product Managers are managers
Despire the name “manager” in the title, product managers tend to not directly manage people. In some companies, there may be a product manager managers or a head of product who tends to manage other product managers. But in general, the product manager’s role is not directly above that of engineers, QA, etc. Instead, product managers practice “influence without authority”, which means that they need to be able to get buy in from the rest of the technical team and get them onboard without their vision. This is one of the reasons why product managers need to be strong communicators and great at dealing with people.
Misconception 2: Product Managers are glorified project managers
While it is true that product managers do some project management, the role of the product manager is fundamentally different from that of the project manager. A project manager tends to already have requirements/scoping given to them. They then divy the work up and set timelines. A product manager’s job is to gather the requirements and develop an understanding of where the product is going and communicate this understanding to others to get it done.
Misconception 3: Product Managers are non-technical
While it is true that majority of product managers do not directly touch code, many do come from a technical background. Product Managers need to understand how the development process works and how to communicate with developers. Having experience directly in the development process as a dev, hence, is valuable to have as a product manager. But technical backgrounds are not the only backgrounds that product managers come from. Here is a great blogpost by Sachin Rekhi on the various routes one can take to become a product manager.
As a a tech major, there are three major areas of skills that you want to possess that you can sell yourself to move towards being a product manager: development, design and business.
Development (aka Software Engineering)
I will not go too much in the details here, but having a software engineering background is quite useful for someone going into product. Also, because you are a tech major, I am assuming that you have had some programming courses before and know some of the basics. You will not be directly asked coding interview questions (it is highly irregular for you to be asked them), but knowing the process of the creation of software is invaluable. Furthermore, PM’s tend to need to go through data, so knowing some SQL is valuable.
BUT HOW? Get a software engineering internship somewhere. Go to hackathons and build things. Pick up some side projects along the way.
Depending on the type of product management you are doing, you will have to have an understanding of design. Why? If you are the product manager of an app, you are going to need to have a sense of design to know how to aesthetically make a feature. Beyond that, there is the theory of design (ex: usability heuristics, types of interaction, etc.) as well as the design process. You will need to know how the design process works (defining the problem, coming up with key metrics, brainstorming solutions, determining which one is best to go forward and testing it to see if it’s the right one). So, having a background in some form of design is valuable as you will be going through the design process as a PM and a lot of PM interview questions are design oriented.
BUT HOW? Take design courses in school in areas such as Human Computer Interaction or Interaction Design. Challenge yourself to do redesigns of common websites/products and document your process online (ex: Spotify, Facebook, GMail, etc). Do web design for free for organizations you care about to get a sense how things are designed. Read design blogs/books.
Great product managers are able to understand the market they are in, and the business needs of the company. Using this understanding, they are able to come up with the best solution to move forward. As a result of that, having a good business acumen is a valuable asset. A good product manager is able to understand the competitive landscape and other stakeholders when coming up with the direction of a product. In interviews, this a valuable skill to have too (ex: what are the competitors of a business?).
BUT HOW? Get involved out of school with clubs/extracurricular activities. Start a business or a non-profit and get involved with the business side of things.
The best product managers are the ones who are able to build great products. So, to demonstrate that, pick a product and make it a reality. Here is a repo with some ideas. Or, make a personal website/portfolio, it serves the double purpose of making you look like a stronger candidate and developing your skills. If those bore you, make a clone of your favourite app, but make it better. Show that you have what it takes to make great products and then launch them. Not only will this look good as a PM, but you will have a ton of fun doing it and will learn a lot about what it means to be a PM by doing it.
Obviously, your skills are what a company is buying from you when they hire you. So, honing in those skills and presenting them in an effective way is probably the most important thing in getting a gig.
Unlike software engineering, product management in general is more free form. Part of the reason why is because the role is much less technical and more “soft”. This does not mean that getting into product management is easier, it just means that the skillset you need to develop is different. Product interviews and skills can be broken down into the following categories:
Behavioural questions are your time to tell interviewers what you have done. Remember to follow the CAR method (Context, Action, Results). This is also known as the STAR method in some places. Behavioural questions boil down to 5 major types of questions (thanks Cracking the PM Interview for this insight):
Make a table to come up with answers to all of them (thanks to Cracking the PM Interview for this one).
