Transitioning into Product Management — 5 Ways

Aditya Garg
5 min readFeb 27, 2022
Credit: iStock

Transitioning into Product Management- a topic that is part of so many discussions for most of us. The role has grown exponentially from past few years with high demand in both product and even service industries in different ways. Multiple paths, processes and different options can be considered depending upon experience, opportunity and expectations.

The post is about different possible ways and what worked for me.

I started my career from Data Analytics and gradually moved into Product Management. While in analytics I was working closely with PMs that inculcated my interest towards product management. I decided to take the leap. After multiple discussions, connections, reading and study I got an opportunity as an entry level PM with a start-up where I learned and explored more about product management and was a full-time PM.

Before understanding ways to transition, you should explore why you should transition-

  • You enjoy working across functions and like to be in the intersection of technology, design and business
  • You enjoy solving people’s problem. Word to stress here, enjoy!
  • You like working with people from different domains and not in silos
  • You enjoy articulating and documenting- like strategy, vision, objectives, thoughts, user stories, product requirements
  • You like making decisions and be in the middle of the game. Also get stuff done but with influence and not authority
  • You prefer having the T skill i.e. more of breadth (multiple domains) and gradually include the depth (single domain)
  • You absolutely love studying and learning user behaviour, decision making and psychology

If you see yourself in alignment with these or even if few of these, then let’s move forward and know different possible ways. We’ll highlight ways possible for both fresh graduates and for people with some experience(any domain).

1. Internal transition

For people with experience.
It is one of the smoothest way of transitioning into PM. Find a process for internal transfer and way to show your skills by connecting with any product lead and your manager. Ask if you can help for any project and learn and show any product skill. You might work directly with the product team or with teams like engineering, design, user research, product analyst, product operations etc. Gradually prove your PM skills and move into full-time PM or a PM adjacent role.
Please be aware that this way is possible if you have spend some good time in your organisation and have build credibility.

2. Join an APM program

For fresh graduates and people with experience
There are companies(limited though) that run APM programs where you get the opportunity to work with some great products and across teams. This way is relatively competitive as the number of applications is high and intakes are less. In addition to this, there are also product internship openings from companies for product enthusiast.
You can read more about various APM programs in this blog by Kevin Wei
and Suhas Motwani. Also can find out the product internships here.

3. Certificate or Cohort Based Courses

For fresh graduates and people with experience
There are companies and communities that provide various PM CBCs (Cohort based courses) and certifications. These are 2 months to 6 months courses that help you in knowing product mindset, processes and networking.
Few points to keep in mind is that these courses/certifications gives you an exposure of how product management works and help in building a mindset and capability(to some extent) for the transition, but product management is one thing which comes when you do product management. Sadly, thats the dichotomy of it but still this way gives you an exposure and context that you can apply and demonstrate while transitioning.

Some useful resources:
- Udemy- Become a Product Manager
- Creators of Products
- The Product Folks- Insurjo
- OnThatJob
- Upraised- Career accelerator program(CAP)
- PM School
- The Product School

4. Join a start-up with a product related need

For fresh graduates and people with experience
This path worked for me.
I was working in analytics which sometimes included working closely with product managers. The interest triggered and I approached startups and showed my interest and developed some skills that were aligned with PM and ultimately got an opportunity to work as a product person for a startup.
For this option start approaching founders or product leads of various start-ups. Build skills, show your interest. You might have to work for product adjacent roles like Product Ops, Product Analyst etc in the initial phase. You even might have to step down to a relatively lower level but gradually as you double down you can grow really well and demonstrate your product skills by being a PM.

Option 4 and 5 goes very smooth together.

5. Build something

For fresh graduates and people with experience
For many roles like developers, designers they have their GitHub, portfolios where they showcase their work and side projects. In the same way I would suggest a product enthusiast or a PM to have a portfolio that shows their work and skills.

A portfolio can be anything like a website, document, Google drive, Notion etc. but build and showcase your work and skills.

In this era of no-code and low-code tools, even the folks with a non-tech background can create a product, prototype, design flow that highlights a solution.

Some of the ways can be:
- Find a problem around and try to create a solution for it. You even can explore Product Hunt for exploring new products or upload your solution.
- Take any existing product study, analyse and build ways you think it can be improved. Create a case study around it
- Product teardown- A great way to build product mindset and explore how these amazing products work in market. Understand how they solved a problem and create a presentation around it. If you have any suggestions, showcase that with the approach.

Some work from my portfolio:
Case Study/ Product teardown 1 , 2 , 3

The Roadmap

The path to transition can be little bumpy or long but once you take a stab at it, you’ll learn the game. It’s always good to start with identifying why product management and learn what does this goal expects. The above points can help you identify the fitment to some extent.
If you feel that this is your thing, find one or two ways mentioned above and start working on it.
While being on the path, learn and demonstrate your skills. Tangible output is the key. Connect with product communities, product experts and understand their path their daily work. Watch and attend mock interviews and get feedback.
Some of the resources for mock interviews:
The Product Folks

If anything is working for you, double down on it. If it is not working for you, try changing the approach.

Experiment, learn, deliver, or else pivot.

Experiment, learn, deliver, or else pivot.

All the best!