Product Manager - Particle System Characterization at METTLER TOLEDO Autochem
about 2 years ago
The path to product management isn't always direct. One thing you can do is look for an internship at any company where you would want to break into product management and try to move into a product specialist, associate product manager, or junior program manager role. Start building customer facing experience and work on building up the skillset with input from the company.
In my opinion, it really starts by first answering the question: 'why' do you want to get into Product Management? In essence, Product Management is really about understanding the pains and the gains a customer goes through and translating that into product features and functionalities. It's really about getting answers to the 'What' and 'Why' rather than 'How' to build a particular product. An internship is a good way to get your foot in the door because almost all full time PM roles ask for prior PM experience. Associate PM role is the other alternative and several good companies like Twitter and Uber have a rotational program to groom APMs. To be prepared to apply for PM Internships, definitely have some prior projects/work ex to talk about customer facing aspects of work that you have performed in the past to make your case stronger. Having some experience of working with not just technical teams, but other customer facing teams such as sales, marketing, business development is certainly valuable. Besides applying on job portals like Handshake, LinkedIn, Indeed, Angel List, definitely look up start-ups and other companies that you are passionate to work with and look up key people in the product teams in those companies. Then see if you have any mutual connections to get an introduction. Alternatively, look up their LinkedIn profile and reach out to them by expressing your interest for their work and pitch yourself to land up a 15 minute call or a short meeting over coffee. This definitely will earn you a place in their contact and expand your network for future opportunities.
My advice to non-majors would be that PMs often times don't do technical work themselves, but they must empathize with their team in order to earn their respect and credibility. Therefore they are jack of all trades, spanning design, engineering, data science, and sales & business strategy, but are not necessarily masters of any one of them. The most important traits of PMs are customer-obsession, thinking long term, and constantly evaluating hypotheses of user needs with product-related experiments. These skills are best acquired by doing side projects which has potential to positively impact real users. If you're an English major, partner up with a technical co-founder and take charge of sales, marketing, and design strategy. You'll be able to talk about product decisions when you later go on to interview at top tech companies.
Former Engineering Product Management Intern at Apple
over 3 years ago
I think product management extends far beyond the "technical" side of things (although picking up a programming language, learning basic data structures, algorithms, and system design, and reviewing key databasing procedures would not hurt). A non-technical major would flourish in understanding user empathy and delivering a product that is not only technically feasible but also psychologically needed by the end user. This quick article (something I reference weekly to ground myself) is a perfect starting place for a new PM, https://a16z.com/2012/06/15/good-product-managerbad-product-manager/. Coupling a deep interest to learn about (and scout out) emerging tech trends and a strong passion to own one's product (be it an app, a service, a pipeline, an organization, etc.) would be easiest way to flourish as a new PM. Hope that helps!