Estimation questions (also known as fermi problems) are where you are asked to calculate something that you do not know. A classic question is: How many ping pong balls fit in a 747 airplane? My personal approach here is as follows:
- Ask questions to clarify the problem
- State what you know
- Come up with a formula to get the answer
- Fill in what you do not know (remember to state any assumptions)
- Calculate your answer
Remember to use round numbers to simplify your calculations (i.e. use something like 10,000 instead of 9876)
These are arguably the most important questions. They fall into 3 common categories (thanks Cracking the PM Interview for this):
- Design a product (ex: how do you create an alarm clock for people who are blind?)
- Improving a product (ex: how would you improve Instagram?)
- Favourite product (ex: what is your favourite product and why?)
The way you answer these questions is by going through the design process. I will not divulge into the details here, but a good place to learn more would be Cracking the PM Interview (see more resources in the Where to Build Them section).
A common question that is asked is the the product teardown question. You are asked to pick your favourite product, to pull it out (like on your phone or something) and then discuss it with your interviewer. This can take various forms/routes but some common topics include: talking about what you like about the product, what you do not like, what you would do if you were the product manager for it and the competitive landscape is like.
There are some questions that are so common that you need to have an answer for them. In my experience, I have found that they get asked a lot:
- Tell me about yourself – this is your opportunity to make yourself stand out and is a standard interview opener. It is also good to know for career fairs, meetups or anywhere you meet people in life, really. I recommend having a 30 second, 1 minute and 3 minute version ready.
- What is Product Management – because PM is so ambiguous, people want to know if you understand what the role is all about, so it is a common question. Come up with what PM means to you and use it.
- Why Product Management – you should have a good understanding of why you wanna be a PM and be able to communicate it well. This also helps you get a sense of if you really wanna do PM or if you are just following the hype.
Where to build them
This guide isn’t for teaching you these skills. But there are several (more comprehensive) guides, problem sets, and practice systems out there that can help.
- Careercup – paid
- Gainlo – paid (not sure if this is PM specific though)
- Your friends – work with your friends and ask them to mock interview them and return the favour (this helps a lot and can be fun too)
- HH Product Management Facebook Group
- Sachin Rekhi
- Quora: What are the must read blogs for product managers?
Here’s some books that might also be useful.
- Cracking the PM Interview: How to Land a Product Manager Job in Technology, by Gayle Laakmann McDowell – I highly recommend this one. It was the primary source that I used.
- Decode and Conquer: Answers to Product Management Interviews, by Lewis C. Lin – I have not read it, but it seems valuable and is frequently recommended (thanks Fernando Delagato)
- Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath (thanks Marissa for this one)
- Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug
Here’s some articles that may be useful.
- Google’s PM Interview Prep Email – a sample email sent to a candidate for a PM position at Google
Typically for an internship or your first job, PM questions will not be super specific, but it is good practice to know the industry of the company you are applying for and know it well. So, do research on the company and the types of products they make and what you would like to do as a PM there.
When you’re actively emailing and speaking with recruiters, they’re going to ask you a lot of questions that are just checkboxes for what they’re looking for in terms of skills.
When a recruiter or engineer is asking you about a certain project/extracurricular activity you’ve done, be as specific as possible. Tell them exactly what you did on that particular project (or internship or what have you). Tell them how much you contributed, what metrics you used to measure your success, what was the outcome of the project, etc. etc.
When you’re talking to companies about specific things you’ve done, make sure they know:
- What? – What? – What did you make? What does it do? What impact has it made? What was the hardest part? What could you have done better?
- Why? – Why did you make it? Was it for a hackathon, a school project, an open source contribution, or something else?
- How? – With which technologies did you make this? How did you get it done – what is the process used? Did you use a specific API? What parts of it did you work on?
- When? – Did you do this recently or are you still living off of when you peaked in 10th grade?
- Who? – Did you work on this with anyone? Who did what? Who is this for?
Your skills are something that you have, and the reason why you have them is because you’ve used them in some way. All you have to do to prove yourself is to explain yourself! No need to go overboard and brag. Just be honest, and confident.
When you’re internship/job hunting, it’s very easy to feel down if you don’t hear back from companies, an interview goes poorly, or you start comparing yourself to people. It’s a tough field we’re going into.
