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How to Get into Product Management as a Recent College Graduate

Many students are aspiring Product Managers. However, getting into Product Manager is difficult right after college as it requires juggling different skills, from business to technical skills. Learning how to get into product management as a recent graduate is tough, especially given the competitive environment for the role.

Colleges do not offer courses that directly teach product management, which only makes it harder to learn more about. What students or grads usually have to do if they want to work as a Product Manager is to take the first step themselves.

Here are the steps you can take to develop the skillset you need to start applying for Product Manager jobs seriously as a new grad.

How to Get into Product Management: Skills Development

You don’t need to work as a Product Manager to start developing product management skills. The role requires a combination of hard skills and soft skills that you can start tackling as a recent graduate, or even while still in school. 

For a full breakdown on product management skills that will help you land the job — and how to develop them — check out this video:

To get you started, here are four skills you can develop to help your transition into product management as a new grad.

1. Coding

Students need to develop certain skills while in college in order to prepare themselves for a PM role. One important skill to have as a student wondering how to get into product management is coding.

You can take online coding classes or other coding education opportunities in order to build your coding skills. Then you can practice making your own website or app. If a Product Manager understands how coding works, they can form a better understanding of how engineers work. With this, they can set accurate estimations for deadlines and expectations.

2. UX Design

UX Design is another important skill to learn in order to set yourself up for how to get into product management. One way to practice this is by critiquing products online. You could even start a blog focused on your critiques so you can spread your online presence. Ask yourself: why did this product fail in certain aspects? How can you improve it? Figure out who might buy this product and their thoughts while buying this product. 

3. Leadership Skills

Leadership skills are also a great skill to develop while in college. Get more involved in group projects. Mediate ideas, organize deadlines, and set goals to practice. You might even start a club — or join one and obtain a leadership role. By managing groups of people, you can gain first-hand experience with leadership and learn how to inspire and motivate people. Developing leadership skills will help you inspire and lead your team efficiently.

4. Market Knowledge

Stay up to date on trends that are happening currently in the world. Understand the market and adapt to it because the market won’t change for you. This may help you develop more insights into how a product should be built according to user behavior. Some useful ways to keep up to date on the market are blogs and newsletters. Or search through tech news.

How to Get into Product Management: Know the Hiring Process

Building your skillset is important, but you also need to get yourself ready for the interviews. There are many skills that product managers will need to have, but you will not be able to master all of them. Product managers have their own strengths and weaknesses and you don’t need to excel in everything to be a great Product Manager.

Interviews for Product Managers are not your usual interviews. There are usually four rounds before you can get the actual offer, with different types of questions leading each round. This lengthy process only makes it harder to get the role. That’s where Product Gym comes in.

How Career Coaching Can Help You Get into Product Management

At Product Gym, our career coaches apply a simple four-step framework to land our members the Product Manager job they’re looking for. With this structure and the support of the PG community, both aspiring and veteran PMs have increased the number of calls they receive for interviews. The process also leads to more interviews converted into offers.

Here’s how the magic works:

1. Optimize

From the best techniques for writing a cover letter to building an attractive Product Manager resume, the first step our coaches focus on boosting your credibility and professional branding. We’ll help you optimize your application with:

  • A resume designed to beat the ATS
  • A cover letter that shows your culture fit
  • An optimized LinkedIn profile that aligns with the above
  • A 30-second personal pitch that sells you as the best possible candidate

At Product Gym, we provide branding workshops, resume reviews, and the tools you need to take your professional branding to the next level.

2. Apply

Product Gym members apply for 20+ Product Manager jobs weekly, and often average 9+ interviews in any given week. By perfecting your application strategy and interview approach through practice and experience, you’ll build the confidence and expertise you need to wow the recruiter and interviewers at your dream company when the time comes.

Of course, our tried and tested application framework is paired with tools, tips, and interview support that all come together to form a job-hunting strategy that really works. And our coaches are with you every step of the way.

3. Convert

Once you’ve lined up your interviews, it’s time to zero in on converting those round ones into round twos, and so on, all the way to the Product Manager job offer. It’s no secret that our coaches focus on the Product Manager interview process here at Product Gym: we’re there to help our members learn how to ace every step and every question — including behavioral questions, technical questions, case studies, salary negotiation, and more.

4. Learn

When should you start building your product management skillset? Before you apply? When you’re on the job? Honestly, transitioning into product management can be a long journey. We encourage Product Managers to start learning at the beginning and continue on past the finish line.

You likely already have skills that translate well into a Product Manager role: keep sharpening them, and find the gaps where you can learn, grow, and practice new skills to become a better Product Manager every day.

We want to make sure our members show up skilled and prepared for their interviews and their first day on the job, which is why we offer 20+ technical and business courses taught by industry experts

Learn More About Getting a Product Management Career Coaching

Getting people jobs in product management is our bread and butter: that makes us very good at assessing where you’re at in your job hunt and equipping you with the knowledge and skills you need to kickstart your dream career in product management.

If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of Product Manager skills and job search tactics, get in touch with us! We’re offering free career coaching sessions with our in-house team of PM Recruiter experts. We’d love to hear from you.