In a city like Washington DC, where many recent graduates are academically overqualified but professionally
underprepared, the barriers to employment can be extremely challenging. Young professionals are eager to learn but are often caught in the paradoxical loop of not having enough work experience for an entry-level position.
In a recent article for the Project Management Institute, Novid Parsi discusses alternative ways recent graduates and young professionals can stand out when they enter the job market. Among them is one particular skill that they can develop outside of an actual job or internship: project management. Experience with project management is very appealing to prospective employers, and it can be gained in a variety of ways. College students or young professionals can manage projects through societies they belong to, or volunteer organizations. A student who has ever organized a volunteer effort on behalf of his fraternity, or a recent graduate who plans events for her local alumni chapter—they have project management experience.
For those who want to go the extra mile and truly demonstrate passion and experience with project management, a single certification can go a long way. Most young professionals won’t qualify for a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification this early in their careers, but there are other options that can turn acceptable experience into outstanding.
At M Powered Strategies, the Professional Apprenticeship for Consulting Excellence (PACE) Program, combines many of these elements into a rigorous 25-week program. PACErs work full-time on client delivery, but take on many more responsibilities while they are here. They are assigned corporate projects, or frequently design and execute new corporate initiatives within the company. They attend weekly trainings, conduct an independent business case, and receive an ANSI-accredited certification.
Whether PACErs continue at MPS as full-time staff, or follow a different path after their 25 weeks, they have been trained from many directions on how to be effective project managers. These skills will serve them well as young professionals, but more than that, these skills will set them up for success as they move towards management positions and continue to grow in their careers.