So. I won’t spend much time on this. But I want to emphasize something: You’re brilliant. You’re in this field for a reason. When your grades aren’t awesome or someone gets something that you wanted, don’t feel down on yourself. So many opportunities will come your way if you just keep working hard and refining your skills.
Mark Twain once said, “Comparison is the death of joy.” When you start to compare your skills to others, it’s hard to not feel as good about your own, or to get a little too competitive about your work. Work hard and don’t let others get you down. It’s remarkable how significantly that can improve both your work and your interviewing experience!
When you’re talking to companies and recruiters at career fairs and hackathons and over the phone, be confident, not arrogant. Be grateful for the opportunity they’re giving you, and smile! A great attitude will take you VERY far.
Your resume is your personal summary sheet. Your resume is the thing that gets your foot in the door. So, there’s a few things you should do (and not do) to make it as awesome as you are.
Make your name BIG.
Your name has to stand out from everything else, because you want it to be remembered. Making it the biggest thing on the page is the easiest thing you can do to make that possible. I’ve seen soooo many resumes where the name is at the top, but it’s just bolded and centered and they expect that to be enough. It’s not.
Stick to one page.
You are in college right now. People more accomplished than you can put their resume in a single page. There is no reason why you should be able to do so too.
Remove the objective.
Nobody looks at the objective. Nobody. I personally spoke to a bunch of recruiters from various companies and they all said that they never look at them. Use that space to talk about projects you’ve done, activities you’ve done, etc.
Remove “References available upon request”.
It is implied.
Keep it to a single page.
Recruiters are looking for a short summary of you. They’re reading several resumes a day, and if they see something longer than they typically read, they could pass over yours for something more concise! If you’d like to say more, put a link to a personal website or portfolio for someone to find it. A resume is a summary, not a tome.
Remove irrelevant information.
I know that lifeguarding in high school was a good gig that helped you gain people skills and attention to detail. But you’re in tech. That doesn’t matter as much to tech companies. Sorry, buddy. I still think you’re great with people. When you’re a first semester freshman, it’s okay to have old high school stuff on there, just because it’s less likely that you have other things to put on your resume. But as soon as you have a college GPA to work with, a club or two, and some volunteer experiences to replace that, do it.
Don’t make it a scavenger hunt.
When an application reviewer (engineer, recruiter, or otherwise) is looking over your resume, don’t make it difficult for them to understand who you are and what you know.
For example, if you have online profiles like GitHub, LinkedIn, Twitter, or even your own personal website, put it on your resume. Don’t make them have to search long and hard for you online if they want to know more!
If you decide to put relevant coursework on your resume, please, don’t just put course numbers. Nobody knows what that means. And nobody is going to go to your university’s website to find out exactly what CS229 is. Put down the course titles instead!
And finally, put down your graduation date. So many students I’ve seen don’t put it on there because they are hiding the fact that they’re a freshman, or they’re “technically a junior if you count the credits.” That doesn’t matter. Trust me. Just put down your graduation date so that the company knows how much experience you have, and how soon they can potentially pull you in for full-time.
Include only certain personal information.
Companies aren’t allowed to ask about your religion, marital status, or race/ethnicity, so you shouldn’t include that.
In terms of contact information: you don’t need your mailing address. That is a thing of the past. Just like my youth. Tech companies email, and maybe call. That’s all you need!
Some great things that you might also want to put on there are your personal website (if you have one, which you should), your GitHub profile (if you have one, which you should), and your LinkedIn (if you have one, which you should).
Though there’s some who might disagree, you should include your GPA. If your major GPA is significantly higher than your overall GPA, you might want to consider having both (high tends to be anything over 3.0/4.0, but some say that high is actually 3.5/4.0). When you have graduated and have a full-time job, you won’t need it as much. But at this point in your beautiful life, keep it in there. Some companies care about GPA more than others, so you might as well play it safe and have it there.
There will always be a debate on if GPA is important as a tech major. My take on it is that GPA is important to an extent. There is barely any difference between a 3.9 GPA and a 4.0. But a 2.9 GPA vs a 3.0 GPA is quite different. That being said, do not be discouraged if you do not have a high GPA. There are ways to make yourself look good as a candidate like by being involved in extracurriculars, having side projects or being an entrepreneur of sorts (profit or non-profit). That being said, GPA is something that you only get one shot at. And, bigger companies tend to favour people with higher GPAs (Google is one that is notorious for that). Once you graduate, you cannot go back and redo it. So, you should definitely have a personal understanding of where you feel comfortable with and aim to reach that point.
Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter is your written sales pitch. You’ve got a resume that summarizes everything. Now you have to write out a more complete, professional description of you and what you can offer a given company. Here’s a sample cover letter to get you started:
I hope your day is going well! My name is _________, and I’m a _________ at _________. I am very interested in working for _________ next _________. Your commitment to _________ and _________ that I saw on the website inspired me! The products you build and the values you stand for make _________ seem like an ideal workplace for me. A little about me, I [insert relevant work experience, extracurriculars, and projects here]. I think these experiences would make me a great candidate for you.
Please let me know if there’s anything else you need from me. I look forward to hearing from you! I can be reached at _________ and _________.
Now, remember, this is just a sample. You can write a cover letter in any format you’d like. But, you should be sure to include the following:
- Who – Who you are. Easy enough.
- Where – Where you’re coming from.
- Why – Why you’re interested in this company, and show that you researched them.
- What – What you can bring to the table.
- When – When you’re available to start, and when they can contact you.
- How – How they can reach you.
You have a resume and cover letter in hand, and you have the skills to make anyone want you. Now, you just have to find the right gig for you.
When you’re on the hunt for a great internship or first job, the events you go to can really set you apart, and will help you meet people that could potentially help you in the long run.
The biggies that you will definitely run into are:
- Career Fairs
So, how do you find these events? They’re happening all the time, you just need to know where to look. Firstly, ask people in the field. Talk to a mentor, a fellow student, a professor, a colleague… anyone could come through for you! I remember my first tech event I went to in college was because I ran into a guy that I met orientation day. And now he and I are coworkers. Fancy that. Anyway, people can get you very far.
Otherwise, when people don’t work, we always have the glorious internet leading the way. There’s so many resources out there I definitely can’t list them all. So I’ll list just a few.
- Your School – Yeah, this is kind of an easy shot, but not a lot of people consider their schools as an event generator, when they should. Go on to your university’s website and find the career fair, find a seminar, find a company presentation, find something that will help you learn and meet people. You’ll probably find a lot of options!
- Meetup – Meetup is a great place to find groups of people who are interested in the same things you are, who meet regularly. Look for engineering meetups that are hosted at companies. You’ll get to see an office, and meet people who actually work there (in addition to those who might work at other organizations).
- Eventbrite – Eventbrite is best for finding events that aren’t recurring. You can often find workshops, networking events, parties, and classes there. I tend to just search for the term, “tech” or “computer” and the results simply flow. Like a babbling brook. Or something.
- Major League Hacking – MLH provides a fairly thorough schedule of university hackathons every semester. Most of the events on their schedule provide travel reimbursement, but there’s so many that you’ll likely find one near you!
- Lanyrd – Lanyrd is a “social conference directory” that is full of conferences based on almost any topic. Follow your favorite speakers or search for a particular language or technology, and you’ll be set.
Like I mentioned before, there’s a lot of resources out there for finding events. Now that you have places to go to, what do you do there? WHAT A CLEVER SEGUE.
The whole point of going to events (besides learning something, of course) is to network. Meeting and maintaining relationships with people in this industry is essential.
So, how do you just network with people? How do you make it as natural as eating pie on Pi Day? I’ll show you, Bert.
First of all, don’t think of it as networking. You don’t want to get the heebie-jeebies. Think of it as meeting people who like what you like. When you’re at these events, you’ll occasionally see groups of people staying in their own groups, not often reaching out to others. You’re not going to do that. You’re going to be a professional, social butterfly.
Follow generally these steps (as casually or formally as the event calls for) when networking:
- Introduce yourself. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people just sort of slide into a conversation without ever actually providing anyone with their name or title. Go up to people and tell them who you are.
- Make small talk about tech. Again, an obvious tip, but important. You want to know what this person’s skills are, and you want them to know yours. Someday, they might be looking for someone to help them on a project in a language that you know, or vice-versa. Get the important details out in the open about each other so that not only you can remember each other, but you can help each other out in the future. And don’t forget to have fun with it!
