The role of Project Coordinator was on Scott’s mind recently, so he replied to one of my Project Management Career Coaching issues with this:
I am currently going to school for Project Management and have really enjoyed reading your daily emails. I am currently a Manufacturing Supervisor at a small company. My goal is to become a full fledged Project Manager shortly after I graduate. I read one of your more recent posts about how you wanted to change industries and how you were able to get a job as a Project Coordinator.
I have a company that I have been targeting for some time but I do not have a way of getting to know any of the workers because it is a different industry that I am currently in and I have no connections to the company. I found out that they are hiring two different positions for Project Coordinators and I am trying to decide if it is worth the risk to try to make the move now as opposed to after I graduate.
The position I am in right now … makes it hard to get experience in managing even small projects. It is a small company so I have come to terms with the fact that if I want to advance in my career I either have to leave or wait for someone to retire.
My main question is: do you think that a Project Coordinator job is a good starting point for an aspiring Project Manager? Or do you think that it would be more beneficial to stay where I am at for another year and gain more employee management experience.
I am sure that you are very busy so I would like to thank you in advance for any advise you can give me on this problem.
Thanks for the email Scott!
The Project Coordinator Role
So what is a project coordinator? The role of a project coordinator is not the same across all organizations, and while it will fit into most strategic career paths in my view, it’s not necessarily the case. It really depends on the industry and organization…but as a general rule, a project coordinator role is a good stepping-stone into a project management role.
First, it indicates a level of PM maturity in the organization. Second, it will give you exposure to ‘the world of managing projects’ at that organization, and you’ll be in the middle of everything, if my experience was any guide.
On getting connected with people in that industry and even company, I cover that in course # 2 of my online project management training program – In general though, you can use sites like LinkedIn to reach out and start to build relationships with these folks if you go about it tactfully and respectfully. Don’t underestimate the ability of a networking tool like LinkedIn to result in face-to-face contacts and the opportunity to make friends and build relationships over time.
It’s not a microwave process though…it’s a crock-pot expectation for results. It’s going to take some time. Not forever, but you never stop either. It’s ongoing.
Some people find themselves in a small company and want to move into something bigger. Then when you’ve gained experience from the resources of that larger company, sometimes staying there is best, and sometimes you have gained the experience that if you wanted to go back into a small company, you can bring the expertise with you and help grow that small company.
If I were you, I’d want to interview for the Project Coordinator position, even if I didn’t think I’d take it. It will give you valuable interview experience and an opportunity to ask lots of great questions about how they run projects at that company. I’ve found that showing sincere interest by asking smart questions like this can do a ton for your chances of
- getting hired
- building relationships within the company
Treat the job opportunity as a conversation, a networking opportunity to meet some great people and learn a lot about their work. It’s the best approach I’ve found to the process of applying and interviewing for positions, Project Coordinator or otherwise. It removes much of the stress normally associated with the process and turns it into an enjoyable conversation instead.
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