My Education: BS Geology, Queens College, MS Geology, USC
My Prior Experience: I worked as a petroleum geologist with a major oil company for 14 years.
My Company: My company makes software for the oil and gas industry.
Job/Career Overview: As a software program manager I am responsible for ensuring that the work of the computer programmers and testers is being done on schedule, and that they are performing the correct work. When problems arise it is my job to evaluate the severity of the problem and ensure the issue gets resolved.
It is also my job to keep track of the status of all of the work and report to upper management on how a project is going. In a typical day I will attend meetings with each of my groups to keep on top of their progress and their problems. I will usually run some metrics and make some charts during the day to also track how the groups are doing in terms of fixing defects. I will then make a PowerPoint slideshow for an upcoming management review. Once my review is ready, I will have a management meeting to work on our product status and business strategy and will run my slideshow to update management on my team's work.
More Insights: Success requires hard work and dedication. Realize that you will start out small and grow your value with time. The most important thing to do throughout your career is to maintain your integrity and to do business networking.
I rate this career 7 out of 10.
One of best parts of my career is that the work is diverse and interesting. Although there are similar tasks to do each day, the work itself is always changing. My software product itself is interesting to work on, which keeps things fresh. I also get to do many special projects as a senior manager, which also keeps things changing and interesting. Of course, another thing I like is that I am paid well.
The worst part of the job is generally that there is always stress. The computer software business is a high pressure environment where there are always deadlines to meet and difficult challenges to overcome.
Anyone who wants to go into program management should get a BS or BA degree and then pursue a Project Management Professional certification. The degree might be in Business or Computer Science. It would pay to take elective coursework in negotiation and collaboration, to learn how to work with people.
Lastly, I would suggest doing an internship at an office-based business to get work experience on your resume. You can also do volunteer work for organizations, helping with business oriented tasks as a means of getting more experience.