Let me help you to understand this.
Why would you want to manage IT projects?
How did IT project management suddenly become so sexy!
Many people in other positions are now very interested in IT. In the past, a coworker was planning to go to school to earn a degree as web designer. She was a snob about assignments and tried to find shortcuts to avoid the work. She asked me for my assistance, and I had to back off sometimes because she wanted me to do the assignment.
She wasn’t interested in web design.
I asked her about her career goals and she replied, “The money.”
Don’t do this for the money
People are often interested in IT because they are computer geeks. They love technology…it’s their hobby.
I was a manager of operations for a small start up ISP. I had the chance to learn how to program and administer a Lucent Definity telephone system. Because we didn’t have the budget for reporting packages, I wrote scripts to pull in ascii data and generate useful reports.
This is my point: I love technology. I am not a gamer anymore and I don’t care much about writing code. I have only reformatted and reloaded computers 2 or 3 times in the past year to test out new operating systems.
So I’m not a geek anymore. What I do have is an extensive background of knowledge and interest that allows my to quickly understand the ‘IT’ environment and people I work with as a project manager.
This foundation is crucial.
We had a chat about this while we were in Orlando last October. We both agreed that you need that foundation to succeed in any industry or functional area.
I won’t be managing any construction projects anytime soon. Being a shop boy in a concrete company when was 12 doesn’t really give you any ‘footings’ in construction.
Which ‘IT?’ do you mean
What does it really mean to say that you want to be an IT project manager?
IT is a broad term that can refer to many things.
I have managed projects that involved end-user application development, building websites, server-side automation, back-office integration between proprietary systems after acquisitions, and building out a switch. It is difficult to keep track of all the specialties that make up the title of “IT”.
Web-based application development was my initial focus. Before I became a manager, I had worked as an individual contributor for many years. After a while, I was ready to move onto something else.
Before you begin thinking about a career in IT project management, be clear about your goals. It is important to research enough to be able to identify the best opportunities. Then, you can choose to specialize. Maybe data warehousing is what you are looking for…that’s quite different from developing software for an internal company desktop app. You can expand your knowledge in the future, but I recommend that you choose a specific area for now.
Education and certifications: a rant
Remember the story I told you about my coworker? You might be wasting your money and time if you do it for the money.
I interviewed for a senior position many years ago.