As a business student, you’ll want to know what roles are open to you in the world of work. Fortunately, this is a course of study where there are lots of different options available after you graduate. From upskilling to become a lawyer, to working in human resources or executive management, this degree gives you the chance to take your higher education qualification and fit into the career you want later down the line, rather than having to decide your entire future after your high school exams.
One of the options available to you as a business graduate is to become a project manager. As the name suggests, this person is responsible for managing and running projects within a company, ensuring that they come in on time and on budget. They will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that everyone is aligned about the project objectives, and in some cases, act as the point of contact between the project team and the client.
Many project managers choose to undertake an additional qualification such as PRINCE-2, or an Association for Project Management (APM) or Project Management Institute (PMI) certification. But a business degree is a great starting point to get you into the sector. Let’s look at why.
In business, you need to be happy working with multiple teams. No matter what role you hold, whether it’s CEO or business manager, you’ll need to speak to a whole range of people on a daily basis. Your business degree will set you up for this, by teaching you all the different aspects of running a business, so that you’re familiar with the general purpose of all teams.
This comes in handy as a project manager too. Your role will be to successfully bring multiple teams together to produce a result – so you’ll need to be happy jumping between conversations and tasks. An overview of what different people do can also be beneficial for understanding what is a reasonable request, and what is out of their remit. It also means you may be able to answer general client questions without having to go to the teams every time, which can increase your sense of authority and trustworthiness.
Part of the challenge of being a project manager is making everyone happy – it’s almost impossible. Someone wants one thing, faster; another person wants more time to complete tasks. Or, you have to balance capacity across various projects to make sure that every client is getting a fair amount of work delivered. It can be demanding, and it often involves having hard conversations and compromising.
This is also true for business. Your suppliers will want more money, you want to pay less, your customers want things faster and you’re battling the supply chain. The negotiation and communication skills you learn in your degree course will be transferable to a role as a project manager, helping you to stay calm under pressure.
Most business degrees will offer students the opportunity to spend a year in industry, honing the skills they’re developing in their studies. If you think you may be interested in a career as a PM after graduation, looking for related roles during your placement year will help to prepare you for the world of work.
As well as being able to learn more about the day-to-day responsibilities of a PM, you’ll also have the chance to start building up a network of professional contacts that you may be able to lean on for support as you set out on your career. Employers typically look favourably upon candidates who have gained experience in a professional setting, so tying a placement year in with your business degree could open more doors post-graduation.
Things in business don’t always go to plan. Mistakes are made, people move jobs, clients cancel or products don’t turn up looking like they’re supposed to. In order to be successful, you need to be resilient, quick to adapt, uncomfortable with uncertainty and quick thinking. The same skills are relevant for a project management role. Especially if you’re working in a fast-paced agency or consultancy environment, the road to success is never smooth.
You’ll need to be able to think outside the box and come up with new solutions to remove blockers and get the project moving again. Your business knowledge may help here, allowing you to consider options out of the immediate team you’re working with to understand where others may be able to support.
It’s clear that there are many transferable skills that you cover in your business degree course of study that would be beneficial for a project management role. If you’re interested in a future in this sector, look for work experience or graduate schemes that will allow you to get the experience of working as a project manager, before committing to a further qualification.