You don’t necessarily need a project management certificate to end up in a project management position! This was the premise of all three of our panelists last week. As a PhD, you will, in fact, already have the skills necessary to pitch yourself as a project manager.
Here are some valuable tips on how to translate those talents into tangible skills:
What You Already Know
- You learn quickly. Chances are that you have started several research projects entirely from scratch. This may have involved not simply learning about a new topic, which we as academics marvel at, but also mastering new methodologies. This is one entry-point into project management: You can easily learn the software and the procedures being used in the company or organization. That’s what you’ve done all your academic life!
- You have already managed a multi-year project. Now, some of you may be better at organization and time management than others, but the truth is that your dissertation is or was a longitudinal project that required accomplishing several steps to to complete. You have already been your own project manager! You can thus offer an understanding of timelines and milestones, which are important to project management. In addition, your dissertation may have required an added bit of internal motivation, and you can’t go wrong pitching that.
- You have honed communication and collaboration skills. It’s likely that you’ve had to organize team projects. Maybe you sat on a committee or planned an event. Maybe you were responsible for communicating to your entire lab or for organizing a journal club. These are soft skills that often go forgotten, but they are high on the project management list. You are a communicator and collaborator, and you know how to get people organized.