Eight reasons to become a project manager?

I happened upon an article over the weekend titled “8 reasons to consider moving into project management“. The site happens to be a SaaS vendor for project management tools, so it makes sense that they’d encourage people to enter the profession. Even so, the case for some of these seems pretty slim. I’m hardly a leading expert on project management, but I have some experience and education in the field, so I do have some opinions on the matter. Since I’m in a particularly saucy mood, I thought I’d reply to their reasons.

Learn New Skills

This applies to any new job. Sure, project managers have to converse in a variety of technical domains as well as to business leaders, but that doesn’t mean you’re learning much more than a new vocabulary. Frankly, if you’re not learning new skills in your current job, what are you even doing?

Make Contacts

Get yelled at by people all over the org chart! Protip for aspiring project managers: make contacts and then move into project management. Nothing helps you get tasks accomplished like having friends all over the organization.

Get Some Variety

You never know what will blow up in your face today! Maybe your star analyst will win the lottery. Maybe the CEO will change the project requirements 75% of the way through. Maybe your developers forgot to tell you about this problem they had that’s about to set your schedule back three months.

Open Up Your Career Horizons

Okay, this one’s harder to snark. It’s really hard to know what’s available until you know what’s available. This ties into the “make contacts” argument, though, so I’ll deduct half a point for that.

See an End Product

“…seeing your ideas become reality.” More like seeing someone else’s ideas become a reality. If the organizational culture is such that everyone feels a sense of ownership in whatever widget goes out the door, this point is irrelevant. If the organizational culture is not this way, it should be.

Lead a Team

Leading a team is awesome, unless it isn’t. People who are not well-suited for leadership roles (or who otherwise are, but have no desire to be in such a role), are less happy when in leadership positions, and the team probably suffers for that as well.

Work Flexibly

Get home at a different time every night! I’ll give credit to the author for pointing out that you will probably work more hours. But you can sometimes spend time driving, so yay? Plenty of organizations are warming to the idea of allowing employees of many positions to work flexible hours.

Become More Confident

Only a minority of projects come in under budget, on time, and fully-featured. The success rate can be as low as 11% (Tichy and Bascom, 2008). If failure builds your confidence, swing away. Otherwise, you’d better be really good at finding the moral victories.

Project management is not for everyone. It can be a very demanding field, especially in organizations where the project manager is not given the resources to lead the project appropriately. I’m all for people pursuing whatever career they want, but this article paints a far-too-rosy picture. All of the points listed are potential benefits, but they only work out that way if you’re interested in project management to begin with. Otherwise, there are much less stressful ways to get what you want.

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