<< Back to search

11 Advices for new project managers

Table of Contents

Starting in the Project Management field can be downing. I know, I’ve been there, so I compilated 11 pieces of advice I wish someone would’ve taught me when I started my career.

Frameworks, Methodologies and Best Practices

There is a lot in the market, so I also understand why it can be overwhelming even to decide where to begin. My main advice is to first learn the best practices of PMI on the PMBOK (Project Management Book Of Knowledge). Depending on the industry, one methodology or framework can be more relevant than another; for example, learning Agile in the tech world is crucial. But I think for most (if not all) new project managers, knowing the PMBOK will provide a good background for their careers.

The PMI best practices include concepts like scope, quality, costs, stakeholders, risks, organisational assets and many others that are relevant across industries. The most famous certification on this subject is the PMP (project management professional), but that certification requires at least three years of full-time experience as a project manager. If you are starting out, I recommend starting with the CAPM certification; this one doesn’t require any professional experience and can be a good highlight in any job application.

Get a good boss

I can’t highlight enough how important it is to get yourself a good boss when you’re starting out in your career. A good boss at this stage in your career is someone you can trust when you’re struggling with your projects. The one who will help you make certain decisions or select your approach is the person who will be tough when you’re not doing a good job but will be there when you screw up. It’s the one who will let you know when you’re going well and questions you from time to time. This person has some years of experience in the field, might hold specific certifications and is savvy in the industry. It would be best if you got yourself a good boss you can learn from.

Get a Mentor

I’ve had several mentors throughout my career, and I can validate their importance. A mentor can be someone with more experience than you whom you trust to ask questions regarding your career and projects. Don’t get me wrong, you have to do the work, but a good mentor will let you know if you are going on the right track. They are people with more experience with clients, the field, the industry, on the management of teams, and they are professionals you admire. These professionals will be happy to teach you. Why, you may wonder? Because they are aware that they will require professionals like you to lead future projects like theirs. They know they won’t be able to manage it all, and while they are teaching you something they already know and manage to the tea, they are probably already learning something entirely new.


A good way to start your career and network with other project managers is to volunteer. Several programs will be happy to have you. For instance, the PMI (Project Management Institute), the APM (Association of Project Managers), and many other associations have programs for new project managers in your region (or online) that you can take advantage of. You will probably not start by giving speeches about project management, but you will be able to attend free conferences, meet other project managers in your industry, and know what is going on in the profession.

Be proactive at work

Take advantage if more experienced project managers need help or if a new project management task needs to get done. Taking ownership of these tasks can be a great opportunity for you to research and learn about new tools or methods that can be used in your projects. Make sure you keep learning and doing your research, this will not only make you a better professional, but the organisation and your peers will notice the effort.

Review what others on your industry are doing

Something I learnt very early in my career was to check online what were the people with the job I wanted doing. When I started my career, I only had a few examples to follow, project management at the time was something very new and only very experienced people were doing it, so I started wondering, how did they get there? I started looking on networks like Linkedin and asking in conferences how these people could get the job I wanted and began to study what they studied. It took some effort to find out the route I wanted to take, but it paid off when I became the youngest project manager in the company, managing projects on a regional level.

Get some friends on the field that you feel safe sharing experiences and learnings

There will be times when you’ll screw up, there will be times when you feel overwhelmed, and there will be times when you’ll want to celebrate (that feeling of closing the very first project you manage alone is priceless). So get some friends who understand your profession, who might be taking the same path as you, with whom you can share some experiences. Trust me; you’re going to need them.

Get a PM diary

I was hesitant to include this one since it’s not something I practice. Nevertheless, I am sharing it because it worked for some of my colleagues. A PM diary is a record of your learnings and project management experiences. It is helpful not only to record and revise how you solved some problems but also helps you to acknowledge your growth. It might work for you; give it a shot!

Go to forums and conferences

I went to many… MANY…. conferences and forums when I started my career, I think they are quite motivational, and the people who give the conferences have prepared so much for them that most of the speeches tend to be quite understandable regardless of the subject (some of them even funny!). Going to conferences can also open the world for you to learn about other subjects, and it’s also a very good tool for networking.

Check out articles and blogs online, but be careful with the sources

Reviewing articles and blogs online can be a very good tool for your personal growth. They will help you learn how some other project managers around the world solved problems you might encounter on your own projects. Nevertheless, be very careful with some sources online. Some of the articles I have read have misleading information; they might lead you to get products or services you don’t need or might not even quote the sources making the ideas theirs (copyright). So be careful with the information you take when applying it to your projects and your career.

Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback can be a tough one since, besides knowing what you did well, part of the feedback is knowing what you did wrong and reviewing the areas you need to improve, but this knowledge is crucial to improve on your professional career. That said, it is also important that you know how to take this feedback and make a plan for improvement. A tip on this one is that if your boss or mentor doesn’t have much time to provide you with feedback, you can always propose a coffee or lunch to discuss your professional development; it has happened to me many times before when my bosses had a lot on their plates, and they appreciated having that discussion in a less professional setting. The feedback is for you, so if you and your boss are comfortable with it, it would be ok.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *