To become a product manager, I had to first ascertain what transferrable skills I had that would be relevant in product management and was ready to develop new ones that I did not yet have.
In this article, I will take you on a step-by-step journey from where I started as a novice to where I am now as an Associate Product Manager at The Zig.
What I see you learning from this article is how to immerse yourself in the world of product management and how to work your way into getting your first PM job.
My first introduction to tech was when I joined Facebook Developer Circle Lagos in 2017. I began to familiarize myself with the tech lingo and sentiments, enough for me to hold meaningful conversations about tech.
It was in the developer community that I first heard about Product Management, and better understood that building tech solutions entail more than writing codes. I became interested in work that centered on product.
A friend in the tech community reached out to me about an idea of starting a tech blog to celebrate outstanding people in the Nigerian tech community.
I loved the 'start from scratch' part of the idea and jumped right in. And for every article I wrote, I monitored the analytics and was laser-focused on increasing the number of daily active readers.
Over time, I got better at research and SEO and was able to get the blog to rank for the keywords 'Tech Meetups in Nigeria". This was a feat for me!
Two years into SEO content writing and also getting actively involved in the tech community, my hunger to work on an outright tech product increased.
I got a job as a product trainer for a Fintech product that was just getting early adopters, and I trained various sets of sales agents from this time to when we achieved product-market-fit.
What I enjoyed the most is how I worked cross-functionally with the product team, sales team, customer service team, fraud investigation team, and the auditing team.
The data-driven feedback I got from my training sessions and from interfacing with customers gave the product team the needed insight to improve the product for customers. This meant a lot to me!
In my previous role as a product trainer, I got very much interested in solving customer problems, and liked how busy the Product Manager got on his quest to finding ways to improve the product for them.
When the lockdown happened in March, I utilized the opportunity to enroll in a product class that spanned till June. I didn't have any clear plans at the time on how I was going to transition but I just was getting ready.
In the same month of June, my company shut down my department and some others, and let everyone go. I made a tweet on my last day of work, asking to be recommended for the role of an Associate Product Manager.
I got it! Following my tweet, there were kind strangers who referred me, sent me job links to apply for, and also tagged me in job-opening tweets.
A friend recommended me for my current job at The Zig, and a big friend sent a referral for me to apply for the Facebook Rotational Product Manager role. This was how I came across these resources that will help you prepare for your PM interview:
1. Cracking the PM interview, by Gayle McDowell.
2. Decode and Conquer, by Lewis C. Lin.
3. You can Join the PM Interview Practice Community on slack to get partners to have mock interviews with.
4. Feel free to subscribe to the Exponent YouTube Channel and Binge-watch mock interviews focused on Product Sense and Product Execution.
5. If you are interested in applying for an APM or PM role at any of the top tech companies at Silicon Valley, and would like to keep up with recruitment conversations or recommendations, then download Blind.
Product management is an interesting field for life-long learners and I'm excited I finally got on this journey. While there is no universal path to becoming a PM, I hope that you are able to learn a thing or two from my journey, especially figuring what transferable skills you have.
In case you would like to enroll in a product school or join some PM communities, here is a link to my previous article on Entry Level Resources for Becoming a Product Manager.
Perhaps I have gotten you interested in the Associate Rotational Product Manager Program, you can click here for the very top class ones to apply for.
There is never a perfect time to start, so you might as well start now. Thanks for reading up to this point.
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Status Labs | Undraw.