Project Management’s Competitive Edge by Karli Kloss, PACE Cohort 8

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.

The Networking Dance by Cliff Katz, PACE Cohort 7

Podcast BlogSophisticated jazz music hums through the elegant space filled with overdressed and ambitious professionals. You see someone you’d like to approach but you don’t know when the conversation you’re waiting on will finally end, or if it ever will. Nervously, you make eye contact with your target—you’re determined and will do anything to ensure that the next conversation is yours. Finally, with laser-focus, you seize your opportunity the second it appears.

You’ve been in this terrifying situation before: a networking event. To avoid dejectedly walking away with a generic email address and the memory of a wasted conversation, you can alter your strategy to ensure things turn out differently.

Firstly, your goal is to receive a card, not a job offer. An initial project pitch shouldn’t include every deliverable of a major project, so why should your personal pitch be any different?  Your goal is to put your name on your target’s radar and to receive a card or some sort of tangible, personal, information. If you get this small and easy step right, you can prove your capability in a more private setting later; in a packed room a manager will talk to dozens of people and he or she likely won’t remember the specifics you mentioned. Keep the pitch short and memorable. Mention your strongest capacities and then start asking questions.

Secondly, listen. Your potential contact has the answers to every question you might have. Asking a few questions and listening to those answers will give you the information you need to frame yourself to fit their needs. You wouldn’t blindly propose a project to a client, so why would you do the same with yourself?

Thirdly, be human. Do you have shared interests? Did you both attend the same university, or play the same sport? Reach into that personal connection and, again, let the other person talk. Business is personal, and these small hooks can make your brand more memorable.  You’ll show that when a project or task isn’t going 100% as planned, there’ll be chemistry with the people you’ll work with.

Lastly, let the conversation end naturally, and then move on before you talk your way out of a lead. You have more people to meet with and your contact has more potential candidates to speak with. If you’re awarded a card, follow-up immediately that night with a few anecdotes recalling the conversation you had earlier that day.

The sight of a personal reply from your desired contact in your inbox will be worth getting jazzed about. Now it’s time to deliver. For more on networking and project management, listen to our podcast, here.

Recruiting Veterans at M Powered Strategies

Posted in Career Opportunities / Human Resources on April 02, 2013
Erin Bankey, Certified Veteran Recruiter

Erin Bankey, Certified Veteran Recruiter

In these times of sequestration and random budget cuts, M Powered Strategies is looking for ways to “re-source” human capital for the Federal Government. Erin Bankey, Program Manager of MPS’ Professional Apprenticeship for Consulting Excellence (PACE) Program, recently became a Certified Veteran Recruiter (CVR). “I am thrilled to be able to effectively recruit Veterans to our organization,” says Erin. “They bring excellent qualities to the table — leadership, situational awareness, and teamwork — that make for successful consultants.”

The PACE Program is an ideal environment for Veterans looking to enhance their marketable skills and strengthen their civilian resumes. With full-time client engagement, classroom training, and independent business case studies, the program provides a prime opportunity to learn essential consulting skills while earning income immediately. With the ongoing success of the Applied Management Professionals (AMP) Program, and now the PACE Program, M Powered Strategies is focusing more and more on Professional Development, and offering these services to our clients.

For more information, contact Erin Bankey: erin.bankey@mpoweredstrategies.com.