Product Management is a difficult, rewarding, and ever-changing position to hold. It's also possible to have a lot of fun with it. A Product Manager may be responsible for market research, product strategy, communicating ideas, organizing product development, receiving user feedback, evaluating data, defining and prioritizing product iterations, and establishing product roadmaps on any given day. If just reading that list has made you exhausted, it might be time to bail ship right now. Because, to put it bluntly, if you want to be a product manager, you must be willing to learn and excel in a wide range of skills. To become a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-all-trades, in a sense.
However, this is fantastic news for individuals trying to break into the product management field.
The Reason Why It Is Fantastic News
Because effective product managers have such a diverse set of skills and abilities, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting your first internship — or full-time position — in product management. If they show the right potential, doors can open for anyone from any walk of life. PMs often come from a variety of backgrounds, which is as diverse as the function itself. Some will have come from engineering, while others will have come from marketing, project management, and so on. Qualifications in topics such as computer science, data science, business, marketing (and others) will be useful for those entering the industry without significant professional experience.
Furthermore, PM positions are becoming more common in firms across all industries. Sure, Silicon Valley companies like Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and others have large product teams.
Companies ranging from finance to FMCG now require Product Managers, thanks to the current "There's an app for anything" mindset. A PM can help deliver any digital product that needs to be built or improved, such as a website, app, or online marketplace. While some businesses have a definite sense of what kind of skills or education a PM should have, others will provide internships to high-potential individuals with little or no related experience or qualifications. We are going to focus on the latter part.
Watch: I Became A Product Manager Without Knowing What It Meant Ft. Praveen G Krishnan, The Ken, Ex Myntra
What Will You Do In PM Internship
As a product management intern, your day-to-day tasks will be diverse. Even if you don't have much authority or decision-making power, you will have a voice and your thoughts will be heard. The majority of PM internships start with a thorough overview of the product and its lifecycle, as well as an explanation of how it operates and what the product goal and roadmap are.
The product backlog can be thought of as a priority-ordered development to-do list. It's a living document that evolves in reaction to external and internal influences (including that much-needed customer insight). As a result, PMs rely largely on the backlog's content to strategically plan what needs to be done and when. During your internship, you'll most likely have the opportunity to work with a real-world product backlog, assisting the PM or other team members in keeping it current, aligning actions with the strategic plan, and reprioritizing as appropriate.
During your PM internship, you'll also work on product roadmaps, which are high-level visual summaries that assist express a product's direction and strategic goal. In almost every scenario, the roadmap will have been created before you start your internship. However, the roadmap, like the product backlog, is always changing. As an intern, you'll help organize the next steps as well as provide recommendations for roadmap enhancements.
What is the significance of this?
Because, when done well, this insight positions you — yes, you, the intern — in a great position to make educated and thoughtful contributions to product and business plans. As a respected team member, you'll be asked to contribute by offering new initiatives or suggesting ways to improve existing methods. The Product Manager is ultimately responsible for these duties. So as an intern, this gives you a great opportunity to showcase all this.
How To Prepare Yourself For Getting A PM Internship
Certain PM responsibilities (even at the intern level) will necessitate specialized technical knowledge. It could be a working knowledge of a certain piece of software, such as Jiro or Wrike. Or even a working knowledge of HTML and CSS. Even if it isn't a formal requirement, knowing and understanding what goes into making things on a technical level is a tremendous advantage.
If you improve your technical skills, you'll have a better chance of securing an excellent PM internship.
What relevant activities and projects have you already been a part of, whether at your prior employment, as a side business, or while studying? While having built or launched something yourself isn't required, you'll be a much stronger contender if you've had some product development experience. Product management is defined by the capacity to monitor market trends, identify related challenges, and provide solutions.
Any established organization seeking a PM intern (and possibly some that aren't) will pay attention to you if you can exhibit the valuable entrepreneurial qualities that create a great PM.
Never Give Up:
You will face setbacks as with any first steps toward a new field. But that's all right. You'll have to keep trying - consider it as a development project in and of itself, learning as you go and refining your strategy.
What To Do During The Internship
Being a good leader and being able to inspire and motivate people are important qualities for a PM to have. Take advantage of every opportunity to put your leadership talents to the test throughout your internship. Leading in groups (whether or not related to products) necessitates a variety of attributes and talents, including initiative, communication, diplomacy, decisiveness, and vision. Participate in any workplace efforts (or create your own project) and put yourself forward for leadership positions wherever possible.
Demonstrating leadership abilities during your internship will also help you demonstrate your ability to work well with others, which is another important aspect of the role of a successful PM.
Being a product manager entails listening to customers and internal stakeholders, analyzing their feedback, and delivering it to other teams in a clear and coherent manner. PMs must be able to speak with conviction and authority. They must be able to sell their vision and communicate and advocate for fresh ideas and concepts very effectively. In the product management team, many leadership teams strive for exceptional communicators. And what better time to show off your abilities than during your internship, when you're interacting with other teams?
You must go out of your way to expand your network. This will require you to go out of your way to meet members of other teams, form connections, and nurture those friendships.
You'll be in a terrific position to expand your network on the inside of a company during your internship, working with other product professionals on a regular basis. You aren't confined to establishing pals there, though. Introduce yourself to people in other relevant roles and even different firms. Make friends with folks who are further down the road you wish to take. Make friends with people who work for the companies where you want to work. Basically, make friends wherever you can.
Whether your PM internship leads to a full-time position at the same business or improves your approach to others, it will have been highly beneficial in launching your new career, and you will be in a lot stronger position than you were before you started.
Watch Next: A Day In The Life Of A PM Summer Intern - Rohan Patnaik (IIM A' 22) & Ashutosh Chandra (IIM A'22)
That would be all from my side. I have tried to touch upon every aspect of the PM internship. I have tried to be as comprehensive as possible. I hope that readers find it useful.