What I Wish I Knew as a Non-Technical Major Breaking Into PM

Christina Gee
The Startup
Published in
7 min readAug 18, 2020

Advice from business major, an ex-Microsoft and Affirm Product Manager

Advice for breaking into Product Management

Looking back on my journey into product management, my biggest hurdle to overcome was actually getting the interview. It’s quite common to see on a PM job description “Computer Science degree required,” but after talking to several PMs and now being a PM myself, I can confidently say that while most PM roles require technical experience, it’s not actually necessary to be a great PM. You just need to be curious about how the technology works. Being a PM is like being an architect of a house: you understand and set the vision of how the general construction of the house is going to be built, without having to understand how to use a chainsaw. Similarly, PMs need to understand the technology of the product and how it runs without having to know how to code.

At the core, PMs are problem solvers. If you are having trouble breaking into product, then let’s tap into your creative problem solving skills and prove you have what it takes to get your foot in the door.

One of the key components of breaking into product is to have relevant experience on your resume:

  • Do you talk to customers?
  • Are you analytical?
  • Are you results oriented?
  • Can you work cross functionally with team members?
  • Are you scrappy and can solve problems with little to no costs required?
  • Can you prioritize tasks and effectively communicate why you did so?

These are all relevant skills recruiters look for in a PM resume that you can still get working in a non-Product Manager job.

Once you have your resume in place it’s time to get your foot in the door. The best way to do so is by leverage the power of your network to get a referral. On average, for every open PM job listing 300 people will apply. That’s a 0.3% acceptance rate, making it harder to apply for a PM job than it is to get into Harvard! Stack the odds in your favor. Reach out to alumni from your school, ask friends of friends to help make intros to companies you want to apply to or…

Christina Gee
The Startup

Product @affirm | Prev: @Microsoft @Babson