Adaptability and flexibility, communication, and problem solving

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Teresa and I currently live in Manchester. I graduated from The University of Manchester with my BSc Psychology degree in 2018 and my MSc Management degree in 2019. I am currently working as a Project Manager in an education technology consultancy. I have had the opportunity to work on large-scale cross-functional projects delivering adaptive assessments to thousands of school children across the UK.

How are adaptability and flexibility, communication, and problem solving important in your current role?

As a Project Manager, I need to be able to work in uncertain and complex environments where the solution isn’t necessarily clear-cut. As you can imagine, during the Covid-19 pandemic, school closures affected the delivery of many major projects. This meant I needed to work with the project team to quickly identify solutions that wouldn’t impact the overall date that the project went live. It is important to have strong problem solving skills so that you view challenges as opportunities for growth and don’t shy away from getting stuck in and finding a solution. Lastly, communication is one of the most important skills in project management. You need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with key stakeholders and the project team to ensure that everything goes according to plan.

How did you develop each of these skills during your degree?

I developed these skills from writing lab and business reports during my degrees. For example, writing lab reports during my psychology degree helped me to analyse information using statistics, and research possible explanations for experimental outcomes. During my management degree, communication skills were essential because most modules had an element of graded group work. Furthermore, I had to juggle extra-curricular activities and part-time work while studying at university so I had no choice but to be flexible and adapt to changes.

How did these skills help you get your first graduate job?

It is hard searching for a job right after university and it is easy to lose confidence, but I found that being proactive really helped me feel in control of the situation. I used multiple job boards to search for graduates jobs in project management. In fact, I found my current role in the Manchester Graduate Talent vacancy bulletin! I also spoke to Careers Consultants for advice on how to write applications and prepare for interviews. Additionally, I attended project management webinars and networked with people working within project management to help me understand the job role. Communication skills and having a problem solving mind set are key for the graduate job search.

What were the main factors that influenced your choice of first graduate job?

Starting a career in project management wasn’t something that I dreamed of since the beginning of my degree. In fact, I attended a free webinar called ‘How to start a career in Project Management’ out of curiosity and then realised that a lot of the skills needed for project management were things that I enjoyed. In my role I get to try new things and work with people who have a range of really interesting specialist skills, so I’m never bored. Another factor that influenced my decision to apply for my current role is that I wanted to stay in Manchester and not have to travel too far to get to work.