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Behind the Scenes – Project Manager Career Sketch

A current college student asked me how I got into internet marketing, and what a typical day is like at my job. In case it would be useful to someone, I thought I’d post it here.

How did I get into internet marketing?

Unintentionally, but I’m sure happy I did.

I have a pretty funny career path so far, which you can see on my linkedin profile. I have a science doctorate, but I eventually found it kind of dry and unsatisfying, and I needed a more team-oriented work situation. After I left academia, I started as a technical writer for a science software firm. I became a project manager when I went to the owner of the company to discuss how a project I was on was foundering. He supported me learning more about project management (and other things). Since that time I moved very gradually from project management for software to web design and development to internet marketing. To round out my “on the job” experience, I pursued professional certification from the Project Management Institute, earning my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification in 2005.

My project management skills apply across fields, but I particularly like internet marketing because it is so quantitative and hypothesis-driven. It combines the science side of my brain with the people side of my brain. We can see the impact of implementing our recommendations relatively quickly, and iterate to make things even better. Software and web design projects take a long, long time. I suppose that I need quicker gratification and more data than I was getting in those two fields.

What is a typical day?

My daily schedule varies based on the day of the week and the time in the month. At our company, we do a fair bit of monthly reporting, so there is a monthly rhythm of analysis and reporting in the beginning of the month and implementing/following up later in the month. What this means is that the beginnings of my month focus on quality assurance for reports and having meetings with clients, and the ends of my months tend to center on coordinating next steps on approved items.

Our weekly schedule also has a rhythm. Monday mornings are internal time, where we as a company review the previous week and plan the coming one. We review budgets, deadlines, and projections.

As a project manager, I am involved superficially in many things. I answer client calls and emails, I coordinate with the team on deadlines and deliverables, I try to troubleshoot issues that emerge and clear a path so that the analysts can actually sit down and analyze things. I work with our calendars to schedule and move meetings (internal and with clients). I route and queue requests from clients and internal team members. I prioritize so that the team knows what must be done as opposed to what’s a nice to have. I have a lot of meetings and quick check-ins during the day. I also am on the phone a fair bit. I’m interrupted a lot. I suppose I also interrupt others a fair bit!

Director of Happiness and her pineapple

Director of Happiness and her pineapple

There are times when I moonlight as an analyst and jump into the data to answer a client question quickly. In those times, I like the focus and the numbers, but when I surface, I’m glad I work on a team who keep me honest, and whom I can help by keeping things straight.

And of course, I love my title, Director of Happiness :).

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5 Responses to "Behind the Scenes – Project Manager Career Sketch"

  • Susan Weinschenk
    February 14, 2009 - 2:12 am Reply


    that’s a great story. Is your title really Director of Happiness? Can I get a job with that title?!

  • projectmanagement04
    August 13, 2009 - 8:20 am Reply

    Project management certification and accreditation is determined by the passing of two exams. The Foundation exam is a multiple-choice test that lasts for up to one hour. The Practitioner test is a bit more complex, mixing in objective testing with multiple-choice questions, and clocking in at approximately three hours.

  • Adams Parker
    November 21, 2010 - 4:13 pm Reply

    I have been trying and using PM tools for a long time now…and have seen people try all sorts of things while they are building new open source PM tools…But I found one recent tool that seems to applied real thought and research…their innovative concept has a web-based tool and a desktop tool which integrate very well…and the best part is that it differentiates between work packages and tasks…so PMs and other stakeholders can create workpackages and a stable time schedule in the desktop version (and this WBS can be loaded to the web based tool) and the tasks created in the web based tool by the team leader. Their website is http://2-plan.com and you know what…it’s free.

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