Association for Project Management
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Starting your journey in project management: How to gain real world experience

Projects happen in every industry sector, from technology and engineering, to arts and entertainment. What’s more, organisations are increasing the number of projects they’re working on, so there’s a growing requirement for skilled project managers to deliver them successfully.

If you’re a student or recent graduate who’s considering project management as a career, you might be wondering how you can gain experience that will provide a competitive advantage in the job market.

James Elliott, Property, Strategy and Governance Manager at Allianz UK, will be among the speakers at ‘Starting Your Journey in Project Management’; an upcoming, free-to-attend event in Guildford, Surrey on Wednesday, 28 September.

He offers the following advice for gaining real-world experience:

  1. Sign-up to student societies – student societies have a lot of things to work on, and with so many to choose from, joining a society can be a great way to gain experience. While event management is its own discipline, there’s so many similarities with project management including planning, budgeting, and communication.
  2. Join your local sports teams or social clubs – studying can be hectic, so as well as providing a valuable social outlet, being part of a team or club can provide valuable down time. If you’re already part of a team – or considering joining one – you could get even more from it by helping them plan and deliver scheduled activities, events, fundraising campaigns, and more.
  3. Volunteer for a charity – more employers are taking notice of corporate social responsibility. Supporting the great work charities do is always a worthwhile endeavour. If it’s something you’re considering, see if there’s an opportunity to get involved with any projects they’re working on.

Prior to becoming a project manager, James served in the armed forces as an engineer. He got his first experience of project management by volunteering for a community bowling alley, taking on the task of upgrading their bowling machines.

Reflecting on the experience, he recently said:

“Leading that upgrade was fantastic as I got to manage my own initiative from start to finish. This included everything from applying for funding, designing solutions with suppliers, tracking the project timelines and budgets, and co-ordinating the re-launch event.

“When I left the armed forces, I used this experience as my main case study to land my first project manager role in a web development agency.”

‘Starting Your Journey in Project Management’ has been organised by APM’s Thames Valley Branch as part of the APM Emerging Professionals Network. The event is open to anyone in the early stages of their project career. It will explore some of the ways to become a project professional and gain valuable project management skills that you can take you forward at work.

Find out more and register your free place here.


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