So you want to be a project manager?

A friend of a friend email me the other day about becoming a project manager. I talked with her in more detail over the phone, but here's hit list of pros and cons I sent her.  Hopefully, I didn't scare her off. The world needs good project managers. Pros

  1. It's a good way to understand and get involved in every aspect of a project. I would basically do anything to get the project done from copy writing to programming. As a PM, you are exposed to and gain a lot of experience that others don't such as a programmer or designer. It keeps things interesting.
  2. The PM position is a good stepping stone. Because you know all the ins and outs, you can move into a number of management positions. After 5 years as a PM, I was able to move into a product management position which I really enjoy. Like with every position, you need to have good project management skills to succeed. The experience has and will continue to help my career no matter what path it takes.
  3. You are the one with all the answers (even if you don't know them). It's nice to be the person in the know. Also being in the know gives you exposure to pretty much everyone within the company from the CEO on down to the IT person who installs software. You will make many more friend than enemies.

Cons

  1. No one reports to you directly. This is not necessarily at bad thing (no annual reviews), but you have to use a more "indirect" way to get things done. This can be exhausting especially in dealing with a difficult or under-performing team member.
  2. You are there from the beginning to end. It's your responsibility to carry the project through it's completion. This can weigh heavily on you especially when things beyond your control go wrong (a difficult client). Once I had to run across midtown Manhattan (in 90 degree weather) to buy a scanner at CompUSA to order to scan hundred of product labels that needs to go into a site the following week.
  3. Everyone dumps on you. Since you are the nexus of the project, everyone will come to you with them problems. Again, this can weigh heavily on you as you end up solving problems (personal, family, etc.) that are totally unrelated to the project. On occasion, I've had people break down crying in the middle of a status meeting.