We are back with the second issue of our high-income skills series.
Last week, we discussed how you can benefit from data analysis skills, even if you aren’t pursuing a career as a data analyst. In the comment section, Cathyann Martin emphasized the link between data analysis and good communication, saying that “being able to share the findings from the data in non-technical terms, so that others can understand and use it to make decisions, is important.”
This is a great point; it highlights how your technical skills and workplace skills can interact with and enhance one another. Project management, our topic for this week, is another technical skill that is boosted by several workplace skills.
Project managers incorporate many tools and processes into their workflow, but their ultimate goal is to get things done, and they do this with strong organization, persuasion, negotiation, and risk management skills. For a practical explanation of this skill set, watch the first lecture video of the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate.
If you have strong project management skills, then you’re a planner.
You see the big picture and are able to identify the tasks and people that will enable you to achieve your desired outcome. You strategically navigate roadblocks while keeping everyone involved happy. Most importantly, you are a finisher. If you commit to doing something, you will get it done or find a reasonable alternative.
Here are some ways you can (and maybe already do) flex your project management muscles:
1. Concentrate your organizational efforts into one place.
Perhaps you use a calendar or to-do lists to stay on track. Take your organization a step further by consolidating your thoughts, tasks, and deadlines into a single, shareable source of information, such as a spreadsheet. This exercise showcases your ability to manage goals and collaborate.
Get a sense for how project managers organize their efforts with Guided Projects that help you create a project management tracker and create a simple Gantt chart. Both projects take about two hours to complete and will leave you with a reusable template for your future planning needs.
2. Practice managing projects in your everyday life.
Managing the needs of others, effectively communicating, and making decisions are key project management concepts, and they also tend to show up in daily life. Next time you’re asked to make a decision, tune into your inner project manager.
For example, when you’re asked “What do you want to eat?” consider:
- Risk management: How much longer can the vegetables in your refrigerator last? Prioritize accordingly or run the risk of wilted produce.
- Budgeting: Want to eat out for under $15 per person? You can rule out everything that exceeds that budget.
- Communication: Share your selection with the person who posed the question. Offer your reasoning to get them on board with your decision (also called stakeholder alignment) and draw upon your negotiation skills as needed.
Where to begin
If you’re new to project management, start with the first course in the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate, Foundations of Project Management. Here, you’ll get an overview of the skill set, and if you enjoy the course, you can continue on to earn a certificate.
For a crash course, check out Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management from the University of Virginia. This is another popular choice that condenses the basics into a single 9-hour course.
For specialized applications of project management, you may be interested in IBM’s IT Project Manager Professional Certificate, Columbia University’s Construction Management Specialization, or IBM’s DevOps and Software Engineering Professional Certificate. IT, construction, and software development are all in-demand career paths that tend to incorporate project management tools and techniques into their workflow.
Let us know any other courses you’ve taken to grow your project management skills in the comments. Next week, we’ll continue this series with another high-income skill, user experience.
See you then!