Continuing the discussion from Information that will change our lives. :
How your PM skills affect your UX skills is quite an interesting topic. I’ve done quite a bit of PM work before switching over to UX, and I found that the biggest impact my PM time had one me was in managing my projects within the company. The ability to effectively plan and communicate was vital in running these projects over the many hurdles typically experienced in a corporate environment.
On the note of your portfolio, the community here has been great about giving constructive feedback in a way that feels welcoming and in the spirit of making your work the best it can be. I’m excited to see what you have!
Thanks for the insight @dougcollins! Would be happy to share what I’ve got once I get it all together. I’d be interested in learning more about your path and how you moved from being a PM into UX. What worked, etc. Seems like we have that bit in common.
I’ll give a little more context about my transition from PM to UX here.
My PM background comes from working as a contract with a never-to-be-named digital signage company. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have 50+ projects on my plate at any given time with a variety of high-profile clients. My role wasn’t just PM work. I was responsible for the end-to-end management, design, development, deployment, and end user training on almost all of my projects. Only sales, purchasing, and hardware setup were taken care of for me.
In some ways, the job was a nightmare. Managing every aspect of a single project is difficult enough on its own, but with 50+ projects under my belt at any given time, the challenge was increased exponentially. Add into the equation that I was traveling frequently, which meant quite a few hours during the week that I was effectively incommunicado, and you have a situation that was very rough.
In other ways, however, the job was a tremendous opportunity. As I was in charge of so many different aspects of the project, I got a chance to get a lot of hands on experience in all the areas that I touched. When I wasn’t working, I was studying graphic design, PM techniques, and, most importantly, UI/UX principles. My study was rewarded with increased efficiency, which in turn was rewarded with more work. I eventually became the senior sign developer and team lead for my own little cadre of contracters based off my expansive skill set, which included previous management experience. I was also moved into a nearly 100% travel position where I would fly to a client and do an end-to-end design and deployment in 3-5 days, all while training them on the software we used along the way.
In the end, though, I just wasn’t happy doing what I was doing. With so many projects on the board at any given time, the vast majority of what I did each day was PM work. I always found PM work at that company to be difficult and unsatisfying for me. The travel schedule was grueling. I was never home. What’s more, despite my amazingly accelerated responsibilities, I was still making the same salary as the day I started.
It was time for a change.
I wrote about the next part of the story in my above-mentioned post:
To my surprise, I was most often contacted about UI/UX jobs. At first I wrote off the idea. In my mind, I was a developer. My code solved problems, dang it. I wasn’t going to give that up.
The more calls that came in for UI/UX jobs, however, the more I began to look into it as a career choice. I was shocked to find out that average salary for a UX Engineer was actually better than it was for a software engineer. As I read more about how companies were leveraging UX to make the web a better place, the more in love with the concept I became.
I also quickly realized that my life had set me up well to be a pretty dang solid UX engineer. My writing career gave me imagination and empathy. My call center career gave me the ability to spot issues and find UX-centric solutions. My digital signage career gave me an amazing amount of practice on hundreds of projects with world-class companies.
I tinkered with my resume a bit, and put out a UX-based version. In a matter of days, I had interviews with multiple companies. Within a couple of weeks, I was hired on with a company that provides software, applications, and services to investment advisors.
So. Here I am. It’s been a long path from starting my last gig to ending up in this one, but it was well worth it. I ended up in a career I love, with a great company, getting paid well to do something I love to do every day. If you have the ability and drive to make the switch, I highly recommend it.
Thanks for providing the background! It’s almost scary how similar our paths are/have been. Here’s a quick breakdown on where I’ve been and see myself going.
I’ve been working at the same legal tech company for 10 years. Started in the product support department, then moved on to sales, then on to product management. I can relate with your experience in handling so many projects. At one point when I was still in sales I had the opportunity to take over the relationship with a new partner to sell some of their services. I had to learn an entire new side of the business along with handling the sales, support, and vision of the product line. It was like a crash course in how to run a startup! The skills eventually landed me this PM job though.
I’ve also looked into web development as another option, but we just hired a UI/UX designer to come in and work with us and having the chance to work with her has really given me more of an appreciation for UX design. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from her, but definitely see myself moving into UX in the near future if I can. I really enjoy the amount of creative muscle you get to exercise as a UX person. It’s more appealing than having to keep yourself up in the clouds thinking strategy and focus as more PMs have to.
Thank you again for sharing your story. It’s great to see that others like me have been in this position before and succeeded!
The creative side of UX work is one that I really love. I feel like so many jobs are either clear-cut creative or analytical, and having an outlet where I get to work on both sides of my brain makes me tremendously happy.
You’re very welcome! I’m always happy to help out. I wonder if anyone else here has made the switch from PM to UX.