Getting into Project Management An Answer to a Visitor's Inquiry
Some months, Antonio [not his real name] wrote to me by Email:
Hello Mr. Wideman
I'll keep this as brief as possible as I'm sure you get a
lot of email and your time is valuable. I would really appreciate a reply and
I am 34 years old. I have an agribusiness engineering degree from the Technological
Institute of Costa Rica in 2005, which even though it may not be known here in
the US, is the most respected science oriented university in Costa Rica. At the
time I decided I wanted to travel more and do something more creative and I went
to culinary school in Florida and have been working in restaurants for the past
Now I am contemplating my professional life and realize the food industry is
a very challenging field for having a regular family life and the benefits and
pay are not very good. I feel the need to study something and challenge my mind
again and think of new opportunities in the future.
I juggled many things in my mind like getting a certificate in finance, or
going into IT. I spoke to a very wise friend who is a Notre Dame graduate and
he suggested looking into project management.
I looked into it and he said with my undergraduate degree this is a good option
for me for how universal it is and it's applications.
Do you think someone like me with just experience in the restaurant industry
can transition into this field?
I am thinking of taking an online masters while I continue working. I am considering
the online programs from [two universities].
One thing I realized is that almost every Masters degree requires years of
experience in the field for admission. I'm going to find out if I can get into
I am currently working for a multinational company [--] that provides food-service
solutions for corporate clients. So I feel even within my company I could have
a chance to move from the kitchens to an office position.
I hope I made some sense, and I'd appreciate your input and if it is worth
pursuing and if the online route is a good respected degree?
Thank you for your Email. I will answer your questions directly.
Yes, anyone can transition into the project management field. It is a universal
management style discipline.
I cannot comment on any particular educational establishment. But first I suggest
you should get some experience in managing a project. That will give you a much
better understanding of what the subject is really all about, and it is not just
about getting an "office position".
But the very first step for you to take is to find out if you are constitutionally
suited to doing projects in the first place. For this, go to maxwideman.com/papers/personality/intro.htm
and read Dominant Personality Traits Suited to Running Projects Successfully (And
What Type are You?)
If this appeals, you may want to go to some of its related papers, but definitely
go to my Home page and read up Project Management 101 (top right). Don't be put
off by the graphics this is serious stuff, and cuts to the essential essence
of project management.
If all that does not perk your enthusiasm, then forget it.
But if it does, the next step is to get some live experience by working on
someone else's project. This is not as difficult as it sounds. I suggest that
you might first ask some one higher up in your company. Maybe they have never
heard of project management no matter. You simply want a challenge that results
in some beneficial outcome for the company, preferably involving several people
or departments, and dive right in.
Failing that, is there some volunteer society in your location that needs help?
Turn that into a project. The objective in both cases is to get some experience
and get it on record for your resume. I am sure that you can think of some similar
Ultimately, with your background, you may want to get into kitchen upgrades,
restoration, or designing new. Keep a look out for that sort of opportunity. Do
you have any architectural building design companies anywhere near by? Ask them
who do they employ as their kitchen and facilities specialists? That could be
a good lead.
With a bit of luck, you will not have time for a Master's degree.
Hope that helps,