How You Can Boost Your Project Management Degree to Get That Dream Job in Google

One of my articles titled “How Did The Project Management Profession Get Into This Mess?” which was published on The Girl’s Guide to PM Blog prompted some constructive debate. One of the comments got me to writing this article. It was posted by Dmitriy of Project Management Basics. He said, “For example, it is more appealing to get a degree in computer science and get a PM certificate in four days. And now you can qualify for a management position in Google or Apple. Not vice verse.”

Reading that comment, I began to contemplate if persons like us with a bachelor’s degree in project management do really know how to supplement or boost it with a recognised certification and also qualify for a mid-level position in Google or Apple.

Now, let us assume that getting a bachelor’s degree in computer science and supplementing it with a project management certification would open up job opportunities for you in mega companies like Google and Apple as Dmitriy said. Furthermore, what if you have a bachelor’s degree in project management and no certifications yet and also want to have a dream job in one of the global mega companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Alibaba and Facebook, how would you go about it? What certifications would you need to consider apply for that would boost your project management degree?

Before I answer that question, let me first tell you that a university or college degree alone, be it in computer science, information technology or project management, will not offer you a job in any of those mega companies. There are even persons without university education who are working in top positions in some of those mega companies. Why? Those mega companies focus more on your talents and skills (learning ability, leadership, adaptability, collaboration, etc) and less on your degree or certification (if any). These mega companies only care about what you can do with what you know irrespective of how you learned it. Moreover, in this age when digital transformation and innovative technology are making it easier for people to self-learn and practice new skills, you have no excuse to be “skills-broke.” I was never thought about blogging and social media, I learned it practically through trial and error and today, I am currently blending it with my project management skills and working towards becoming a Digital Project Manager.

Let me now answer the question of how you can boost your project management degree to stand a chance of qualifying for that dream job of yours in a mega company like Google or Apple. Having a project management degree certainly does not hurt. In fact, it shows that you have some project management knowledge and skills in you. However, the project management skill set is a “generalised” skill set that can be applied or practised across any industry or sector, so you would need to have some “specific” or “specialised” skills that would help you focus your career map at this early stage of your career journey. Learning that “special” skill would help hiring managers and recruiters know which industry or department(s) you could fit in. In addition, learning a new skill is where getting a recognised certification or doing a master’s degree comes in. For this article, we will focus on certifications.

One of the ways to determine which skills you should develop or learn is by asking yourself, “What kind of project manager would I like to be?” The answer would help determine the new skills that you would need to develop or learn to blend with your project management skills. If you want to be a Digital Project Manager like me, then you should develop your digital media skills or learn digital marketing. If you want to be a Software Project Manager, then develop your coding skills or pursue a professional software certification.

If you would learn your new skills through formal training, it would be nice to have a certification to back it up. So, here are some trending skills with certifications that you can aim for:

1. Big Data Certification: Persons with expertise in the techniques required to analyse big data are highly sought after and well paid. So having a big data certification is a great option to prove to employers that you have the right skill set. Blending it with your project management skills qualifies you as an aspiring Big Data Project Manager.

2. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Certifications: Business Continuity is about keeping systems running and data available irrespective of any interruption. Disaster Recovery is the process of bringing systems back to normal operations following a disaster of some sort. Having a BC and DR certification shows that you have the skills needed to respond to a disaster, such as a cyber-attack or cyber security breakdown disaster, and that you can implement a disaster recovery plan to stabilize and restore the organisation’s web critical functions. Blend it with your project management skills, gain more experience and plan your way to becoming a BC and DR Project Manager.

3. Cloud Computing Certification: Persons with cloud computing skills continue to be in high demand as more companies and businesses worldwide are adopting cloud technologies. Blending your cloud computing skills with your project management skills can qualify you for a mid-level job position in any mega company that adopts cloud technologies.

