Product Buds
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Product Buds

From Product Bud to Product Manager

How a community built by strangers led me to my dream job

At the beginning of my coding bootcamp, my Lyft driver asked the classic question: “So, what do you want to do when you graduate?”

Discovering Product Management

I told him I wasn’t sure yet because I had just started the program but I knew that I wanted to become a “UX Developer” of sorts. This was my best attempt at explaining what someone who is focused on the the user experience of software with the programming skills to complete the process of thinking about a product holistically would be called.

I had gotten incredibly passionate about UI/UX my senior spring of college. However, the process of thinking about the user needs only to the point of designing the mockups left me feeling unfinished. I started teaching myself how to code in the fall so that I would have the technical skills to make a picture into a product myself. I also began to learn more entrepreneurship, startups, and e-commerce trying to understand deeper how things earn a profit and market appropriately.

Little did I know that all of those skills come together in a role I didn’t yet have the words for: Product Management.

Discovering Product Buds

Luckily, about the time that I started asking around for how to become a “UX Developer”, a group of strangers started populating my LinkedIn feed with posts about “Product Management”, whatever that was. I decided to look into it and the more that I did, the more I knew that I had found what I was looking for. That group of strangers and their posts quickly became what is now Product Buds because of an incredibly high interest in having a community of people and resources to learn about a role that has no college degree, cookie cutter path, or even the same job description at different companies.

When the co-founders of Product Buds (Grace, David, Henrika, and Milap) posted a link to participate in this newfound Slack community, I joined immediately. I felt incredibly blessed to have an answer to what the “UX Developer” I wanted to be was called but also to have so many other people on the same path, ambitious and ready to collaborate on projects and book discussions to increase our knowledge and preparation to break into product.

Getting Involved in the Best Community

Since I was in class 9 hours a day plus homework, exams, and projects, I knew I that I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to join in on the bookclub, as exciting as the titles are. I did want to be able to flex those design skills I had been away from since graduating from university so I looked into the Project Jam. I found a team that was “chill” after communicating in the partner finder Slack channel that I’ll have limited availability. By the end of the summer, I made new friends; learned more about teamwork, communication, and organization; and got to get some experience with the whole design process, from idea, to user research, pivoting, iteration, feedback, user testing, and presentation.

Alongside being a Project Jam participant, my activity in the Slack channel set me up to be a great candidate when the founders decided to take on more organizing team members. I participated in discussions, worked on a logo for this new pandemic product initiative, and gave shoutouts to all the co-founders for their incredible work in filling a need for so many. I was already such a super fan 2 weeks and had been thinking to myself that it would be such a blessing if I were able to contribute even more to the community. Some would call it fate but the very same day that I began to ideate around how to get more involved, the #announcements channel lit up with a call for content creators. I applied and the rest is history.

Screenshot of my fan girl message to the Product Buds team before the days of also becoming an organizer

Building Experience from Product Buds Initiatives

After joining the ‘eboard’, I was able to have meaningful input on our future direction and decisions, help with design and copy of our site, gather contributors to our publication, and start initiatives to make our community more accessible and inclusive, especially for underrepresented folks in tech.

I’ve attended our events as the unofficial hype person (you can call it community engagement) and even had the honor of helping co-host one of my own on OKRs. I’ve met amazing mentors and mock interview partners who set me up for success faster than any crash course could ever by giving me feedback on my ideas, areas for improvement, and accomplishments. Having mock interview practice throughout the week with members of our community and learning so much from industry professionals at our live events on the weekend, alongside working on a really cool project with other aspiring Product Managers, took me from “What is a PM?” to “What do I learn today at my job as a PM?” in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Thank You PB

I can never thank the team enough for creating, cultivating, and continuing this incredible community of kind, driven, inspiring people of product. I’ve had experiences I couldn’t even dream of with people all over the globe through a screen during a global pandemic because they saw a need, tested a solution, and grew exponentially from there, like the Product Managers they’ve created. In just a few months, I went from confused, to candidate, to coworker all thanks to our organizers, community members, mentors, sponsors, supporters, and friends.

Product Buds is a place where budding Product Managers sprout, grow, flourish. I guess you could say in this case sprout, grow, Phyllis.

Resources:

Product Buds aims to be a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment for aspiring Product Managers of all social and cultural identities, as well as educational and career backgrounds to sprow, grow, and flourish. If you’d like to be a part of Product Buds, please join! and follow them on LinkedIn to keep up with the great initiatives, events, and posts by our team.

Read the founding story

Product Buds Wiki on Notion

Product Buds Official Medium

View past event recordings

Thank you so much for being a part of our journey as we all sprout, grow, and flourish as a blooming community.

Designed by Benjamin Allan-Rahill for Product Buds

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Product Buds aims to be a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment for aspiring Product Managers of all social and cultural identities, as well as educational and career backgrounds.

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Phyllis

Phyllis

Product manager | Leading with empathy.

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