Published here February 2016.


Musings Index

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 your advice.

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 10 years.

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 these programs.

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?



Dear Antonio,

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 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 approaches.

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,

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