I will be speaking from a project management point of view but you can still learn some career tips that would help you in defining your own profession.
So, let me ask you, my dear project management student, “What do you want to do after you graduate?” Yes, I know you are currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree and a certification in project management and would maybe like to practice project management after you graduate but, “What do you really want to do after you graduate?”
Do not tell me you want to do or practice project management. If you tell me you want to practice project management, that means you do not really know what you want to do. And the major reason why you do not know what you want to DO is because you do not know who you want to BE. You are still confused about your project management career path.
Let’s say you are currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree or a certification in project management, does that necessarily mean you would end up practising the project management profession? The answer is no because some persons just needed the degree or certification and not because they want to practice the profession. However, I want to focus this post on those who are interested in practising the project management profession after getting their degrees or certifications.
Let me tell you something. Most of the past project management graduates were not told and did not know the importance of having a clear answer to that question until after spending some years in the labour market, and I’m speaking from experience. The only thing they knew while in school and even after graduating was that they wanted to be project managers. So, you as a project management student, who’s currently reading this post, should count yourself lucky to have someone like me who have passed through the (degree) system and wants to help you define your own project management career for FREE. I’m saving you years of career confusion that some of us have passed through.
You see, we focus so much on blaming the university (even though I know some are not up to standard), the lecturers (even though I also do know some are not qualified to lecture) and the education system (of course, the system is not well organised) without putting some of the blames on ourselves for our career confusion. Our education system in Nigeria does not value the importance of Career Counsellors and that’s why you would hardly see any in our academic institutions. What I’m currently doing with you is a form of career counselling where by I am trying to help you define your project management career. And if you need further advice, feel free to visit my project management career clinic.
So, let me ask you again, “As a project management student, what do you really want to do after you graduate?” The only person in this world who can answer that question is YOU – not your lecturers, not your parents and not your friends. The university would offer you some knowledge about project management. It is your responsibility to determine where and how you want to apply the knowledge.
Project management is a professional course and every professional course have areas of specialisation. It does not necessarily mean you must limit your career or job search to that area of specialisation after you graduate. You need to know who you want to be as it will help you have a defined career.
Now, if you tell me you would like to practice project management, does that really define who you want to be? No, because everyone practices project management in one form or the other. After all, life itself is a project! What if you tell me you would like to practice project management in the software industry, does that also define who you want to be? Yes, because now I know who you want to BE – a software project manager – and what you want to DO, professionally – managing software projects. And like I said before, you do not need to limit your career or job search to the software industry after you graduate. But it will help you focus your career on the important skills you need to learn or develop or the certifications you need to pursue after graduating so as to build yourself to becoming a software project manager. You can even start learning or developing some of those skills while still in school if you answered the question early enough.
Do not waste your time complaining about the department not creating options or areas of specialisation. Think about who you want to be. Define your career before graduating. Look for good books that have been written by project management professionals in that industry you are interested in and add them to your reading timetable. Use your internship periods (industrial training and NYSC) to practice your skills, connect with more professionals and read more books.
I’m currently developing my career coaching skills (aspiring to be a career coach with special focus on the project management profession) and my digital media skills (aspiring to be a digital project manager) because those are my areas of interest in the world of project management. If you are a project management student or recent graduate, the sooner you have a clear answer on who want to be and what you want to do, the more focused you will be with your project management career.
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