- Exchange contact information. If you have no way of finding the person you’re talking to again, and they don’t have a way of finding you, then you’re just wasting a potentially valuable connection. Whether you give them a business card or an email address, or even a Twitter handle, keep that information!
- Follow-up. This is probably the most important thing I will tell you in this whole guide. Hence the bold letters. So pretty. Anyway. Following up is the guaranteed way of leaving an impression with someone. Whether you email or tweet or InMail or Facebook message or pigeon mail, just sending a simple, “it was nice to meet you!” message is absolutely vital when it comes to networking. I’ve actually heard stories of people changing their mind about hiring someone based on a follow-up message. And following up doesn’t stop at the “nice to meet you” message. At some point down the line, it’s great practice to send a “how are you doing?” message to someone you’re interested in maintaining a relationship with. For all three of my mentors that I had in college (and to this day), the way we built our relationship was through these sorts of follow-up messages. Do them.
Networking is about building relationships, and what you can do with those relationships is up to you. But we’re talking about getting a job. So let’s move on to one of the best ways of getting one, with these relationships.
Referrals are your in. If you can get a referral from an employee of the company you’re applying for, that’s money. It pushes you towards the top of the pile of resumes that they’re getting every single day. Using the relationships you’ve built from networking, all it takes is a simple ask! You can get a referral from current employees, former ones, interns, former interns, friends of engineers, acquaintances of recruiters… really, anyone who is connected with the company. If they have a job posting up for a given position, they are looking around for engineers just as much as you’re looking around for a great gig! The company knows that they’re going to be speaking with someone potentially really good (because they were recommended by someone trusted), and you get to speak to a company for whom you want to work. Having a referral is a win for both parties.
Asking for a referral really depends on your relationship with the referrer. If you know them in a strictly business setting, you might want to send them a more professional request. But if you know the referrer pretty well, chances are you know how to ask for a favor. One thing that you must remember though is to, again, follow up! If you haven’t heard back from your referrer, reach out and check on your status. If they let you know that you’re in the system, be gracious and take them for coffee or something. Common courtesy. You’ve got this.
A lot of people are fans of cold calling, which is making unsolicited contact with a person at a company and hoping for something good to come of it. I admit, I’m not one of those people. Seems spammy. But, I’ll tell you about some ways to do that anyway, to make your cold calls as potentially successful as possible.
First of all, you should have an email for someone at the company you’re looking at. You could ask around your network for contact information for a given person, or you could just go out on a limb and test some emails to see if they’re valid. A lot of companies have fairly standard email address templates (email@example.com, for example), so you can just keep sending a few until you find a legitimate one. If you need names to test out, you can scour LinkedIn or the company’s website to try and find something that works.
Once you have a legitimate email on your hands, get to work on making a personalized message to them. Emphasis on the personal. When you’re cold calling, you can’t have just any standard email template where you stick in the company’s name where it fits. You have to clearly let the person know why you’re writing, from where you got their information (if it’s not just a random guess, of course), why you would be a good fit for the company (where you will sell those awesome skills of yours), and why you think the company is great. Essentially, you’re writing a glorified cover letter.
When the email has been sent, you’re done. If you haven’t heard back in a week or two, send a follow-up, but if they still haven’t replied after that, chances are they won’t reply at all. And that’s okay. It happens. That’s the territory when it comes to cold calling.
Some Common Gigs
In general, product management gigs tend to be few and far between. A company may have 1 PM for every 10 engineers. Or, even more. As a result of that, companies tend to be very selective. A good tactic to employ is to get an internship doing something easier to get into first (i.e. software engineering) and then use the contacts you make to help you land the interview. Also, something that helps a lot is referrals (see above). Big companies tend to give preference to them.
A lot of smaller companies/startups tend to have product managers as well. Often with them, they will not have an established PM Program. But, if you find the right decision maker and sway their opinion, you can actually end up with an internship that way (IMO this is the more effective and true to PM way to do it, especially if big company life is not for you or if you do not get into big companies).
- Microsoft Program Management Internship – One of the most established PM internship programs. Microsoft tends to fill up spots early though, so aim to apply to this one by late August, early September if you want it the following summer (ex: apply in September 2016 for Summer 2017 internships). Reach out to your Microsoft Recruiter (every school tends to have one assigned to them). Microsoft tends to lump this up with the Software Engineering Internship, and the applications tend to be the same as the application as the software engineering internship.
