Becoming a Product Manager is intimidating for a lot of people. Whether you are new to the workforce or making a career change, you might be afraid you won’t be able to land a position as a Product Manager. That could not be further from the truth. Anyone can become a Product Manager with the right tools and guidance.
One way of landing your first Product Manager position is through a product management internship. If you have no prior professional work experience or any transferable experience from previous positions, a Product Manager internship may be a good fit for you.
What Does a Product Manager Intern Do?
A Product Manager Intern will be fully immersed in the industry at the company where they’re interning. You’ll get the chance to take on a lot of the same tasks as a Product Manager, from creating product roadmaps to communicating with engineers and designers. You’ll work directly with real Product Managers and have plenty of opportunities for mentorship. Basically, a product management internship is a great way to gain hands-on experience and build your Product Manager resume.
A large part of your product management internship will be conducting user research. After studying and understanding the current user experience, you can suggest improvements to the Product Manager or upper management. A product management internship gives you the opportunity to develop the hard and soft skills you’ll need in a PM role.
Who Is a Product Management Internship Right For?
In most cases, Product Manager internships are a good fit for students looking to get into product management. Or, if you don’t have prior work experience with transferable skills, you might want to start here.
Some internships require applicants to have an undergraduate degree or some technical experience. If you have these credentials, you are set up for the internship — but it’s also likely you could land a Product Manager position without taking on an internship first. A product management training program like Product Gym is a better fit for people with transferable experience.
There are both full-time and part-time Product Manager internships available these days. But as you might imagine, full-time internships tend to be more popular and beneficial to both the intern and the company. The average internship lasts about four months (about the same timeline as a typical college semester) and pays about $23/hour on average. As with any internship, these timelines and salaries will vary from one company to the next.
The bottom line: do your research and consider your work history before applying to any product management internship. Knowing exactly what you want out of the experience and setting a clear goal will help you decide if a PM internship is the best choice for you.
How to Get a Product Management Internship: Step by Step
So you’ve decided a product management internship is right for you. Now, how do you go about landing the position? Here are the steps to become a Product Manager intern:
The first step to landing a product management internship is networking. The ability to communicate with others and form relationships is a crucial skill to have as a Product Manager. Reach out to your school alumni and other people in your academic and professional network. Who do you know in product management, or in a PM-adjacent role? Do you know anyone working for a company where you would like to intern?
If you don’t have an in with any established connections, build some. Find Recruiters and Human Resource Managers on LinkedIn and introduce yourself. Express confidence and a willingness to learn when networking.
2. Finding Product Management Internship Jobs
If you are a student, the easiest and most effective way to find internship opportunities is by talking with your school’s career development department. They often have connections with companies that are looking for interns.
If you are not a student, start by searching online job boards. Many people find internship opportunities on LinkedIn or Indeed. You can filter your search for internship opportunities only to avoid sifting through other Product Manager openings.
Another way to search for product management internship jobs is on specific company sites. If you know of a company you would like to intern for, go to their website and look at their job openings. You may even find an Associate Product Manager position you qualify for.
3. Update Your Resume
If you’re applying for a Product Manager Intern position, it might be because you don’t think that you have the necessary skills to become a Product Manager. It’s possible that you simply don’t know how to position the experience and skills you do have.
Update your Product Manager resume to highlight your relevant and transferable skills. While creating your skills chart and updating your work experience, you may come to realize you’re more qualified for product management than you thought. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our step-by-step playbook on how to land a PM job with no experience.
3.5 Get Your Resume Reviewed by a Professional
You’ve updated your resume and formatted it to whiz through the ATS: congratulations! But if you want to go above and beyond to impress the Recruiter and Hiring Manager, take some time to get your resume reviewed by a professional.
A fresh set of eyes may catch typos and grammar errors, but will also be able to point out the areas where you can improve the wording, format, and strategy behind your resume. A Product Manager who’s gone through the gruelling job hunt and landed their dream role on the other side is going to be able to assess your resume from the perspective of the Recruiter and use their experience to help you polish it.
At Product Gym, our career coaches review our members’ resumes and full branding package as the first step of the program. They offer insight, constructive criticism, and tips on how to make your resume stand out before you start sending out applications.
Because we’ve been working with Product Manager job hunters for the past five years, we’ve had ample opportunity to test and perfect the resume template we share with our members. We’ve even compiled the top Product Manager skills and applicable bullet points to include on your resume to demonstrate your transferable knowledge and beat the ATS.
Take a look at your work experience and the skill-set you bring to the table. You may want to send out your revamped resume to companies hiring for Product Managers (check out our exclusive PM job board to see what’s out there). If you’re a student looking to get a jump on the competition, or if you have no transferrable experience, be sure to maximize the internships you apply for! Remember, applying is a numbers game. You don’t want to cherry-pick what roles you go for: all you earn with that strategy is less options.
Kick-Start Your Product Manager Career
The truth is, you do not need experience as a Product Manager to get started in this industry. If you are reconsidering your need for an internship and are interested in looking into Product Manager positions, schedule a free call with one of our Product Gym career coaches. Find out how your previous work experience can translate into a successful career in product management. We’d be happy to answer any questions you still have.