Over the last few years, I’ve had many online and in-person conversations with aspiring and young project managers in Nigeria.
I’d like to share some of the common excuses or concerns that have consistently come up during these conversations. I may not be qualified to give much advice on how to answer them (Disclosure: I’m still a young project manager! So, not well experienced). However, I can shed some light on some of these excuses or concerns:
1. I’m a (Local) Nigerian Graduate, the Industry Won’t Regard or Respect Me
Who says our local industries are only seeking for foreign graduates or persons with foreign degrees? In fact, there are no industries or sectors in the country that are dominated by foreign graduates or foreigners, so stop giving yourself the excuses that the PM industry won’t employ you because you’re a Nigerian graduate or because you don’t have a foreign degree, and seek for constructive ways to use your local certificate to its fullest value. Also, respect is not given, it’s earned. So work for it.
2. I Don’t Have Any Experience in Planning, Executing or Managing Projects
I think this is by far the most common of all excuses I have heard from young project managers. Do you know how those persons you call “project management professionals” started? They started with little or no experience in the field of project management and seriously worked their way to the top, so stop deceiving yourself and wasting your precious time with the excuses of no experience. Besides, if there were no young project managers like you, the profession would die because there would be no one to learn and take over from the senior project managers when they retire or change career. And in fact, most companies in the world that values PM are constantly seeking for young project managers to employ so they would train them based of their companies’ project management principles, cultures and values, other than wait to employ already-made senior project managers in the future. So promote yourself as the young project manager you are, and when the job comes, the experience would follow suite, that’s if you’re willing and patient enough to learn!
3. I Don’t Have a Post-Graduate Diploma or Masters Degree in Project Management
Yes, there are so many persons with bachelors degree that having a post-graduate degree in a PM-related course will be an added advantage. But if you don’t have one yet, do not make it an excuse that the PM industry won’t favour you because of it. If it’s highly needed in your company, you can let your employers know that you’re very much willing to further your education once you’re financially capable of doing so. And make sure you stick to your words, besides it will also benefit your professional career.
4. I Don’t Have Any PM Certification
Who says you can’t get a PM job without having a PM certification? If you’ve a bachelor’s or masters degree in project management then you do NOT have a problem as the main reason most companies demand for a PM certification is to verify that you have a basic and technical knowledge of PM. In fact, most companies nowadays prefer a PM degree to a PM certification because having a degree implies that you have learned from a broader knowledge base (including theory) combined with some industrial training (student internship) experience. So, you can present your degree certificate in PM as a proof for that. However, if the company still insist on you having a particular PM certification, that’s not an excuse for you to sit at home waiting until you get such certification. Negotiation and communication are key here. Let the company know that you’re willing to apply and sit for the certification examination once you get the financial resources or experience needed. Beside, some certification requires you to get some experience before you can apply for them, so negotiate all these with your company and kill off those flimsy excuses of yours.
5. My Company Does Not Value Project Management
The value of project management as a profession is still relatively unknown in some companies in Nigeria, so most of their projects are still being managed by non-project management professionals. If you’re in such a company that does not value project management or doesn’t believe that there are professionals called project managers, try your best to make them understand the value of project management. But if they do not listen to your PM ideas, which might be difficult based on the fact that they would question your experience as a young project manager, find a way to make some of the top persons in your company attend a PM event. But if they still do not value PM, then I think it’s time you seek for other companies that value project management. Do not allow any company to kill your project management career before you even get started.
6. There Are No PM Jobs for Young Project Managers in the Country
You can’t just sit at home, keep complaining and wait for a PM job to create legs and walk up to you. And in this country where jobs are kind of scarce, you need to be creative in your job search or develop yourself to becoming a PM Entrepreneur. I have discussed how young project managers can kick-start their PM career and how you can use blogging to get your dream job in PM.
7. Our Top Project Managers Are Not Passing Enough Local PM Knowledge Down To Us
We have very good professional and accomplished project managers in Nigeria but because they are not leveraging the Internet and social media to share their wealth of experiences online, you tend to always get connected with top project managers from North America, Australia, Europe and Asia when you Google for project management ideas. So I challenge all our top project managers in Nigeria and in Africa at large to learn how to use the Internet and social media to share their knowledge, opinions and experiences on project management.
What are the common excuses or concerns that have you heard from aspiring and young project managers?