Job Title: Program Manager
Type of Company: I work for a large global computer services company.
Education: certificate, Computer Programming, Morse School of Business BS, Mathematics/Actuarial Science, University of Connecticut MBA, Management of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Previous Experience: I started my career as an application programmer for a large aerospace company. I held technical computer positions for a few years with a large computer services company and moved into a business role at the same company where I have been working ever since.
Job Tasks: As a program manager, I am responsible for a number of related projects that are linked together by some common objective, theme or requirement. While the projects have a start and end date, the program start date is known but the end date is not always as clear. A program may continue for as long as it shows benefits to the company and the customer. I am responsible for creating and maintaining communication plans with my customers and my management team so that everyone who needs to receive information gets it on time in the kind of detail they require. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that all of the projects in my program remain on schedule and stay within budget.
As with most things, there are always situations that evolve or need to be changed and it is my job to address those situations and ensure that the necessary changes can be accommodated without disrupting other areas of the business. I am responsible for making sure my projects have skilled people to work on them when they are needed and that, when the projects end, the people are re-assigned.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is exceeding a customer's expectations and seeing how happy they are with the results. The worst part of the job is when there has been a mismatch or misunderstanding of the customer's wants or needs and we fail to meet their expectations and they are disappointed with the results. This can lead to morale problems within the project team which can be challenging to turn around. Nobody likes to hear that they didn't do the right thing, especially when they have worked so hard. Sometimes communications just aren't clear and result in problems that can be difficult to fix.
Job Tips: The Project Management Institute (which has a website you can Google) offers a certification program that you can pursue. Once you become a certified Project Manager you will have a credential that is recognized within the profession and by potential employers. You will need experience and education in order to meet the qualifications for certifications, so its worth becoming familiar with the requirements so you can focus your efforts.
Additional Thoughts: Never underestimate the importance of a good education. Strong math and communication skills will help you in more ways than you might think. The problem-solving skills you learn in math class will stick with you long after you have forgotten the complicated formulas.
Where to find the answers, how to ask for help when you need it and honoring your commitments: all of these are important skills to master and retain. Good luck!
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