If you are an aspiring product manager you might have many doubts in your mind regarding starting from courses, side projects, and the type of companies you want to join. I try to sum up all the pieces of information I know which can clear potential doubts in the aspiring product manager.
Product Manager Role
When comes to the product manager role it is not a well-defined role like a product designer or software engineer. The job role will change according to the company. For example, If you are working in a startup, the probability of having a user research team is very low. so you need to conduct user research along with UI/product designer and find insights to better your product. The same will not be the case if your organization has a user research team. However, product strategy, PRD, product roadmap, user research, market research, conducting design sprint, introducing new features, understanding technological limits, and potential of your organization, product launch, pricing strategy, prioritizing the backlog. These are the key areas of the product manager in any organization. Moreover, the Product Managers are cross-functional leaders who take responsibility for the success/failure of the product. Definitely, he is not CEO of the Product. Additionally these days, some companies have specific pm roles such as Blockchain Product Manager, AI Product manager, and Growth Product manager.
Product Management Certification Courses
There are many quality courses starting from Udacity's PM nano degree program, Product school certification courses, Upgrade PM certification course, series of Product management courses from a career path in Linkedin Learning, udemy, and many others. Obviously, you will ask me which one is best? It actually depends on how much you willing to pay and what kind of certification brand you want. I will honestly say, doing one high-paid certification course will not give you a red carpet welcome. All of these above courses will give you the basics of product management but it can be only a valuable addition to your profile already you have.
Who has the upper hand?
If you are coming from Top Tier1 Institution with a management background then you definitely have the upper hand, because one of the key requirements for a product manager role asked by many companies is "Candidates from Tier 1 institutions are preferred". The reason for this requirement is to please the VCs (venture capitalists) for more funding. Next, If you have 2 to 3 years of experience as a software engineer who wants to jump into product management you also have a greater preference. At last, If you have a strong referral or influential person who can reserve the opportunity for you in their organization, then no worries. Not that others don't get opportunities, I am just talking about preferences. It's normal, one needs to accept the reality.
Doing side projects will give great value addition to the profile. But most of the aspirants struggle to get an idea for side projects. I suggest them to see the open challenge platforms and participate in hackathons. The important thing is you need to take up a challenge/ problem in which you can showcase your product management skill. Adding an elevator pitch framework, market sizing, return on investment, creating a storyboard, low fidelity wireframes, user testing, and creating persona all these stuff in your side project gives you an experience like a hands-on real-world project.
Ground Reality Problems (Internship, unpaid work)
If you did not fall in the upper hand category I mentioned above, then you might need to do an internship in a startup that is mostly less paid or unpaid. The stipend is not a big problem here but the main problem is some startup companies didn't have a clear idea of what is really product management. Because some companies who don't have a clear idea about PM hire candidates as a product management intern and they demand different services like marketing, content writing, only project management, only UI Designing, etc. So you need to be careful about what organization you joining. And It is always good to join as an intern in a company that already has an experienced product management professional.
I hope these insights will help Aspiring Product managers.