Is product management a good career entry point for new college graduate?

Is product management a good career entry point for new college graduate?

产品经理是否是大学毕业生一个好的职业开始?

A few years ago I hired a summer intern. He just finished his junior year at an Ivy-league school, majored in computer science. He was a very bright and balanced person. Not only he was a proficient programmer, he also had excellent interpersonal skills. I was very happy with his performance and recommended my employer to offer him a full-time position.

几年前,我雇佣了一个暑期实习生。他刚刚完成了在常春藤学校三年级的计算机专业学习。他是一个非常聪明和平静的人。他不仅是一个熟练的程序员,而且他也有良好的人际交往能力。我对他的表现非常高兴,我很高兴他的表现,并建议我的老板向他提供一个全职职位。

A year later, he called me. He had received multiple job offers. Most of them were software developer positions. But, he also got a job offer from Google for “Associate Product Manager” rotational program. The key selling point for the program was that the college graduates would work under Melissa Mayer, the celebrity Vice President of Search Product and User Experience at Google.

一年后,他打电话给我。说他已经收到了多个工作邀请。其中大多数是软件开发人员的职位。但是,他还得到了谷歌一个“Associate Product Manager”轮岗项目的工作机会。之所以打动他,是因为这些大学毕业生将在Melissa Mayer(梅利莎.迈耶)的手下工作,而她是谷歌内知名的负责搜索产品和用户体验的副总裁。

Google is a great employer and Ms. Mayer is a very capable executive. But, I have to say that I don’t like the idea to train new college graduates to become product managers.

谷歌是一个非常好的雇主,并且Mayer女士也是一个很有能力的高层。但是,我必须说,我不喜欢这个培养新的大学毕业生成为产品经理的主意。

To be an effective product manager, I believe there are five essential ingredients:

要成为一个有效的产品经理,我认为有五个要素:

1.You need to have excellent political skill — entry-level product managers don’t manage anyone, but you’re responsible for a lot of things. You have to be able to lead by influencing, not by manager-subordinate relationship.

1、你需要有卓越的政治技能:刚进入的产品经理不会管理任何人,但是你却要为许多事情负责。你必须能够通过影响力来领导,而不是从属关系。

2.You need to have deep domain knowledge in order to set the right direction and requirements for the product you manage

2、你需要有深厚的专业知识,目的是让你管理的产品建立正确的方向和需求。

3.You need to have the ability to think on your feet and make a lot of important judgment calls with regard to strategy, prioritization, positioning, etc.

3、你需要有敏捷的思考能力,并且要为你所面对的战略、优先级、定位等等做出大量的决断。

4.You need to be able to communicate effectively to both internal and external audiences at the level they feel comfortable.

4、你需要有效的沟通能力,从而使各种水平的内外听众感到舒服。

5.If you manage a technical product, you need to be comfortable with technology

5、如果你管理一个技术型的产品,你还需要有一定的技术背景。

Let’s examine a new college graduate’s skill set according to above five criteria.

让我们对照上面的五个要求,来看看一个新的大学毕业生的技能。

Most college graduates are very inexperienced in dealing with office politics. There are exceptions. For examples, I have noticed that students who were heavily involved in student government in college tend to be more adept at handling politics. But, as a whole, new college graduates need a year or two (or even longer) to become better at handling work-place politics. Unfortunately, product management tend to be one of the most political jobs in a company because it’s cross-functional by nature, and you’ll be dealing with a lot of people with conflicted interests.

大多数大学毕业生都非常缺乏应对办公室政治的经验。 当然,也有例外。例如,我注意到,那些在大学中就积极参加学生会的往往更善于娴熟处理政治。但是,从整体上讲,新的大学毕业生需要一年或两年(甚至更长),才能在处理办公室政治上变的更好。不幸的是,产品管理往往是公司内最具政治性的工作之一,因为它跨职能的性质,你将不得不处理和许多人的利益冲突问题。

Domain knowledge is also very important. Let’s say you manage a product that servers call centers representatives. If you never worked in a call center or worked on related product, how do you know what features/enhancements should be added to the product? How do you know customers’ needs and pain points? Unfortunately, most new college graduates lack the domain knowledge.

专业知识也非常重要。比方说,你管理着一个服务于呼叫中心坐席代表的产品。如果你从来没有在呼叫中心工作过,或使用过相关的产品,你又如何知道哪些特征/需要增强的功能应该被添加到产品中呢?你又如何知道客户的需要和痛处呢?不幸的是,大多数新的大学毕业生缺乏这些专业的知识。

I have no doubt that a lot of the new graduates can make decisions on their feet. However, as a product manager, the decision you make requires experience — e.g. which feature should be ranked higher? Which feature should be triaged? Should you roll back a new feature due to a limited system outage? How should the company react to a difficult customer’s unreasonable request? It helps if you have accumulated experiences in one or several areas in the company before you move to product management. Your experience will help you make better, more informed decision.

我毫不怀疑,许多新的毕业生可以敏捷地作出决定。但是,作为一个产品经理,你做出的决定是需要经验的 – 例如,哪些特征应该级别更靠前?哪些特征应该被分类?你如何把一个新的特征压到标准水平来应对一次有限的系统中断?公司应该如何应对难缠客户的无理要求?如果你在公司的一个或者几个领域积累了经验,那么这将有助于你转型为产品经理。你的经验将帮助您做出更好,更明智的决定。

I’m a little bit less concerned about the last two criteria (i.e. communication skills and technical skills), because I do think some new college graduates are pretty good at these two areas.

我倒是不太担忧最后两个标准(即沟通能力和技术能力),因为我确信一些新的大学毕业生在这两个方面相当不错。

But, overall, I think that most college graduates are better off by working in one or several functional areas in the company before transitioning to product management — e.g. sales, sales engineer, post-sales consultant, research & development, support, etc. are all good starting point for your first job after college.

但是,总体而言,我认为大多数的大学毕业生先在公司中的一个或几个领域工作,然后再转型为产品经理要更好一些- 如销售,销售工程师,售后咨询,研发,支持等等,这对于你大学毕业后的第一份工作都是一个很好的起点。

Of course, there is always exception — some kids are so bright and capable that they can become a product manager in no time. But, I think for most people, you’ll be a better product manager if you spend your time to hone your skills in each of the areas above before you move into product management.

当然,总是会有一些例外-一些家伙就是很聪明,很有能力,他们能够在任何时候成为产品经理。但是,我认为对于大部分人来说,在你转型为产品经理之前,如果你花时间在多个领域磨练你的能力,你将会成为一个更好的产品经理。

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