Inside Program Manager Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Always A Chance To Learn Something New...
I was surprised how much I enjoy doing my current job. I work with a really good group of people who come from varied backgrounds. I've enjoyed learning the technologies that I've been exposed to in this position and have been pleased with how quickly I've been able to pick up new skills. I work with educational specialists, technical specialists and training coordinators as well as students. My job is always changing and I learn new things all the time, both career and non-career related." (Event Manager; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, female
School: Studied English, French at East Carolina University in North Carolina; completed Bachelor degree in 1988

"I was surprised that I was able to find a career in the Meeting and Events Planning industry with my major. I was glad to see that courses I took in college such as Interpersonal Communications and Computer Science would be primary tools for doing well in this industry as most of the work is dealing with clients directly or over the phone and much of the actual work is completed using a company database where data is entered and used to record most of the budgets and expenses." (Program Manager; 2012)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Villanova University in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 1996

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Marketing Program Manager: "One of the best parts of my job is that I get to work with a wide variety of people who work in many different parts of the company. I get to learn about what they do and what their points of view are. This kind of knowledge helps me do my job better because I can better anticipate what they might need, the kind of communications they prefer, and how I can make the process of working with them smoother. What can be difficult is that I am often working with people around the globe and therefore am forced to talk to them mostly on the phone. When it comes to resolving potential issues and conflict, it is a lot more difficult to do this without being face to face." (2011)

Program Manager: "The best parts of my job are that I get to interact with people throughout the organization. I've built relationships with people and have exposure to functions that help me have a more holistic view of how we achieve results. I am also involved in an initiative that has the potential to greatly increase our software sales and propel me up the ladder. The worst parts of my job are the paperwork and having to help others comprehend the value of partnering." (2010)

Program Manager: "The best part of my job is helping others to perform to their potential. I find this very rewarding. Creating a team which works well together and enjoys its role in my program is essential to achieving our goals. The worst part of the job is fighting to maintain the critical resources we need to complete our efforts. This can be frustrating, but a solution is always found." (2009)

Career Background

  Program Manager Salaries

Career Tips

"Learn, Listen And Prioritize...
The willingness to learn new skills, listen, and prioritize work go a long way toward finding a job that you enjoy and will do well at. Never be afraid to ask questions and during slow spells use that time to see if there is any way to help out a co-worker." (Event Manager; 2013)

"Take Various Writing Courses...
Whether you like it or not, make sure you take writing classes. And not just one kind of writing - stretch yourself. Learn analytical writing, journalism writing, creative writing. All these techniques come in handing when writing emails, wording, and documents for different situations. I would also look for leadership opportunities. The more chances you get to learn how to lead others, work with others of different personalities, etc. the better you will get. No classroom work is a substitute for experience. Reach out to potential mentors in your interested field of study. Most people are more than happy to have coffee with you and talk about how they got where they are." (Marketing Program Manager; 2011)

"Advice For Program Managers...
1. Take the time to fully understand the potential value (to your company) of the program you manage. 2. When working with contractors, make sure you understand what's in it for them. You've got to grease the wheels for the relationship to work. 3. Take the time to fully understand corporate values and goals. This can be achieved by doing research on the internet, as well as by talking with people who work for the company." (Program Manager; 2010)

"Broad Experience Helps...
1. Do not hesitate to switch jobs. Program managers need an understanding of multiple jobs and functions. Having been in multiple roles gives you an understanding of the best ways to assist others in achieving the teams' goals. Also, the experience you have in different roles will give you better perspective. 2. Having a first management experience with an hourly Team will allow you to understand the basics behind management and focus easily on "what's important." 3. Always bolster your knowledge. Look for classes and tools to bring you to the next level (whether company-sponsored or not). Continuous education is essential to continued growth." (Program Manager; 2009)