This article was created by Ruojing Wang, based on her conversation with Thea Barton. Credit to Sanjay, who made the conversation happen. Credit to Svetlana and Anna, who provided edits and comments.

Sanjay, our chapter’s VP Membership and Volunteer introduced me to Thea, a new student member of PMI and Mass Bay Chapter. Currently, Thea is a senior at Boston Architectural College. She is interested in getting more involved with the PMI community and has checked out the available volunteer opportunities. However, she is not quite sure how to proceed to be a project manager and a PMP.

Getting to know Thea’s interests and questions, Sanjay asked me if I could connect with Thea as I have a background in urban design and development and have been at the crossroads of project management in design and construction for years.

I was impressed that Thea is so forward-thinking for her future. We had a 30-minute conversation on Zoom. We are two generations at different career phases. But we are inspired by each other. Approved by Thea and Sanjay, I have posted this blog with some themes from our conversation:

1. What brings you to PMI and Mass Bay Chapter?

Thea: I volunteer with Nonprofit organizations, where they ask for project management skills as many events need to be planned and managed. I am also applying for intern positions as a designer or project manager in architecture firms and that requires a project management background. I have taken a few of the free courses online and studied a few books just to get myself familiar with the basics.

Ruojing: I started my career as a building project designer and then became a design manager on a client side, and afterward, managed the urban development projects as a project manager. I took a course in project management at Boston University, where I learned that ways to manage projects can help you lead projects in any industry, not only in the traditional and predictive industry.

2. How to succeed in project management?
Thea: I have family members who have held PM roles or have studied it. What is necessary to be a successful project manager?

Ruojing: As an architecture student, you should have been educated to possess concrete skills increative thinking and design,  as well as the skills to collaborate with teams, communicate with stakeholders, and comply with codes and regulations.
In project management, there is a Talent Triangle framework that highlights three sides of skills a project manager should develop and hone continuously: Ways of Working, Power Skills, and Business Acumen. PMI defines these skills categories but in general, the skill sets include hard skills, soft skills, and the ability to steer the projects to align with organizational strategy and global trends.

3. Should I pursue PMP by taking a Master of Science in Project Management?

Thea: I found PMI through my research. I would like to get certification in the future. The BAC only has one project management course, and it’s worth one credit. I am confused about whether I should pursue PMP or by MS in Project Management.
Ruojing: If Boston Architecture College offers the course of Project Management, that is great. Take it and you can get to know the introduction to Project Management.
Also, there are other ways to prepare for PMP certification. Get involved in PMI and Mass Bay Chapter, you can learn online courses, prepare for the PMP exam, join webinars, and meet the people you can ask for. Keep your practice in your area with your techniques and project works. You will be requested to show your overall project work experience when you apply for the project management professional (PMP) certification and before you can schedule and sit for the PMP exam.

4. Do you feel like or perceive you have engaged the local community?
Thea: Well, this is my starting point. So far, I have met with Sanjay and am now meeting with you. Soon I will be meeting with Greg, and I do feel welcome. I am hoping to eventually join the mentorship program and I have thought about reaching out to some friends and fellow students at the BAC to see if anyone is interested. I am excited about this coming to a reality.

Ruojing: I joined PMI Mass Bay Chapter in 2022 during the Pandemic. Even though I have been a PMI member for many years, I had no idea about how to engage in the local chapter until I met our chapter’s EVP Bill Mackiewicz in the monthly Virtual Office Hour. Bill introduced me to the volunteering opportunities and helped me to connect with Svetlana, our VP Marketing. And Svetland led me to the track of creating, editing, and distributing the e-Blasts weekly for the chapter. The role requires me to follow the Chapter’s events and programs, which benefits me to stay fresh and improve in the realm.