What to do with my free time?
February 21, 2012 1:09 PM   Subscribe

I have a pretty stable non profit job and plenty of free time. I'm considering getting a project management certification, is this a good idea? Any other recommendations?

I am kind of stuck when it comes to career development, but not ready to take on grad school yet. I would really like to start studying again, so I'm looking for something that will give my resume an edge, and I would like it to be HARD WORK, nothing too easy or meh. I am considering a project management certification, but I would love to hear particular recommendations. Here is my skillset:

I have a BS in Forest Engineering
I am good in Math
English is my second language, but I have written decent papers in the past
I am completely clueless when it comes to programming and computer science in general (but willing to learn)
Learning a new language wouldn't be my first choice, but you could convince me otherwise
I am pretty flexible about the future direction of my career, so realistic recommendations unrelated to my skills/experience are also welcome.
posted by Tarumba to Education (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Frankly, the classes I took in grad school related to project management were some of the only ones from which I consistently use what I learned. Even if you're not sure where your career is going, if you have the money, you'll probably get a lot out of a Project Management certification, or even just a class or two. Can't say it will necessarily give your resume an edge, but I find that it gives my work an edge.
posted by juniperesque at 1:14 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unless it's for a trade where certification is required before hiring, or some sort of specific skill set with a standardized exam (e.g. Cisco certification) you can safely assume that no one cares about certification. Of course, some people/companies do, but it'll be a very rare situation indeed that a certificate is going to give you the edge over someone with more relevant experience. If you take it, take it for the skills you'll use in the job you get, not in order to get the job.
posted by griphus at 1:22 PM on February 21, 2012

So the standard project management certification these days is the Project Management Professional or PMP. This is a shame since there are some real drawbacks with it. Typically you'll spend a week or two prepping then sit the exam. You will need real world PM experience and some 'book learning' to have a decent run at it. (You will also need to show that you have previous project management experience logged and audited (very easy)).

Will it help with your employment prospects? Well, yes, it could. More and more organisations are looking for it when they hire. Frankly despite my concerns with it I would have to recommend it for someone looking to break into PM'ing.

Is it hard? Not really, there's a lot of rote memorisation and the syllabus covers a lot of earned value calculations but that's about the toughest part. The real challenge is that the questions are phrased in a way that makes them very difficult to understand for a non English speaker - I don't know why they would do this but they do.

Ping me if you have any questions :)
posted by fingerbang at 1:35 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

PMP is a certification you can put on your resume.

You may also want to take a Managerial Accounting class so you understand how projects are evaluated financially. It isn't something that will stand out on a resume, but it will be useful to you.
posted by elmay at 4:07 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you do not want to do the PMP, plenty of schools offer certification from their programs. Certificates from academia, I notice, usually are 3-4 classes. It is another line item on your resume and if your firm is not doing much for you in the way of development it can be worthwhile.
posted by jadepearl at 6:17 AM on February 22, 2012

The PMP, if you're looking for a job that would require project management, at least here in DC, is a worthwhile investment of your time and funds. I worked on getting the CAPM which is a more specialized version of the PMP, but found I could get the PMP based on volunteering project management I'd done, as well as some other odd jobs. But I was also working for a company who worked on contracts that required persons with the PMP certification on them. So if you get into work where that's important (as well as a potentially salary boost), it's worth it. If you're just going to be an SME, it's not necessarily worth the time or money.

As far as learning programming the Code Academy team is offering an awesome "Code Year" learning program. Basically you get a new lesson each week to learn how to do some basic programming (as well as a little bit of java and some other languages). I've found it fun and informative, as one can never know too much about technology right now. You can find them at http://www.codeacademy.com (Also, as of the beginning of the year it was free!) I don't know anything about the .org code academy, other than it's paid and doesn't look as leisurely as you can go with the once-a-week coding courses offered by the .com
posted by bleachandink at 8:00 AM on February 22, 2012

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