In high school, volunteer for leadership positions on the student council, school newspaper, and various clubs (especially business or entrepreneurism) to obtain experience managing others, solving problems, and making decisions.
Participate in summer exploration programs that are offered by the National Student Leadership Conference, including its Mastering Leadership and Business Intensive programs. Visit https://www.nslcleaders.org for more information.
The Project Management Institute provides a variety of resources at its Web site (https://www.pmi.org) that will help students learn more about the field. Additionally, check out its Official PMI Blog (https://community.pmi.org/blogs/722102/The-Official-PMI-Blog) to learn about the challenges and rewards of working in project management.
Participate in information interviews with project managers to learn how to prepare for and prosper in the field. Perhaps you could even arrange to job shadow a project manager to see what daily life is like for people in this career.
Project managers oversee projects of all sizes—from improving an organization’s Web site, to increasing the number of services provided by an urgent care clinic, to managing the construction of a 100-story skyscraper. Regardless of the size of a project, there are four project phases of a project life cycle (initiation, planning, execution/monitoring, and closing)—although some organizations have fewer or more steps in their project life cycles.
In this stage, a problem, need, or business or organizational opportunity is identified by stakeholders. The project manager conducts a feasibility study that outlines the staff, costs, time, equipment needs, and other resources that are necessary to start the project. They also create a statement of work that details the project’s objectives, scope, and deliverables so that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding the project goals and expected outcomes.
After the project is approved, the project manager breaks down the larger project into smaller tasks that can be completed in a specific time frame. They assess the skills and educational backgrounds of staff and assign members to different work teams. Then the project manager creates a project plan (that lists the project timeline and its various phases, the tasks to be performed, and possible challenges to completing the work), prepares a budget and financial plan that details how much the work/project resources will cost, and assesses any risks (operational, financial, etc.) that may affect the project and builds in contingencies to address these issues should they arise. Before the start of the project, the manager holds a project kickoff meeting with the organization’s executives and team members to outline the project’s goals, timeline, and other details and address any questions or concerns from team members.
The various teams begin working on the project. The project manager makes sure that individual team deadlines are met, organizes and manages team leaders, addresses any problems that arise, and ensures that the work is done according to the original plan (and makes changes to the plan, if necessary). As the project proceeds, the project managers creates new tasks, work teams, and deadlines; manages the budget; provides updates to stakeholders; and continues to monitor all aspect of the project until every goal is met.
Once the work teams have completed their assignments, the project manager supervises the release of final deliverables and conducts an assessment to determine the success of the project (asking questions such as "Did the project come in on-budget and on-time?" and "How did each team perform?"). They often prepare a report for key stakeholders that summarizes work on the project and spotlights any areas that need improvement in order to avoid similar challenges on future projects.