Breaking into PM from non-technical background

Facebook Zyfr
Mar 24, 2018 29 Comments

So I am currently a Product Marketing Manager at Facebook but am really interested in product management. I feel like on the pmm side I don't have much voice or influence in shaping the actual product. I think I have strong product sense and user understanding that would enable me to be a good PM.

My big worry is I don't have a strong techical background. If I really want to be a PM, should I do a coding bootcamp or something? I feel like I don't need to code to be a good pm but just need better techical understanding in general to be able to effectively work with engineers and better understand techical challenges. Is there any sort of course for this specifically because I don't think it's actually the coding skills themselves that I am after if that makes sense.

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TOP 29 Comments
  • Microsoft PMx
    I’d recommend reading Swipe to Unlock rather than learning how to code through a bootcamp.

    It's a book that breaks down technical knowledge (algorithms used products we use everyday, how apis work, how machine learning is being used in the industry) in easy to understand cases.

    This book was invaluable for me when I interviewed for a PM role, and I know a lot of friends who applied from marketing/business development backgrounds who prepared with this book. I think it was written by a Google PM actually.

    And then check out Decode and Conquer if you if you want to prep for actual PM interview questions and learn the frameworks and such.
    Mar 24, 2018 1
    • Facebook Zyfr
      OP
      This book looks PERFECT for what I am looking for. Thank you soo much!!
      Mar 24, 2018
  • Beachbody / Product
    gradients

    Beachbody Product

    PRE
    Riot Games
    gradientsmore
    Your biggest challenge is fear and you are using code ability as an excuse. :)
    Mar 24, 2018 1
    • Microsoft 810today
      Best msg in this thread
      Mar 25, 2018
  • Microsoft [
    PM at Microsoft is a mostly non technical job. We have had secretaries (admin) become PMs
    Mar 24, 2018 7
    • Microsoft / Eng AmIEwok
      A PM at Microsoft is basically a secretary for the team.
      Mar 24, 2018
    • Microsoft 810today
      Secretary/admins have taken up other kinds of work as well in their careers after learning and taking a chance,, doesn't mean PM work is so useless that anybody can do it
      Mar 25, 2018
    • Microsoft / Eng AmIEwok
      It’s not useless, but anybody who is organized and has basic communication skills can do it. A secretary has those already.
      Mar 25, 2018
    • Microsoft 810today
      What skills and experiences as per you would justify a senior/principal PM or higher titles? Assuming you are a technical person, what would you like to see in a successful PM?
      Mar 25, 2018
    • Microsoft / Eng AmIEwok
      Goood question.
      Mar 25, 2018
    • Microsoft / Eng AmIEwok
      Jokes aside, If your scope increases, either in PM or engineering, that’s where you get moved to Senior and Principal.
      Mar 25, 2018
    • Microsoft mOTy75
      PMs at MS used to be fairly technical, but now many of them have very little idea of how engs actually build software, and they ask a lot of ridiculous questions.

      Working with technical PMs is awesome! Non-technical ones...not so much.
      Mar 25, 2018
  • Google / Ops Huhf13
    MSCS or boot camp aren't bad ideas
    Mar 24, 2018 7
    • Facebook Zyfr
      OP
      Can I get a ms in cs with no previous coding background?
      Mar 24, 2018
    • IBM DaEI86
      UChicago Masters Program in CS encourages people without a CS background to apply. Check it out.
      Mar 24, 2018
    • Facebook Zyfr
      OP
      Thanks for the tip. I'll look into it
      Mar 25, 2018
    • Expedia ]^}+|£¥
      Not trolling but how would people without a CS background study and learn a Grad school level stuff?
      Mar 25, 2018
    • IBM DaEI86
      There’s one that’s research oriented (for those with that background) and one that’s professional in nature (no research). Definitely wouldn’t call the professional program a typical ms in cs but you do still graduate with an ms in cs. Just check it out. They have a foundational portion of their curriculum for people without that background.
      Mar 25, 2018
    • Microsoft / Eng corpcult
      In my experience, most universities still require undergrad CS prereqs that are satisfied by a BSCS. Sounds like you're more interested in the entrepreneurial path of having a lot of say about what the product should do as opposed to what it can do. I wouldn't recommend an MSCS in your case. I'm working full time and almost done with my MSCS. It takes a while when you're balancing so much. I'd advise looking into a MOOC style of coursework where you can get idea of how to write software in various ways and get the certs showing you've completed. MSCS is great but it's a long commitment and requires a lot of prior knowledge to do well.
      Mar 25, 2018
    • IBM DaEI86
      As I stated above, this is not the case with all programs (ex. UChicago specifically has s program for people like this) - https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/page/ms-computer-science-immersion.Similarly NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering offers a bridge curriculum (1 semester) for their MS in CS for people with zero CS background - known as “A Bridge Program to NYU Tandon”. See engineering.nyu.edu/academics/online/programs/bridge. So no, you don’t need a lot of prior knowledge (depending on the program). Yes, it’s a big time commitment -although UChicago’s Masters Program in Computer Science, can be done part time over two years. The same applies to NYU Tandon’s MS in CS program (if done online).

      So to corpcult’s point, yes *most* programs do require a lot of background knowledge, but not all do. The program corpcult is doing probably assumed a lot of that prior knowledge whereas these don’t. If you ask me, the programs I’ve shared are B.S. programs disguised as M.S. programs, but I think that’s still valuable based on your needs.
      Mar 25, 2018
  • Amazon / Product
    XiJin69

    Amazon Product

    PRE
    AMD, EY
    XiJin69more
    Facebook and Instagram are the two orgs which don’t need Tech skills for a PM. Apart from that Amazon has ton of non-tech PMs.
    Mar 24, 2018 0
  • Coursera Pznj83
    I know of many product marketing managers that transitioned directly to a PM role, including some at Facebook
    Mar 24, 2018 0
  • Apple saladBar
    Many EPMs at Apple don’t have or need coding / CS skills. The successful ones are good at communicating, organizing, managing up and interacting with design/ QA etc. to keep projects on track. A foundation in CS is a useful addition but not a pre-requisite given your background. But Udacity has some good courses.
    Mar 24, 2018 0
  • Microsoft hoodi
    There are some less technical PM jobs at Amazon and Microsoft that can provide an entry point - alternatively find projects with small dev teams and a swamped PM that you can work with and start helping them
    Mar 24, 2018 0
  • New / Eng
    QtlW87 a

    New Eng

    BIO
    Eng at Hyper Anna
    QtlW87 amore
    I've noticed a few of the newer Product Managers I've worked with have actually had data analytics or business analyst backgrounds, not tech.
    Mar 24, 2018 0
  • Microsoft H1B4Life
    I work in Product Management and analytical skills are a must. Coding not do much but being technical helps a lot.
    Mar 24, 2018 0
  • HoneyBook rHzU04
    The easiest way to transition to a PM role is to do it at a company you are currently at. If you are doing well in your reviews at FB, ask about an internal transfer.
    Mar 24, 2018 0
  • BrightFunnel DXWg77
    PM is at the intersection of Engg, Design and Business. You have to be good at all three but great at two. If you have great product sense (design) and can substantiate that with projects and are also very strong at the business / domain side, then all you need is an solid understanding of system design / how things work.
    Mar 24, 2018 0
  • LinkedIn maxrebo
    Huh? PMMs at Facebook switch over to PM all the time. More specifically monetization PMMs do since they more strongly influence product. Consumer PMMs do not.
    Mar 24, 2018 0

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