For project management professionals who are considering an advanced degree to propel their career, there are many aspects to consider. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota student and video blogger, Christine Reisel, provides information regarding the curriculum of the Master of Science in Project Management. She also discusses potential challenges and considerations for potential students as well as what a typical day is like for the program’s students.
Q&A with a Project Management Grad Student
Are there specific study tips that you would offer online masters in project management students?
“I would say that you should use the discussion boards often. By responding to more than just the minimum number of posts you can develop an understanding of the material quickly. Also ask your classmates questions or challenge them. It creates a knowledge building environment.
Breaking up assignments into smaller tasks helps me to not feel overwhelmed. For example, a typical assignment might be writing an 8-10 page paper. I will break it up and just focus on the sections. And if I can do that I’ll set a timer, write for 15 minutes, take a break for 10, write for another 15 etc. Before I know it the assignment is complete and I can focus over very specific applications of knowledge.
And if you’re looking for resources, use either the PMI.org website or use the back of the textbooks reference section to see what the other used for resources.”
How do you anticipate your project management degree will be utilized in the workforce?
“As a junior level project manager, I have started to apply my knowledge already. I will take suggestions of what my classmates do and I will try to implement them in my department at work. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. I have also become more confident and I think that will be increased as well, with the project management degree. I anticipate approaching issues with a different methodology since I will be able to look at a project and understand how all pieces need to flow.”
What is a typical day like for you as an online graduate student?
“Get up and go to work. I check my email throughout the day, since I have it on my phone. When I get home, and if my reading is done, I log in and check the discussion board and respond to any new posts. From there I attend class online. I then spend the remaining time working on papers or assignments. And finally, get some sleep!”
In your opinion, what is the best strategy for becoming a successful project manager?
“I think the best strategy to becoming a successful project manager is trying. It’s okay to make mistakes and understand that NO project plan is ever implemented with any issues or errors. Tasks or deliverables will be late or unforeseen risks can occur. To expect perfection will be a deterrent when it can’t be achieved. With that said, strive to do well.”
As an online graduate student, what is the biggest misconception you have found in terms of online education?
“I think the biggest misconception is that you won’t receive any support from your professors and that you’re doing this “on your own.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. While most professors have other jobs they are very accommodating and will get back to me in a reasonable time frame. All of my professors have given feedback when asked. In fact, I still keep in touch with the professor from my first class. I check in with her every now and then.”
For incoming M.S. in Project Management students, what advice or tips would you give to prepare fellow professionals for pursuing an advanced degree?
“Don’t give up. Let yourself make connections. Reach out for help from classmates & professors. Have fun!”
What types of support and tools at Saint Mary’s University have you found to be most helpful?
“I have used the templates that the Saint Mary’s online writing center offers. The iPad is an awesome tool; it allows me to never be far away from my studies.”
Communication is an important aspect of project management. What strategies have you been taught that you will utilize in the workplace?
“There are three strategies that I focus on: keeping emails short and succinct, updating the project plan often and being confident in myself!”
What has been the most challenging aspect of the M.S. in Project Management program and how have you overcome it?
“Personally the most challenging aspect of the program has been the reading. It seems that there is so much reading to do and almost no time to do it. I carry my books with me though and whenever I have a few minutes I try to get some reading done. I’ve also found myself creating my schedules and planning out when I’ll read the texts.”
If there are students who are unsure about enrolling in Saint Mary’s Project Management program, what would be your advice to those individuals?
“My advice to students who are unsure would be to enroll! Saint Mary’s Project Management program is excellent. You not only receive benefit towards your PMI certification, but the university is committed to new technology. The iPad is a nice bonus. I was scared when I first applied but looking back now I wish I had enrolled sooner. Whatever your hesitations about enrolling in the program, you won’t be disappointed with Saint Mary’s Project Management program.”