how to get project management experience

How to Get Project Management Experience at Work 

Ever felt ready to take the lead on a project you’ve been eyeing for months, only to be sidelined by lack of experience? Or struggle with managing interpersonal dynamics? 

Project management isn’t just about overseeing tasks—it involves planning, execution, monitoring, and more. 

On top of that, companies often prioritize technical knowledge and certifications, making it challenging to break into this field without prior experience.

However, there are practical ways to learn how to get project management experience right where you are. Whether it’s mastering essential PM tools or building a career from the ground up, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s have a look! 🏊

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Practical Ways to Gain Project Management Experience

Building a successful career in project management requires more than just theoretical knowledge—it demands real-world experience and practical skills. 

Here are some strategies that will help you develop your project management skills, empowering you to excel in any field, regardless of your managerial journey. 🧑‍💻

1. Volunteer for projects to build skills

You’ll gain practical project management experience to assist your career development by actively seeking out and volunteering for projects. This is one of the easiest ways to gain experience. Here’s how:

  • Find suitable projects: Look for projects in your current or desired organization that match your interests, goals, and skills. For example, if you’re interested in product ops, check out any potential project collabs available in the team
  • Work with diverse teams: Aim for projects involving cross-functional teams, stakeholders, and clients to gain exposure to various aspects of project management, like communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. For instance, you can volunteer to help organize a charity run in your organization. This involves collaborating with marketing, logistics, and finance teams and communicating with sponsors and volunteers. You’ll gain experience in coordination, problem-solving, and working with diverse groups
  • Seize everyday opportunities: Keep an eye out for chances to volunteer to manage ‘project-like’ efforts in everyday settings like planning team dinners, assisting in organizing fundraisers, or coordinating training sessions 

2. Learn from mentors

A mentor can guide and challenge you, helping you grow professionally and personally. They provide feedback, advice, and insights on planning, executing, and evaluating projects, as well as handling challenges.

Finding a mentor involves identifying your project management goals and looking for suitable mentors within your organization, industry, or professional associations. Experiencing a day in the life of a project manager can be particularly insightful. 

You can request stretch assignments within your current role, allowing you to briefly try out another role within your current organization.

Initially, it may be difficult to trust and build a relationship with a mentor, but you can easily overcome these issues with commitment, clear communication, and openness to feedback.

The best thing about mentorship was practical assignments. My mentor suggested examples of different situations, and I had to resolve them. For example, “What will you do if someone comes to you with a Hunting Case?” or “A customer approaches you a day before the end of the sprint and wants to change the requirements, what will you do?

These were the business cases that helped me develop the Project Manager skills and understand how to act in different situations. The mentorship lasted for almost four months, and during that period, we had regular weekly calls. Working with a mentor helped me get closer to daily PM’s tasks, think about how to resolve those tasks, receive valuable feedback, and continue working while improving my knowledge and Project Manager skills. It is precious to have a person next to you who is interested in your growth and helps you wherever possible.

Artur Dmytryshyn, Project Manager, Softserve

3. Join and learn from professional communities

There’s always a smarter and better way to complete your tasks than your current one. The best way to discover these improved methods is by connecting with others in your field or community. 

Attend project management conferences and seminars to gain fresh perspectives and learn new strategies.

These communities and groups help tackle challenges, share insights, and achieve greater success. But you need to choose the right organization/group based on your location, work, and certification goals.

Prominent organizations include:

  • Project Management Institute (PMI), USA
  • International Project Management Association (IPMA), Netherlands
  • Association for Project Management (APM), UK
  • Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), Australia

4. Leverage real-world experience

Real-world experience is crucial for aspiring project managers like you because it bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

Experiences gained through various mediums equip you with practical skills and knowledge, fuel your professional network, enhance your resume, and provide opportunities for career advancement.

Based on your degree, prior experiences, and opportunities, you can explore:

  • Side hustles: Freelance or part-time jobs that let you manage projects on a smaller scale and at your own pace. For instance, if you have a background in marketing, you could freelance as a social media campaign manager, overseeing project timelines, budgets, and deliverables. This flexibility is ideal if you have other commitments
  • Internships: A structured (and supportive) learning environment with mentorship from experienced professionals will help you develop the necessary skills and expertise
  • Entry-level jobs: Positions like administrative assistant, business analyst, or project coordinator offer relevant project management experience and foundational knowledge without the pressure of senior roles. For example, working as a project coordinator at a construction company would involve managing schedules, coordinating resources, and tracking progress—essential tasks that contribute to your understanding of project management principles

5. Develop skills with personal projects

If finding opportunities and volunteering proves difficult, consider creating your own project. Choose something that aligns with your interests and resources, and follow the project management process from start to finish.

