I have been wanting to get back into blogging for quite some time. As you can tell the more recent blog posts have been transcription episodes of the podcast. Since I’ve had several people reach out to me on LinkedIn to learn more about how I broke into product management, I’d like to write more about the process and my experience thus far.
My writing muscles are quite rusty, but there’s no time like the present to get back into it. And the only way to get better at something/become familiar with it again is to actually do it.
Becoming a product manager was something I never actively sought out. Like many people who became product managers, I stumbled into it.
Becoming a product manager or wanting to become a product manager came as a complete surprise to me. However, after having spent several years in entrepreneurship, trying out different projects, trying to grow my business, I felt it was time to go back to full-time work. I was in a funk with my business. It wasn’t growing, but then again I wasn’t really putting a lot of effort into during its last couple of years. I found myself being drawn to work on other things such as co-authoring a book that shared the story of my fitness journey thus far and launching a social venture. I didn’t have the drive or discipline to move forward with it. The only way I thought I could scale was to create online courses, but after having created one, I didn’t have the energy to create more.
To be honest, I really missed earning a steady paycheque.
In the beginning was just randomly searching for jobs. I had no idea what I wanted to do. This was early 2020 just before the pandemic. I applied for random jobs with the title of business analyst or content creator. Due to having the several lockdowns, I was quite productive with recording and publishing episodes with my podcast. I also took up a new hobby, road cycling, which I actually really got into and still keep it up. I even train during the off-season on a trainer using Zwift.
When it comes to career changes, I have gone through several. I’ve written a blog post providing some straightforward no BS advice. I worked in pharma. I’ve worked for the government. I’ve been an instructor for a post-secondary institution. I even had a (very) brief stint as a personal trainer.
When I stumbled upon product management opportunities on remote job sites and LinkedIn. The wheels began to turn in my head. I casually mentioned it to my friend Kevin (Ep. 009) and (Ep. 010-which is a blooper) about how I think I would like to break into product management.
His response, “ Yeah, I could see you as a product manager.” (or something like that)
That what all I needed to be motivated. At the time, I knew 0 product managers, so he graciously connected me to a couple from his network. Not only that, he spent a significant amount of time helping me revamp my resume.
And like an eager beaver, I applied away and got rejected right away because I had no direct product management experience. I felt I was able to check off the “has entrepreneurial sense/ entrepreneurial spirit” requirement, but clearly that was not enough.
I had one interview, which I completely bombed. I did, however continue to network and tell people that I was looking to break into product management.
Someone has mentioned getting a certification from Product School.
Took an accelerated course where it was 1 week. We learned a lot of theory, went through case studies and did group activities together. There was also even a hackathon, which my team won (!) – our instructor commended us on our presentation skills.
After adding that certification on my resume, I had a few more interviews, but continued to get rejected.
To be honest, I felt it wasn’t until I did my 5 week internship as a product manager with Co.Lab that I got a taste of what it was like to be product manager. I led a cross-functional team of two developers and one designer to launch a pretty cool MVP.
I have started a draft of my experience in Co.Lab and now looking back in hindsight, I really should have taken the time to write more reflections. There was a LOT to do in 5 weeks, so getting that MVP off the ground in time for demo day was my focus.
A Small Dose of Reality
Way back in 2015, while I was slogging away at my dreaded government job, I had entertained the idea of becoming a software developer. I had taken a few coding workshops via Ladies Learning Code, now known as Canada Learning Code. I also enrolled in a part-time web development course with Lighthouse Labs. After completing the course, I strongly considered quitting my job and enrolling in a coding bootcamp. I was thisclose to signing up, but then I was beginning to have my doubts. Even though product management wasn’t on my radar back then, I was in love with the startup world and the idea of working in tech related role
If you have been thinking about transitioning into product management, think about the why and not just about the high earning potential. I’ve been at my role at an ecommerce startup for almost a year and a half. While I love the work I do, my core team, my colleagues and the company overall, I find it to be quite challenging, but in a good way. There is a lot of problem solving and trouble shooting, processing info, and then re-processing when the info changes/ you’ve been given additional info.
Some Food For Thought
We know hindsight is 20/20. Looking back on my unconventional career path, yet again, I like to think that all of these things (constantly ideating and launching products) were pointing me in the direction of product management and giving me the skills needed for this industry.
I’m a naturally curious person. I’m always asking questions.
I’m constantly thinking about ideas and how they can be executed.
I’m an action-taker. I like to learn. I feel the best way to learn is by doing.
Not to sound somewhat meta, but really I liked the idea of bringing an idea to life.
Only very recently, I came to the realization that my podcast was also planting some seeds for my product management garden.
This is the tagline:
“This is the podcast where a bit of business and a byte of technology come together.
Well, I’ll be damned.
If you prefer to listen about the product management journey of others and the importance of practical experience:
A Couple of Product Management Related Podcast Episodes
Lena’s interview Ep. 034 – Lena Sesardic: Build Stuff That Solves Your Own Problems