Where do I start when trying to get involved in product management?

I'm looking to learn and get involved in product management. At the moment I have no experience whatsoever, apart from working a couple of years in a sales/marketing role.

There is a lot of information out there on product management but I want to know what you guys would recommend as the best place to start?

What do you wish you had done at the beginning of your career, that you would recommend I do?

4 Replies

The mechanics of making this career move would include suggestions such as getting trained and certified in product management or volunteering to partake in product management tasks at your company.

Some recommend getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA) academic degree as a beneficial step towards a product management position. However, the transition from any position to any role in product management is not about acquiring a new skill set with new responsibilities but is mainly about somewhat of a personality change that is not easy to accomplish in a grown person. Therefore, the move is all about a personal internal change.

You should leave your current position and move into product management roles if you feel challenged and excited by market-think (not product-think) and wish to make uncertain yet possibly very rewarding business decisions that in their very nature are probabilistic and run contrary to deterministic decisions.

My first thoughts to get a Product Manager role (and to be a successful PM).

  • Study some Product Management. This could be self-study, e-learning course, a formal training course with/or without certification.
  • Participate local PM Meetup’s Product Camp’s to get connected and to learn. 
  • Domain expertise is (over) valued by recruiters; try to find product area you are familiar with and/or passionate about. You might have valuable experience of the market as a customer, consumer, via hobby etc.
  • If you don’t land directly to PM then try to get near to customer interface (sales, tech support etc.)

There are a few things that will help you learn more about product management:

I founded Product School to help aspiring product managers who want to break into product management. We currently offer 8-week part-time courses in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and New York. Our instructors are senior-level PMs at top companies such as Google, Facebook, Lyft, Paypal and other startups.

Ali asked a similar question on Roadmap.com.

There are some great answers recommending books to read, courses to take, and events to participate in. I think you will find it helpful.

After spending many years on product teams and having been a product manager myself, the best advice I can give is to find and work on products that you are passionate about. If your goal is simply to become a product manager, I think you are setting yourself up to fail. Instead, pick a few industries that interest you and make it your goal to join a product team in that space. You will be happier spending your time on something you care about, and it will show in your work.