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- I used to work 70 hours a week as a consultant, which led to frequent burnout.
- I took a LinkedIn product manager course to understand the role and tie in my existing skills.
- 3 months after taking the course, I landed a new job as a product manager.
I started my career working in management consulting for Deloitte while I was living in Russia. What I liked the most about having a consulting job was that every couple of months, I was able to wear a different hat and jump on a new project at a different company, team, or department.
But after eight years of this job, which entailed working more than 70 hours a week, I decided I no longer wanted to pursue this type of corporate career. Because I was primarily working on projects in the finance space, I’d occasionally work on a project with a more technical focus, like consulting for an IT department, and noticed I was more passionate about doing something more aligned in that space.
It wasn’t until 2019, when my ex-wife was offered a job in the United States, that we decided to relocate permanently. I figured it was the perfect time to leave my job and explore completely new opportunities. During a trip to San Francisco, I got the idea to learn more about product management after I met with my former boss, who at that time was the top executive at a popular workplace collaboration tool. He spoke passionately about the product, which got me excited about pursuing a new career as a product manager.
I researched potential jobs before committing to a course or program
After researching the different roles I could apply for, I started to pick apart what current skills I had from my previous job that could help me land a new job as a product manager. Since I worked in both consulting and investment banking, I had a lot of experience doing market research and analysis, as well as finding engaging ways to communicate information to other people, whether internally or externally.
I realized those skills tie into a lot of what a product manager does, since the main responsibility is to research users’ needs and convert them into actionable tasks for the development team.
While I realized that leaving my job as a consultant would mean leaving behind a big paycheck and starting from scratch (a lower salary and a more entry-level role), I knew it was a career change I was ready for, especially because I hoped to take the new skills I learned as a product manager to one day start my own company.
Rather than going back to school, I wanted to build on my existing skill set by taking supplementary online courses. I had taken some courses through LinkedIn Learning before, like Transitioning from Manager to Leader, and saw that it offered quite a few courses on being a product manager.
I started with a LinkedIn Learning course that covered the basics
I took Becoming a Product Manager: The Complete Guide, which consisted of almost 11 hours of learning, 13 chapter quizzes, and a certification of completion I could add to my profile when I was done. Since I already had an annual LinkedIn Learning membership ($19.99/month or $39.99/month, depending on your plan), this course was one of the 20,000 included in the library.
Taking the course was easy and more engaging than I thought. I took the course gradually, spending about 30 minutes to one hour each day. It consisted of a mix of videos, practice assignments, reading materials, and opportunities to ask the instructors questions and receive feedback.
The course helped me get an overview of everything I needed to know about the product manager role, the tools and techniques needed to do this job, how product life cycles work, how approaches like agile and scrum work, how to run MVP (minimal viable product) experiments, and so much more.
While the material was straightforward, the most challenging part of the course was figuring out how to implement all of this learning in real life, especially before I was able to land a job.
I took more courses while job hunting to build up my skills and resume
When I finished the course, I received a certificate that I was able to attach to my LinkedIn profile. While starting the job hunting process, I took a few additional product management courses, like Product Innovation for Product Managers, Technology for Product Managers, and Product Management: Launching Your Product.
I figured the completion of all of these courses would help me land a job and be more successful in that first role. Plus, since a LinkedIn Learning membership grants access to all its courses, I got more for my money by taking as many as I could.
At the same time, I started out by browsing product manager roles on LinkedIn. Whenever I found one that interested me, I would apply; but if I noticed the company asked for specific skills I didn’t have, I’d immediately take a LinkedIn Learning course to help me improve and stay competitive in the job searching process.
I made the most of my LinkedIn membership and used it to network
Beyond taking the courses and adding certificates to my resume, I used LinkedIn to network. I’d search for a company that I was interested in and reach out to people who worked there via LinkedIn DMs, asking them questions about the company and role while also sharing my background. I joined product manager groups on LinkedIn as well.
Three months after completing the LinkedIn course, I was able to land my first job as a product manager for a FinTech company just by submitting an application and getting an interview. While my initial salary was half of what I was making in consulting, I’ve been able to work my way up and make over six figures after working as a product manager for three years.
My experience with online learning helped shape the company I’m at now
My boss was not only impressed by the LinkedIn Learning courses I’ve taken, but agreed with my suggestion of having other employees take these courses whenever they wanted to improve a skill or boost an existing one.
Three years later, I still find myself using information that I learned in that initial course. Whether it’s about decision-making frameworks or templates for customer interviews, there were so many takeaways that have helped me feel prepared for this new career.
The bottom line
If anyone out there wants to switch careers and become a product manager, start by learning everything you can about the role to see if it’s a good fit for your personality and skill set. For me, that meant using LinkedIn Learning’s online courses to fill in any gaps in my knowledge.