Any Developer, who loves to burn the midnight oil just whacking away at the keyboard and staring at what would seem to be THE MATRIX to a layman, would be scandalized if not apoplectic to think about a move to a Program Manager role.

This post is for all those developers out there who | -  (managed || managing || planning) - |  to brave the public ridicule at the hands of their developer buddies.

I had in the summer of 2011, applied to couple of Program Manager Positions in and outside Microsoft after close to 4 years as a Dev .My experience allowed me to draw stark contrasts and at the same time appreciate stunning similarities in how Top Tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft Interview Program Managers.

Post my interviews , i just wanted to jot down a couple of things i felt any SDE\SDET looking for a role change to Program Management should definitely look into and be prepared for before applying for the job within or outside your organization

Be REALLY clear about why you want to be a Program Manager

Why PM? -  is one sure shot question you can expect.

If you are making the transition for all the right reasons, you are not going to have any trouble with this question :)

Irrespective of your clarity about the Program Manager Role it would be a good idea to go through the below resources

Zen of PM

PM at Microsoft

Apply ONLY to teams that work on stuff that you are passionate about

The above statement is simple common sense, but it’s surprising how many people move for the sake of changing the role , location or the company. My advice , wait out whatever frustration or need that is driving you and apply to something that you are passionate and excited about . Something that you are going to enjoy working day in and day out .

Believe me the passion that you feel is evidently going to come out during the interview , and that will go a long way in helping the team decide whether you are good fit or not.


Things to Research

  • Competitive Landscape
  • Technological Trends
  • Authoritative Material and Text books on the domain
  • Publications

Questions like

"Where do you see this product in 10 years”,

"Look into a crystal ball and tell me what you see"

"Compare our product \ technology against a successful competitive product"

"If you are the Product Owner what would you do"

These are great open ended questions that you can use to have an awesome discussion with you interviewer, provided you have researched exhaustively . This helps you describe your vision for the technology\ product as well as helps the interviewers to gauge your strategic insight.

Get some PM Experience beforehand

Try shadowing a PM in your team and experience first hand the role and responsibility of a PM before deciding on the Transition . Or ask your manager to give you a technical lead role for a release , to build up important PM competencies like collaboration and communication

Showcase your Side Projects

If your passionate about a particular product line or technology , you would have at some point written some extensions or applications that enhance the functionality or showcase the capabilities of the product or technology . Make sure you mention that in your resume as well as create opportunities during the interview to talk about it.