It’s a pretty big deal to work in product management, a job that’s ranked third-best in Glassdoor’s 2020 list. The site also suggests a strong demand for product managers, citing over 14,000 open roles with a median salary of $121,107. LinkedIn, another job search site, likewise has over 200,000 product manager listings at the time of writing.
The workforce appears to be hungry for talented product managers, so why are we not hearing more about the potential entryways into this growing field? In fact, a lot of people still struggle to understand the skills required to pursue this career path.
The reason may lie in the field’s broad scope. Product management comes with a lot of interconnected processes and overlapping responsibilities. In general, it involves planning, developing, and supporting a company’s products.
However, what exactly are the skills needed to become a product manager? Hoping to simplify the path is Co.Lab, a training platform dedicated to helping people acquire relevant product management skills with a structured, eight-week program.
Co.Lab is a portfolio-building platform for junior designers, PMs, and developers to collaborate and launch real-world projects.Apply to Co.Lab today.
An Overview of Co.Lab’s Product Management Course
Co.Lab is a cross-functional, team-based training provider offering a well-rounded Product Management track. This program teaches students the fundamentals of product management and helps them actually plan, ship, and present products in a tangible and digestible way.
The Product Management track at Co.Lab is an eight-week course that includes around 17 live classes—lasting over 20 hours— all of which revolve around defining and validating problems, working with a technical team, strategies in marketing a product, and all the other fundamentals of product management.
Week 1 of the program consists of the kick-off for the actual course content. This is when learners meet their designers, mentors, and cohorts and identify where leadership will lie in their product groups.
In Week 2, learners meet the entire team of developers and begin to align themselves on the product vision. This is when the real building phase begins. Now, onto trial and error.
From Week 3 to Week 7, learners will go through the software development life cycle where the actual development and revision take place. In the same way that Co.Lab creates a sandbox for learners to work through challenges, it also creates realistic restraints and simulates the real-world pressure of product management deadlines.
Before Week 8 begins, learners present their minimal viable product (MVP) and prepare to pitch and demo it. The final week, naturally, consists of product wrap-up and presentations.
The 3Ps of Product Management Success at Co.Lab: Practice, Participate, and Partnership
Co.Lab simulates the workplace environment to teach product management in a way that isn’t just theoretical. While many bootcamps and other schools tend to focus on abstract concepts, Co.Lab makes its product management education a more hands-on experience.
Instead of using memorization or other passive learning techniques, Co.Lab learners work on real-world projects that are commissioned by real clients. This ensures that they have adequate project management experience that they can easily transfer to their next role.
Co.Lab also recognizes that customer and people skills are a huge part of product management success. One of the greatest benefits of taking the Product Management track with Co.Lab is that you will acquire crucial workplace skills while building a robust portfolio. This combination can impress potential employers because it demonstrates your ability to succeed on the job.
As you go through the program, you will not be learning in a vacuum. Co.Lab learners put their heads together to execute a vision for a product and bring it to life. This way, a strong sense of camaraderie and leadership is developed.
This is not necessarily an easy journey, according to Qifan Xi, a mentor at Co.Lab and the lead engineer at the 2020 Riot Games where his team shipped the popular game Valorant. However, this experience offers a crucial insight into the day-to-day of a product manager.
“There’s going to be a lot of situations where you’ll need to handle differences of opinions. And there’s going to be conflict—hopefully, healthy conflicts. But this is the stuff that is very difficult to teach in an academic environment and it’s very important in an industry setting,” he says.
“For example, if you don’t think that you can do something or if you think the project is too ambitious, you can actually speak to your team and do further discovery together.”
Product management requires excellent organizational and multitasking skills, and Co.Lab helps learners refine these abilities through its instructions. You will present a project scope that you will see through from start to finish. Just like any space where the goal is to learn, there’s a space to fail when need be.
Co.Lab provides students with a safe and inclusive space to ask questions and get the assistance and support they need in their journey. A team of dedicated mentors—industry professionals with experience working for tech giants like HBO Max, Apple, Microsoft, and more—is available to help students navigate any issue they may face.
“It was very encouraging for someone to say that you’re on the right track but here’s how to make it better,” Co.Lab student Ava Turner says. “I’m just really grateful for someone to share their time with me…for someone to care enough to say, ‘I want to give back and I want to help you and I’m going to help you by being there as often as you need me to’. I really appreciate having that mentor to help me improve because that’s what I’m really here for.”
Success Story: Co.Lab Grad Turned Microsoft Product Manager
Ayobami ‘Ayo’ Ayodeji’s success is a testament to the practical nature of Co.Lab’s educational approach. He was recently hired as a program manager at Microsoft but like any other modern career change, the journey was non-linear.
Ayodeji has explored multiple roles in tech, having tried his hand at engineering and data management. However, he struggled to see himself doing the same job for years to come. He then learned that product management is where he can let his leadership and technical expertise shine. That was how he found Co.Lab.
Throughout his experience with other resources, jobs, and also with Co.Lab, Ayodeji realized that the planning and problem-solving part of the process was what he wanted to devote his energy to—and so he did.
“Co.Lab gave me a platform not just to learn product management but to perform product management,” says Ayodeji.
His time at Co.Lab helped him realize that high school students in particular are engaging with the web largely on their mobile devices. From there, he developed a responsive web app and merged a side project to form BlackMINT’s Rising Star program with Co.Lab.
The program is an information hub for Black students looking for tech mentorship. Of his project, he says: “I launched a web app… which is now live by working with the designer and developer I was provided as a team. We would not have such a successful product if it wasn’t for Co.Lab.”
Wondering How You Can Join Co.Lab?
Co.Lab has put out so many cool projects and is home to an equally cool community of students and mentors. Visit Co.Lab for more info and consider applying today to begin your new career journey.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.