In June 2017, I decided I wanted to become a Product Manager. Less than a year later, I started as a Product Owner for a leading European FinTech company. I will share a few tips below in the hope that it will help others who want to move into Product Management without prior experience.
When you are looking to get product management related experience keep in mind how you can relate your learnings to business, design, and technology.
In whichever way you get product management related experience, it’s important you document your learnings so you can use them as part of your interviews.
Look for opportunities at your workplace
The easiest way to break into Product Management is by looking at where you are working. It’s much easier to move internally to a PM position, by demonstrating you are interested and could do work for them in your spare time.
I was originally in an Investment Research position, but by communicating my interest and sharing my product development ideas, I managed to work on a project which gave me a general understanding of Product Management. I learned about gathering customer feedback, the importance of stakeholder communication, the different parts of designing (wireframes, mockups etc.) and creating specifications for engineers. This experience became a key selling point during interviews for PM positions.
Start a side project
A side project is a great opportunity to have fun while learning how to build a product, get feedback and working with others. If it’s a software product you are trying to build and you are not a developer, it’s an opportunity for you, to understand how to talk to developers and communicate your requirements.
In my case, I was creating a cryptocurrency platform, which never got very far but taught me a lot about building a website, designing, programming and testing my hypothesis and ideas. This helped me during interviews, as I was able to show them my website, my design mockups and communicate my learnings and results.
There are a ton of materials available out there, which can help you understand what Product Management is all about and the different important parts.
What I think helped me the most by order of priority.
- Udemy — Become a Product Manager (https://www.udemy.com/become-a-product-manager-learn-the-skills-get-a-job/)
Takes you through everything from what is a product manager to the product development processes and what you should do to land a job. Highly recommended.
2. Cracking the PM Interview: How to Land a Product Manager Job in Technology by Gayle Lakemann
This book became my go-to guide to write my CV and prepare for interviews. If you master this book you will do great during interviews.
3. INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
Great book on what a product manager has to know and what are the different stages of delivering a product.
4. Product Management for Dummies by Brian Lawley
A good starting book for newcomers to PM, which cover the basics.
5. Lean Startup by Eric Lies
Provides a guideline for developing businesses and products and introduces key concepts on hypothesis experimenting and feedback loop.
6. UI is Communication: How to Design Intuitive, User Centered Interfaces by Focusing on Effective Communication by Everett N. McKay
Really helpful on how to design intuitive user interfaces by focusing on effective human communication.
7. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
A real eye opener around designing and gives a powerful primer on how and why some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.
8. Product Management by Intercom (https://www.intercom.com/books/product-management)
Concisely explains essential parts of product management by looking at how to improve features with helpful frameworks.
This is not a deep dive or a vast list, but really just what I think worked best for me to break into the Product Management world. Please comment if you have questions or want me to elaborate on specific topics.