4. Computer Networking Certification: Computer networking is very important in today’s world. Having computer networking skills means you can design and maintain networks, implement security measures that deter hackers and do troubleshooting. Blending it with your project management skills will enable you to design, implement, and control and manage computer networking projects with an innovative and management approach.

5. Database Certification: Persons with database skills are always in demand. You can choose to pursue a database administrators, database developers, database analysis and architects, data warehousing specialists or some other database management-related certifications. You can also blend your database skills with your project management skills and move up the corporate ladder in your organisation.

6. Mobile App Development Certification: With the high demand for persons with mobile apps development skills, you can boost your job search opportunities in any mega company that’s interested in developing apps or tapping into the huge mobile market. You can blend it with your project management skills, gain more experience and move from being a Mobile Apps Developer to a Mobile Apps Manager.

7. System Administrator Certification: Most of the mega companies listed above have IT departments and where there is an IT department, there is a need for a SysAdmin. In large organizations, the SysAdmin may work with system architects, engineers and designers. Having a system administrator certification shows that you have the skills and essential knowledge necessary to manage the configuration, implementation and maintenance of the organisation’s system. And combined with your project management skills, you might be given a new and higher title as a “SysManager.”

8. Web Analytics Certification: In the past, most companies base their social media marketing analysis and results on assumptions, now they prefer facts. Web analytics is used to extract insights from enormous amounts of web data and these web data can be strategically used to help any mega company achieve its business goals. So, most mega companies who use the web heavily do employ persons who have the skills to analyse their web data and draw insights for marketing and business purposes. Blending your web analytics skills with your project management skills can get you promoted as the company’s Web Analytics Manager.

9. Digital Marketing or Management Certifications: Most companies globally now include digital marketing as part of their total market strategy. Also, a lot of mega companies, most especially the online-based companies, now build several digital projects. So, if you have digital marketing or management skills, that is, you can formulate, plan and execute effective digital marketing campaigns; or you can plan, build and manage digital projects, then these mega companies can employ you as part of their digital marketing or management team. With more experience and blending your digital marketing or management skills with your project management skills, you can work your way to becoming the company’s Digital Project Manager.

10. Human Resources Certification: There is no mega company in the world without a human resources management or a people management department. If you are interested in joining the HR department of any of these mega companies, having a recognised HR certification shows that you have what it takes to provide strategic human resources that are required for effective job performance and human capital management.

11. Information Technology Certification: Most of the mega companies listed above employ persons with core IT skills as most do have an IT department. Get a recognised IT certification which will validate your ability to use a specific technology or perform a particular IT job role, practice and showcase your IT knowledge and skills, get that dream job of yours in their IT department, build your experience, blend it with your project management skills and work your way towards becoming the comapny’s IT Project Manager.

I have listed some skills and certifications that you can use to boost your project management degree and have a successful career. These certifications will help you plan your career and help hiring managers and recruiters know your area of specialty. Most of the certifications listed above are good for anyone targeting to work in the digital, mobile and IT/telecommunications sector.

Your project management skills might not be much relevant at the early stage of your career but as you progress in your field of work, they would become more relevant. I would also not advise you to pursue a “project” management certification at the early stage of your career if you have a bachelor’s degree in project management. Most “project” management certifications would be of more benefit to persons who lack the basic knowledge of project management. You have the basic knowledge, what you need most is PRACTICE. However, if you must pursue a “project” management certification, let it be a certification that would test you on non-waterfall and non-traditional methods such as agile, lean, etc, as your university education was mostly on the waterfall and traditional methods. And do not relax after developing or learning your new skills. You will need to find a way of practising and promoting your new skills.

Originally published at jerryihejirika.com.

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Jerry Ihejirika is the owner of JerryIhejirika.com and creator of Jerry Ihejirika Career School. He teaches project managers how to discover their dream career path or get their dream job in the world of project management. You can get his FREE e-book titled, “6 Steps to Your Career Development in Project Management.”

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