Project Managemernt (PM) Students Make Career Transitions Via Networking

Julie Baxter

Julie Baxter

For project management students, networking is extremely important when trying to find a job. Two PM students, Julie Baxter and Andreia Forbes took advantage of the networking opportunities available to them and landed two project management jobs at different companies. Below, each talk about their stories including Veeral Chudasama, one of the project manager advisors at the College of Extended Studies who posted one of the jobs on the LinkedIn board. Sometimes your future career is right in front of you, if you network with the right people.

Julie Baxter

Frustrated with her career, Julie Baxter dreamed of something else. She worked for years as an administrative assistant and was introduced to project management while working on various projects. She found an affinity with project management and decided it was a path she would like to explore.

After research, Baxter chose and enrolled in SDSU’s Project Management program. “I took the very fast paced track where you take two classes per week for six months. It started in April and I graduated at the end of October. It felt like a fulltime job, but it was so worth it,” she says.

During the program, Baxter began attending study group (PMP prep) to prepare for the Program Management Institute exam to become certified project manager. During these meetings she showed dedication, intellect, and willingness for more. She impressed the instructors much that the instructor offered her a job. Baxter adds, “My prep course instructor knew I was taking the SDSU program and I was taking the PMP prep to break into a better opportunity for myself. She was brought on to Scripps and when that happened she began looking for good people to build her team. She really liked me, said I was a great student, and I applied myself. She knew I was actively looking and so she told me to forward my resume. She interviewed me and I got the job.”

Today, Baxter is a senior project analyst. “I work for the project management office at Scripps. I follow the project management methodologies and processes I learned. Everything that learned in the program I have been able to apply.” Her decision to go back to school changed her life.

“I was just so unhappy and decided to make sacrifice. At the time I wasn’t making a lot of money and worked two jobs, but the program made my life so much better. My advice is to really take it seriously, go into it with an open mind, study, and make sure you participate in class. If you network correctly and use the LinkedIn Project Management group it can open doors. It did for me and it did for a lot of us in the program. From personal experience, my income jumped up by 30% right after I graduated,” Baxter says.

Andreia Forbes

Andreia Forbes

Andreia Forbes

Andreia Forbes was in a job that she didn’t feel challenged, so after research she decided to enroll in SDSU’s Project Management program to take her skills to the next level. During her time in the program she joined the Project Management LinkedIn group – to interact, engage, learn, and network with others.

After a few months in the program and engaging on the PM group page, she saw a job posting that a former PM student posted on the board. “The job was on the LinkedIn board and since was a member of the group I was able to contact the poster of the job directly. I said I was interested in applying,” says Forbes. Originally, she thought her direction would be in project management and information technology, but when she saw the posting for the CareFusion position she said, “I saw the position and realized that this was a great direction for my career in project management.”

During the interview process Forbes went into detail about what she was learning in the Project Management program. This sealed the deal. Today, she conducts data analysis at CareFusion and says, “I use a combination of everything – especially the team building skills because I work on teams now. I learned lot in the program, and I met great people. It helps to network and engage with other students.

Veeral Chudasama

Veeral Chudasama

Veeral Chudasama

Serving on SDSU’s Project Management Advisory Board, Veeral Chudasama not only contributes to the program, he also engages in social networking to support the students. Recently, he posted a project manager job on the SDSU CES Project Management LinkedIn group. He says, “The LinkedIn PM group is a good professional networking tool and I think you get in touch with a lot of people who are in the same field or who have the same interest. And it’s also a good way to put the word out because LinkedIn is a professional network where people are looking for career growth.”

Chudasama thought posting the job on the group’s page was a great idea since he took classes in the certificate program and got to meet other students, where he discovered they were serious, directed, and would make good job candidates. He adds, “The fellow students that I came in contact with were very sharp and they knew that this was the area that they wanted to focus on. They were very driven and very educated, and also the quality of education that the Project Management Certificate was providing, I knew that it putout really good students. So I said, ‘OK if I can hire someone from this program, I would potentially be getting a good candidate for my team.”

One individual, Andreia Forbes, who went through the program and saw the announcement on the LinkedIn board, responded to the job posting and landed the job. “Hiring Andreia worked out pretty well. She has the knowledge that is needed because of the project management classes. It helps because we work on various projects, big and small, and she has the training to get the job done,” adds Chudasama.

The program offers valuable and useful information to students – the exercises in classes imitate real-world situations. Students also experience team dynamics. There are projects in each class and program participants get an idea of what it’s like to work on a project with different people who each have different backgrounds and come from different places. Chudasama adds, “The goal is to work together and cohesively as a team to achieve the end goal of a project and the courses do a very good job of simulating that work environment.”