Here are some examples of personal projects you could take on and the skills you could develop that would be relevant to project management:

Start a blog or YouTube channel

Launch a blog or YouTube channel focusing on a topic you’re passionate about, such as technology, cooking, or travel. Skills developed include:

  • Content planning: Develop a content calendar and plan topics for future posts or videos
  • Project execution: Create and publish content regularly, ensuring consistency and quality
  • Marketing and promotion: Promote your content on social media, engage with your audience, and analyze engagement metrics.
  • Time management: Balance content creation with other personal and professional responsibilities
  • Problem-solving: Address challenges such as technical issues, content ideas, and audience feedback

Design and build a personal website or portfolio

Create a website or online portfolio to showcase your skills, projects, and professional achievements. Skills developed include:

  • Website design: Plan and design the layout, content structure, and visual elements of your website
  • Content creation: Write compelling copy, create multimedia content, and showcase your work effectively
  • Technical skills: Learn web development basics, such as HTML, CSS, and content management systems (CMS)
  • SEO and online presence: Optimize your website for search engines (SEO), promote it through social media, and manage your online reputation
  • Continuous improvement: Update and refine your website based on user feedback, industry trends, and personal growth

Work efficiently with project management templates to build a strong portfolio. This will allow you to practice and apply your skills in a real-world context, providing valuable experience and an opportunity to showcase your ability to lead and manage projects, impressing potential employers.

6. Enhance knowledge with EdTech and certifications

Excelling in project management requires more than just textbook knowledge; it demands practical skills and continuous learning. This is where educational technology (EdTech) and certifications become invaluable.

EdTech comprises many tools, such as online courses, educational software, virtual classrooms, and mobile learning apps. These resources offer the flexibility to learn at your own pace, making balancing your professional and personal commitments easier.

By engaging in online courses, you can cover a wide range of project management methodologies, tools, and techniques in innovative ways. From learning foundational PM principles to advanced practices, there’s much to explore and gain.

Ultimately, this increases your value as a capable project manager.

Project management skills are useful across a broad range of what we think of as creative jobs, especially when you’re looking at smaller agencies. An agency with 15 staff probably doesn’t have a dedicated project manager. That’s where something like the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) can be helpful. Maybe your producer doesn’t have the time to focus on a PMP, but they can still get a lot of benefit on their projects by using some of the basic project management skills that can be learned with less of a time investment. Or maybe you’re a bit bigger and you have a project manager, but they don’t have others within the agency to learn from. Whether or not your title is project manager, the skillset is applicable.

Matt AustinVP of Project Management, JELLYFISH
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Top Project Management Certifications for Experience

Without continuous learning and certifications, there will always be someone more knowledgeable and ready to step into your role as a more capable project manager.

Take project management certifications to validate your expertise, open doors to new opportunities, and demonstrate your commitment to excellence for employers and clients. 

One such globally recognized certification is the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification by the PMI.

PMP certificate holders can earn up to 22% more than non-certified professionals. To earn this certification, you must pass a 180-question exam covering People (42%), Process (50%), and Business Environment (8%).

Apart from the significant financial benefit, the PMP certification also certifies (like literally) that you are highly skilled in:

  • Motivating teams across all project phases
  • Choosing the best approach for each project (agile, hybrid, etc.)
  • Showcasing project success and its effect on organizational goals

Before applying, make sure you meet one of the requirements.

  • Four-year college/degree 
  • 36 months of project leadership experience in the past eight years
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification


  • High school diploma
  • 60 months of project leadership experience in the past eight years
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® certification

The exam fee is $405 for PMI members and $575 for non-members.

Other well-renowned project management courses include:

  • Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) by PMI
  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) by Scrum Alliance
  • Master Project Manager (MPM) by the American Academy of Project Management 
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Project Management Tools for Experience and Exposure

Experience and certifications provide the foundation for effective project management, but good software can enhance your skills. 

PM tools offer specialized features for streamlined workflows, real-time collaboration, advanced analytics, and automated reporting, simplifying the management of complex projects.

Did you know that 73% of business leaders prioritize reliability, ease of use, and integration in digital PM software? However, they believe that current solutions fall short in these areas. 

Because in a project management role, you are expected to help:

  • Save time and improve efficiency
  • Enhance team communication and collaboration
  • Increase project visibility and transparency
  • Improve resource allocation and workload management
  • Make data-driven decisions based on project insights

A good resource allocation tool may not have the in-app messaging you need to keep information centralized. However, ClickUp for Project Management addresses these concerns with a reliable, user-friendly platform that integrates with other tools, providing the best resources for your project needs.

Let’s explore the features of this project management software in more detail.

Streamlined workflows 

Create detailed project plans and break them into manageable tasks with ClickUp Tasks

ClickUp Tasks
View Tasks in multiple lists and track their progress with custom statuses to clearly understand how tasks are related, making it easier to manage cross-functional work

Features like ClickUp Custom Fields, Dependencies, and Task Priorities provide context, streamline processes, and help prioritize work efficiently.

Task Priorities
Add information unique to your project with Custom Fields and set Dependencies with ease

Real-time collaboration

We use all sorts of communication channels for different people, like emailing senior management and messaging interns for project updates. And I get it. Keeping track of all these conversations can get pretty tricky, making it hard to stay focused on projects.

