How do you build "product experience" to break in?

carmin's profile thumbnail
Not sure what type of product experience you are referring to here. You seemed to be focused more on engineering, however product experience is not just about that. I'd suggest taking an idea, whatever it is, think about what you'd like to solve there, sketch some stuff down, then creating some lo-fi mockups, strapping them together in a prototype and do some user testing out in the real world. That offers a lot of valuable insight not only into what people think about what you have worked on but also about yourself. You learn how to listen, how to ask questions without giving away the answer, and it's an experience that every person involved in the process of building something should have.There are free tools that you can use, such as figma and xd and they are very easy to learn and use.
Thanks Carmin! I have experience that closely translates to the ideation, market/user research, strategy parts of PM work. I'm looking to build experience related to thinking about UX/UI design, working with devs/engineers to build, and iterating/experimenting.
carmin's profile thumbnail
Then the above exercise is the best you can do. UX is related to how you ask questions more than engineering. The prototype doesn't have have to be complicated and you can find a ton of guerrilla testing materials online that you can use for your sessions. Hope it all goes well! Good luck and try to find the advantages of what you are currently working as. There's got to be something there that gives you a bit of an edge - use that to your advantage in terms of your workflow and the way you look at things.
sfortunato's profile thumbnail
My typical advice for folks looking to transition to PM from both technical and non-technical roles is to focus on an industry you know well (even if you don't love it). It's hard to switch roles and industries at the same time, and having subject matter expertise to lean on as a new PM is really helpful. Depending on your timeline, it sounds like you might want to switch to another company with more modern/standard engineering practices (agile iteration, user stories & backlog grooming sessions, etc), as an engineer, kick ass for 6-12 months, & buy a lot of PMs coffee to hear about their path. Then you'll get more exposure to different versions of the role, and build credibility. It's pretty easy for PMs to sniff out a product-oriented engineer during backlog grooming & planning sessions.Re: getting the most out of hackathons /building something yourself - go after problems you're interested in and understand, think about what's build-able. A big part of the usefulness of both of these exercises is starting to make tradeoffs about what the most important feature is, or what can be cut/punted. To that end, it may also be worth poking around product hunt and/or paul graham's blog and/or other startup oriented writing, since startups and product sense go hand in hand. This is 2019's favorite article about product/market fit: https://firstround.com/review/how-superhuman-built-an-engine-to-find-product-market-fit/
Awesome article, Susanne. Thanks for sharing! The walkthrough of how their survey insights changed when they segmented the users is so much fun to read about.Really appreciate your specific advice too - especially on focusing on domain expertise and hackathons.
emilypatterson's profile thumbnail
The best way to get familiar with the whole role of PM is to shadow a PM as they go through their day and interactions. I'm not sure if this is something you can necessarily put on your resume, but if you can find a local mentor to shadow for a few days, it would be really helpful.There are also a lot of new no-code platforms out there that you can throw up a prototype app on pretty quickly - a good alternative to learning CSS. Bubble and Airtable come to mind, not sure about $$ though. Scoping a MVP, building it out, and then doing some documentation for it would be a great exercise for a new to PM person.Good luck!
Thanks Emily! These are two great suggestions that I haven't considered before. Looks like there's a no-code meetup group in my city. I'm going to try to attend one of their events to see if I could use those platforms to build something.