- Google APM Intern – One of the most selective and exclusive PM Internships. Definitely hard to get into. They publish the day that applications open, so apply on that day to maximize your chances.
- LinkedIn Product Management Internship – This one is a newer one, so there are fewer spots (for summer 2017, apparently there is max 10 spots)
- Yelp Product Management Internships – I personally do not know much about this beyond the fact that it does in fact exist.
- Data Dog Product Management Internship – same with this
- Twitch Product Management Internship – same with this
- Lyft Product Management Internship – same with this
- Redfin Product Management Internship – same with this
- Eventmobi – a startup in Toronto, Canada that has previously hired PM interns
Fellowships are a great way to network with a community and get valuable mentorship that will most certainly help you in the long run. They vary depending on the program, but typically you’ll get assigned a mentor or two, go to several events to network with professionals, and intern for a company that has partnered with the specific fellowship program. Some fellowships exist where you can actually get a gig as a product manager (ex: KPCB’s product fellowship). They tend to be rather selective, though. (This can be a good stepping stone to get into product)
Here’s a list of some example fellowship programs. This is by no means a complete list (feel free to send a pull request or file an issue if there’s another you’d like to be added), but it should get you started!
- Cansbridge Fellowship
- FirstMark Elite
- Ford-Mozilla Fellows
- hackNY Fellows
- Knight-Mozilla Fellows
- KPCB Fellows
- Mayfield Fellows Program
- PennApps Fellows
- True Entrepreneur Corps
- NEA Summer Residents
In addition to these fellowships, several companies offer special programs for younger students that are similarly geared towards learning and mentorship. Here’s another list that is not complete, but will get you started:
- Microsoft Explore (Cassidoo did this one and she says that this program is AWESOME. Also, people have done this and then converted it to an opportunity to intern as a PM at Microsoft the following year)
- Google Engineering Practicum
- Facebook University of Engineering
- Intel IRISE
- Qualcomm EIP (Early Identification Program)
- Pinterest Engage Software Engineer Intern
- Yahoo APM – one of the first associate product manager programs…
- Facebook RPM – This is a rotational program that spans 18 months, where you get the opportunity to spend 6 months as a product manager in various functional areas in Facebook.
- Google APM – Google’s version of a rotational product management program started by Marissa Meyer. This Quora post has a bunch of info on it.
- Twitter APM – This is a two year program where you go through two rotations.
- Zynga RPM – apparently Zynga does the whole PM rotation thing too…
- Microsoft Program Managers – Microsoft tends to hire PM’s right out of college, meaning that you straight away become a fully fledged PM.
- Uber APM – apparently Uber hires Associate Product Managers out of school too….
So, cliché parting words. Work hard, stay healthy, and be yourself! All of these phrases are said a lot for a reason.
One of my favourite sayings is “The first step to achieving your dreams is to not be afraid of dreaming them in the first place” (thanks Ilya for that gem). You are in an incredibly challenging field that forces you to think in ways that many can’t even fathom. You’re constantly pushing the limits of logic and creativity, as well as technology itself. You’ve made SUCH an exciting choice to pursue this! It will be hard. You’re going to want to give up at times. I certainly did. You may even fail at times (that is ok too as long as you learn from it and use it as fuel to keep moving forward). But, it’ll all be worth it in the end when you’ve finally earned the gig of your dreams.
When I tell you to stay healthy, it’s something that you might not consider when you’re working until 3AM on a programming problem or trying to survive with 21 credits of technical classes. We’ve all been there. At times, it feels like it’s the only way to get ahead. But guess what: it’s not! Try to have a decent sleep schedule (as in, more than 3 hours a night) and eating schedule, too. It’ll keep you from burning out, and it’s proven that it’ll keep you alert and focused, which is essential for interview season!
Cassidy’s favorite quote is from Helen Keller: “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” Everyone wants to be great, in their own way. When I say to “be yourself,” I mean that I want you to show people who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what you strive to be! If you keep your personal goals in mind as you work towards them, everything will fall into place, and you can truly soar into a great career.
Alright, I’ve said my piece. Go get ’em. I hope that you find this guide useful as you go out to create change and be the best that you can be!