In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, where agility and innovation are paramount, marketing professionals are finding new avenues to apply their skills. As a marketing major turned tech project manager, the journey is one of adaptation, collaboration, and harnessing a unique blend of marketing expertise and project management skills. In this blog, I will share my experience navigating this exciting intersection in hopes that it inspires someone else to find success by pursuing an untraditional path.
Keeping an Open Mind
As many of my fellow covid graduates of 2020 can attest to, it was challenging to land a job right out of college, especially in one’s field. With companies reducing their overhead to account for the state of 'pandemic-onium', it was difficult to know where to start my job search. With a degree in Marketing from St. Bonaventure University, the outlook for openings in my field looked bleak, at best. I decided that I just had to think outside the box and try to get my foot in the door somewhere.
With no specific life plan in mind, I tried to think about areas that interested me. Having grown up with literally life-changing advancements in the digital realm, technology is something that had always intrigued me. Why not explore the tech world for potential entry level opportunities.
As luck would have it, Envative, a custom software development company in my hometown of Rochester, NY, had an opening for a Quality Assurance position. The job was to test iOS and Android mobile apps as well as web applications built by Envative's software engineering team. In essence, find potential bugs and other issues, log them, and work with a developer to get them fixed and released for client review. This was right up my alley – no coding was necessary, and I could work with professional software developers and learn the whole life cycle of software solution development. After submitting my resume and talking with the owners, I knew this was a place I wanted to work and a job I wanted to land. And I did just that. Thus began my career with Envative.
While it was a bit overwhelming at first, being a business major and entering the tech world, I soon realized that the biggest thing I could do to help was learn the industry lingo and Envative's own unique operational processes. By a few weeks into the job, I was sure I made the right choice and by the end of my first year, I was the main tester on four projects. Better yet, the knowledge gained through my quality assurance job had prepared me for the next step. I was ready to move on up.
A New Opportunity Arises
While many industries struggled during the early pandemic years, custom software development wasn't one of them. Envative was busier than ever. More developers were hired and a need for additional project management resource support was needed. After discussions with my boss and the existing project management team, we decided it would be a good role for me to take on, having spent the last year learning the evolution of a software development project within Envative.
I started with new-to-Envative clients and engagements that were contracted for stand-alone Prototypes. This was a perfect way for me to get comfortable with Project Management tasks and client communications. Software prototyping is our first and, perhaps, the most important phase of a software development project at Envative. There were some speed bumps, as any new role brings, but none severe enough to make me shy away. I embraced my new role and learned a lot quickly with the help of the rest of the team-oriented crew at Envative.
Secrets to Success
We manage projects here with an “agile” mentality. This means that we are structured in that we work in two-week sprints - showing clients the work that's been done, and planning work collaboratively with the client for the next sprint. This allows clients the flexibility to change or add features as development evolves. Often, once they see the progress of their project, they think of something else that they'd like to add or modify. It is a solid process that proves to be mutually beneficial for the clients and Envative. There are no unwanted surprises and expectations are set and re-evaluated throughout the project life cycle. This applies to prototyping, coding the software, and integrating with external systems when needed.
Since the work is dynamic, timelines and budgets may be impacted. Communication is the key to success for this and I’ve learned that transparency is the key to a healthy and fruitful client relationship. All the experience I gained throughout my time here has helped me to prepare myself to take on bigger projects, and each one teaches me something new.
The Aforementioned Bridge
I've talked a lot about myself (sorry!) and my roles within one tech company but the point of my story is really this: Working in a field without a typical degree that would support it, is more than possible with the right onboarding process and the right work environment.
My background in marketing aligned very well with Envative’s approach with regards to client interaction and collaboration. We have a unique process here that fosters both client satisfaction and project success, and that all starts with our excellent leadership and engineering teams. The culture here is one of teamwork and collaboration. I'd say it’s our key to success.
Sharing expertise and best practices with each other, no matter the role, helps our staff thrive and grow. The camaraderie of the team and unified vision of delivering the best for our customers is a fantastic environment to work in. It’s allowed me to learn quickly from the ground up and to add value in multiple areas within a short period of time.
Here are some highlights of the many things I’ve learned in my technical support roles at Envative and how they relate to my (seemingly unrelated) degree in marketing:
- Strategic Vision Meets Tactical Execution: A marketing background brings a strategic mindset to the table, and as a tech project manager, this strategic vision becomes a cornerstone for successful project execution. Understand the overarching goals of your organization and align your projects with the broader marketing objectives.
- Communication is Key: Effective communication is the linchpin of successful project management. Drawing from your marketing roots, you excel in conveying complex technical concepts to both technical and non-technical clients. Whether it's planning a sprint, leading a status meeting, or providing updates to the marketing team, your ability to communicate clearly and concisely will set the tone for project success.
- Embrace Agile Methodologies: Agile methodologies are the heartbeat of many tech projects. Embrace the iterative and collaborative nature of Agile, drawing on your marketing background to adapt quickly to changing requirements and market dynamics. Agile not only fosters flexibility but also enhances team collaboration, enabling a more efficient and dynamic project management process.
- Customer-Centric Project Management: Marketing professionals have a keen understanding of customer needs and preferences. Infuse this customer-centric approach into your project management style. Regularly gather feedback from clients to ensure that your projects align with market demands and provide value to both internal and external customers.
- Leverage Technology for Efficiency: As a tech project manager, harness the power of project management tools and technology. From collaboration platforms to task management software, leverage these tools to streamline workflows, enhance team communication, and ensure project timelines are met.
- Develop a Stream of Collaboration: Collaboration is at the heart of successful tech projects. As a marketing major, you bring a cross-functional mindset to the table. Foster collaboration between marketing, development, and other departments, ensuring that the project aligns with overarching business goals. Break down silos and create a collaborative environment that encourages knowledge sharing and innovation, while trying to reach the goal of delivering a sound software system.
The transition from marketing to tech project management is a journey filled with challenges and exciting opportunities. By leveraging my strategic marketing mindset, effective communication skills, and a customer-centric approach, I’ve been able to excel in the dynamic realm of technical project management.
Attitude is Everything
Although I’ve focused this article on applying Marketing skills to Technology roles due to my own experience, I think there is a broader message here. For those that are approaching graduation without a solid plan for the job you are seeking, my advice to you is to remain open-minded. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself by looking strictly for a traditional job in “your field.” It IS possible to apply the skills you’ve learned in Marketing (or Psychology, or whatever degree you’ve chosen) to roles that are outside-the-norm. In doing so, you will open yourself up to a much broader world of opportunity.
Regardless of where you land, remember to embrace agility, collaborate across functions, and use technology to your advantage. You may just find yourself in a similar fashion to me – successfully applying marketing degree learnings to technical project management. Stay adaptable and find your passion. I’m not sure who coined this but, find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life!
Best of luck.
Tagged as: Custom Software Development, Project Management, Software Testing