ClickUp Chat View brings all these conversations into one platform, enabling seamless coordination, quick resolution, and clear communication throughout the project.

ClickUp Chat
Use @mentions within ClickUp to start a conversation with team members and assign tasks via comments

ClickUp Whiteboards revolutionize collaboration, breaking down distance barriers. This feature allows you to connect with your team, brainstorm, share notes, and facilitate strategic planning.

ClickUp Whiteboards
Turn your concepts and ideas into actionable tasks within Whiteboards by creating Tasks directly or linking to existing Tasks

Customize access levels for each collaborator with ClickUp Docs to keep everyone updated with the right information and share resources publicly or privately.

ClickUp Docs
Work simultaneously with your team on Docs, minimizing the need for extensive back-and-forth for feedback

Advanced analytics

Data is everything. It reveals insights about your team’s performance, project timelines, resource allocation, and potential risks.

ClickUp Dashboards is particularly effective here.

ClickUp Dashboards
ClickUp Dashboards allows you to track progress, align team workflows, and stay updated on team efforts

It allows you to visualize key metrics and data through customizable widgets, including ClickUp Goals, charts, task lists, ClickUp Time Tracking, and more.

ClickUp Goals
Add ClickUp Goals as one of your widgets to track progress with measurable targets and centralize various departmental goals

Automated reporting

ClickUp Automations offers over 100 automations to automate routine tasks, saving time and reducing manual workload. 

Project shortcuts, dynamic assignees, and email automation enable you to focus on the project management lifecycle instead of getting bogged down with repetitive administrative tasks.

ClickUp Automations
Streamline your tasks with a variety of automation ranging from assigning tasks to updating statuses and changing task types

ClickUp Brain’s AI project manager automates essential project management tasks such as updating task statuses, summarizing project progress, and managing projects and workflow details.

ClickUp Brain
Get instant status reports and summaries related to Tasks, projects, and Docs with ClickUp Brain, saving time and ensuring precision
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Building a Career from Project Management Experience

An estimated 1,279,390 project management and business operations specialists are employed throughout the United States. A strong project management portfolio is key to standing out to potential employers, clients, or project sponsors.

A project management portfolio is a collection of work samples, achievements, and testimonials extending beyond your resume. It showcases your unique experiences, skills, and value as a project manager. 

This collection attracts new opportunities and effectively communicates your qualifications, setting you apart from the crowd of professionals in the field.

We’ll walk you through five simple steps to create an impressive PM portfolio. 💼

Step 1: Collect information

  • Gather all relevant documentation and materials from past projects
  • Curate the most compelling examples showcasing your skills

Suppose you worked on a software development project requiring you to manage a team of 10 developers to deliver a new product. In this case, gather the project charters, status reports, and meeting minutes.

Step 2: Prioritize and organize

  • Prioritize projects based on their impact, relevance to the job role that you’re applying for, or chronologically
  • Organize project details, including scope, objectives, timelines, and budgets

For example, you may prioritize a project where you implemented Agile methodologies, showcasing how it improved team efficiency by 20% and reduced project delivery time by 30%.

Step 3: Choose your format

  • Select a suitable format for your portfolio, such as PDFs with clickable links, a dedicated website, your LinkedIn profile, or a video presentation
  • Ensure compatibility with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to maximize the visibility of your application

Step 4: Build your portfolio

  • Construct a project profile with quantitative metrics and qualitative insights
  • Highlight your role, key responsibilities, challenges faced, and solutions implemented
  • Use visual aids such as graphs, charts, or screenshots to illustrate achievements

💡Pro tip: When building project profiles, use tools like Earned Value Analysis and SWOT analysis to show your analytical skills in evaluating project outcomes and driving improvement. This approach showcases your strategic thinking and boosts the credibility of your project management accomplishments.

Step 5: Get feedback and refine

  • Seek feedback from mentors or hiring managers to refine the content and presentation
  • Review for clarity, grammar, and formatting errors
  • Regularly update your portfolio to reflect new projects and skills
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Enhance Your Project Management Job Applications and Interviews

We have compiled essential tips to help you showcase your expertise and stand out in this competitive field.

Whether you’re refining your resume, preparing for behavioral questions, or researching potential employers, these insights can help secure your next project management opportunity.

  • Highlight relevant experience and certifications like PMP
  • Research thoroughly and understand the company’s projects and culture
  • Practice common interview questions
  • Demonstrate your interest in the company and role by asking thoughtful and relevant questions
  • Showcase your communication, teamwork, and adaptability skills, as they are crucial in project management roles
  • Follow up by sending a thank you email after the interview
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Pathway To a Successful Project Management Career

Despite the initial challenges, gaining hands-on project management experience is within reach—whether through volunteering, mentorship, or your projects.

With the right skills, certifications, and PM portfolio, you can convert your experience into a successful career.

The key is to keep learning and practically use what you’ve learned. You can apply frameworks like the PMBOK principles for successful project management and leverage ClickUp’s Project Management Software for customizable task management, in-depth analytics, and collaboration features.

Get started with ClickUp today!

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