Job Description

Product managers help business leaders figure out what software products to make and why. They then work with engineers and designers to design, build, test, and deliver those solutions to customers.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Problem solving – given the company’s mission, a limited time, team and budget, what should be the main focus to help customers?
  • Working with a team
  • Hands on projects
  • Testing and building ideas
  • Putting prototypes or finished products in front of users to see what they think
The Inside Scoop
Day in the Life
  • Every day is different
  • Either spend time analyzing business opportunities and discussing strategy with other product managers and company leaders, or working with engineers and designers to figure out what’s being built and test versions of it with our users
  • Also spend time hiring, mentoring, and improving processes to best support the team
  • Click here for a product manager’s day in the life
Skills Needed
  • User research
  • Wireframing (basic design)
  • Data analysis
  • Strategic thinking
  • Strong communications (speaking/ writing, and listening/ reading)
  • Project management
  • People management
  • Decision making
  • Technical understanding
Different Types of Organizations
  • Tech companies of any size (startup or established)

Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • Have to gain experience at an entry level position in either the technical or business world before becoming a product manager

Current Industry Trends
  • Create modular offerings for products
  • Find relevant vendor partnerships
  • Develop and share APIs to make software more useful in customers’ actual workflows
  • Automate more of the customers’ workflows with products
  • Leverage data to create more value
  • Add focus to customer value
  • Within Product Management (PM) there are typically a few specializations:
  • Growth – someone with a quantitative background who figures out how to get people to initially see and use your product online in the most cost effective way possible
  • Core product -- people of diverse backgrounds who help drive how engaging the product is
  • Platform – non user-facing products that are more technical and behind the scenes
What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...
  • Observed how others interact
  • Played with different types of products and thought about what they liked/ didn’t like about them
  • Teamed up with people of different backgrounds – those who knew things they didn’t, and came together to experiment and create new things
  • Ran their own mini business
Education and Training Needed
  • Bachelor’s in a quantitative discipline (preferred)
  • MBA (preferred)
Top Universities for Software Product Manager
  • NYU Stern
  • Tepper School of Business
  • Harvard Business School
  • MIT Sloan
  • University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business
Things to do during high school/college
  • Take a computer science class
  • Take a User Experience (UX) Design or learn about a design-centered thinking course
  • Work with a friend to create an online site or product
  • Intern at a tech company where there’s a user-facing role (customer service, user research, sales) to learn about users and their needs
  • Read about entrepreneurs and business - how do leaders make decisions and what factors do they consider?
  • Go deeper -what products work well and why? What kinds of needs do people have, and how might those be solved?
How to land your 1st job
  • Internal transfers
  • Receive formal training from an associate product manager at a much bigger tech company, ex. Google and Facebook have programs that anyone can apply to
What it really takes to make it and succeed
  • Must have high empathy for users and for team members and business leaders (business leaders and your engineering team)
  • Strong communication and people skills need to be strong
  • Must have a deep business sense and problem solving abilities
  • Organization skills
How to Find a Mentor
  • Product managers can find mentors organically through their company
  • Industry meetups and events where you can get to know or volunteer with other product managers
Recommended Resources
Plan B
  • CEO of their own software company
  • Any business related job due to the cultivated skill set
Words of Advice

“The best way to know what a product manager role is like is to work on a product team. See if you can do this by pairing with a friend who is trying to build something online or in an app, and figuring out the ways you can help or collaborate together.” - Beverly Chung, Lead Product Manager, Lumosity


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Source: Interviews, ONET, Glassdoor

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