Project Leader – How I Became One Without any experience

Project Leader
Project Leader

Project Leader Promotion

It gradually dawned on me during the interview that they wanted me to be the Project Leader of their new mission critical project. The agency had not told me. I was expecting a contract as a developer.

However, I was never one for turning anything down. Any time during the interview that I was asked if I had ever done this type of thing before, I said that I had.

That‘s what you do at interviews. It seemed that I was to be the lead Analyst as well. I had only ever done one job as an Analyst before either.

They were giving off strong signals at the interview that I had got the job.

My instinct was to turn it down. I‘d never done anything like it before. So my fear was that they’d catch me out as soon as I started the job.

Friendly Advice

I spoke to a friend of mine who is a bit of a ‘jack the lad‘.

His advice was to take the job. He said that it was an excellent opportunity. It was the kind of job where it would take them three months to find me out. That was the length of the initial contract. He said that by that time I might have worked out how to do it anyway. Even if I hadn‘t it was useful experience that I could put on my CV for my next job.

The agency called up and told me that I had the job – so I took it. I was more than a little nervous to begin with.

However, as my buddy had said, you gradually work out how to do the job. I actually did pretty well at the job.

Project Finished on Time

They renewed me for 6 months, and I finished the Project on time and to budget.

My pal was also right in terms of experience. I went on to get other higher level jobs in the future like Project Manager, Project Coordinator, Systems Manager and then Chief Information Officer.

I must confess that I did screw up my first Projects Manager job in a big way. Managing a few permies as Project Leader as the analyst as well, and managing a larger team of multiple projects with a team comprised mostly of contractors is a very different job altogether.

However, I‘ll leave that for another day.

Take the Opportunity

Suffice to say, my advice for anybody who is unexpectedly offered a job at a higher level than they now have would be to take it. Even when I screwed up the Projects Manager job I managed to get a 9 month contract out of it at very good rates and I managed to learn enough from my mistakes to run successful projects in the future.

If I had turned down the unexpected Project Leader job I might still be working somewhere as an ageing developer – or even more likely an out of work developer wondering if I‘ll ever work again.

Working at Higher Levels of Company

I tell you, it‘s a lot more fun working at the higher levels of companies. You get a lot more respect. However much you think of yourself as a consultant when you are a contract developer, they still think of you as a code monkey.

If you do get the opportunity to get a job or contract at a higher level, go for it!

Seize the opportunity with both hands.

Life is not a dress rehearsal!