You know project management is the right career for you, but your resume is decidedly light on real-world experience. Even if you have the qualifications and training to back up your dedication to this career path, employers are often looking for candidates who will bring some practical experience to the company.
So how do you get experience when no one will give you a job?
The good news is that many candidates worry about this unnecessarily. If you show the right attitude, talk knowledgeably about the subject from your training and are enthusiastic about the role, you are highly likely to be able to find an entry-level position in a project-related field with a suitable employer.
However, you can boost your chances of being considered for a project management job if you can get some experience to showcase that you have practical skills that have been tried and tested in the real world.
And it is possible to do that, as long as you are prepared to commit the time and the energy to finding the opportunities and making the most of them.
The best way to gain practical experience without a new role, and that’s through volunteering. While you can find a cause that is close to your heart and volunteer to work on their projects, a more career-enhancing (and probably easier) option is to join your local PMI Chapter. PMI is a USA-headquartered but international organization aimed at furthering the project management profession worldwide. Their local Chapters organize a range of events and volunteers are most welcome!
What Sort of Volunteering Can You Do?
PMI Chapters are community-led, but local volunteers and the exact positions available to you will depend on what vacancies are on the committee right now. However, PMI volunteers are not people who will turn down extra help, and it’s highly likely that if you want to assist, you can grow your project management skills. Thru PMI and other volunteer organizations, you should be able to find you a volunteer position that will support your development and give something back to the community.
You could, for example, get involved with:
- Member management and coordination
- Chapter communications
- Chapter social media management
- Events planning
- Facilitating discussions and leading workshops and more.
You can also gain valuable experience of being part of a team putting on an event or training session, and everything that comes with it such as board meetings, supplier negotiations, contract management through to follow up satisfaction surveys with participants afterwards.
All of these initiatives can be framed as projects and give you useful experience to put on your resume, either as the person who managed the project or as someone who contributed to the team. You should be able to talk knowledgeably about these at an interview, and if you have got to an interview, then the hiring manager won’t mind that you are discussing projects that were done as part of a volunteer effort and not a paid role.
The Career Benefits of Volunteering With PMI
Above and beyond the opportunities of being able to take part in local projects which will boost your experience on your resume, there are other benefits too.
You’ll be spending time with people who work as professional project managers. Many Chapters have programs to support new project managers find work through job events, link ups with local recruiters or resume reviews. All of these could be beneficial to you.
Chapters also support people working towards their professional project management credentials. You could further your knowledge in project management by starting to review some of the content of these qualifications, even if you don’t yet have the experience to apply to sit the exams just yet.
Taking it Further
Volunteering with PMI can be a career long commitment. Moving beyond the local level, later in your career, you could volunteer to take part in standards committees, advisory groups or even as a Volunteer Director on the PMI Board.
What starts off as a way of gaining practical experience in managing projects might turn into a supportive community for life. Find your local PMI Chapter here and find out what opportunities are waiting for you. Another positive step on the route to entering the project management field is making a call to us. Triumph Strategic Consulting can help you polish your resume and advise on how we can help you secure the job of your dreams. Get in touch today.
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