My friend Abdullah Memon was very passionate about breaking into Product Management when he was set to graduate from his B.Comm Degree at Ryerson in 2018. He had focused on doing all of his internships in product roles at places like Canadian Tire Corporation, CIBC, and RBC. He had a clear goal and direction, similar to myself.
He even made a legendary LinkedIn post describing how he wanted to interview at Wealthsimple and asked if anyone could tag the CEO in the post, for which many people did, and he landed an interview.
Although he did not end up landing the job there due to lack of hiring tickets, he learned that Product Roles often require specific entry points, and are very attainable if you focus your time in the right areas.
So I asked him for what advice he could share with other students, and here it is:
What Companies Hire Associate Product Managers?
They tend to fall into three types…
1 – Big tech companies with APM programs: the likes of Google, Uber, Lyft, Facebook, Quora, etc. These are established rotational-type programs where you learn and work closely with a PM and do the tactical day to day work of a “product owner” – such as writing user stories, working with design and dev to clarify requirements, share insights from data, talk to customers, etc. While the PM owns the product roadmap and strategy, and leads the vision for the team. You’re getting your feet dirty and learning by supporting the team.
2 – “Mid-sized” companies leveraging APM programs: Some small to mid-sized companies will hire APMs and they’ll structure a program around it. These are common in places like Toronto where the bigger tech companies don’t have the full rotational programs. The purpose of this is to transition people into PM, and they often target people who already have 2-5 years of experience in consulting, engineering, marketing, sales, customer success, etc. Similar to the above, you’re learning by supporting the team but rather than a 18-24 month program, it’s usually 6 months-ish. Not common for new grads to get in, but it’s entry level into product nonetheless. (e.g.: see APM Toronto, where Shopify, Freshbooks, Wattpad, TWG, and others provide that kind of experience)
3 – Small companies hiring APMs: these are rare, but I’d say the most rewarding, because even as an APM, you’re very quickly forced into taking on the role of a PM. There’s no structured “program”, there’s very little training and you’re expected to just take ownership and do what needs to be done to help the product team succeed. You’ll also take on a bunch of other tasks surrounding it (as they say “in startups, you do way more than your role”) like product marketing, sales demos, documentation, support, etc. It’s overwhelming and demanding but a big experience boost.
If you have any other questions or tips to add, feel free to get in touch!