Yes, it’s true. If you’re looking to break into product management, then learning about the role of an APM is a great place to start.
You must have many questions about who APMs are, their roles and responsibilities, what educational qualifications and skills you need, the role of internships, how you can start preparing if you are currently in college, etc.
That’s what we’ll discuss. In today’s post, we will cover everything related to APMs.
Who is an APM?
APM is an acronym for Associate Product Manager.
APMs are responsible for defining and managing the products their company offers, making them integral to the success of any business. Keep reading if you’re interested in learning more about this exciting career opportunity!
Now, addressing the fundamental question like always, What do APMs do?
Roles and responsibilities of an APM
In simple terms, an APM does everything that a product manager does at a beginner level. So, that person may have lower accountability and handle smaller parts of the problem than a regular PM.
Collecting product market data through research, coordinating with stakeholders, developing new features, crunching numbers, making PRDs, and determining what projects to focus on and how to take them forward with your team are all areas where an APM would be involved.
Some of the core roles and responsibilities that an APM has are:
- Conducting market research
- Analyzing the data that you’ve crunched
- Try and set goals for your team and measure the success
- Develop product strategy with the product managers who are in your team
So those are the four core responsibilities that an APM has.
Now, let’s talk about the educational qualifications of an APM.
Educational Qualifications for APM
Most APMs might start with a bachelor’s degree in BTech. Students from non-tech backgrounds can also obviously apply to be an APM. You don’t necessarily also need to be an MBA.
As this is an entry-level position, the recruiters are not looking for work experience in other companies. But candidates who have internships in similar domains are definitely preferred because they might stand out.
Skills needed to become APM?
We’ve discussed the skills required in early-level positions in a separate post. You can check it out here:
But, to summarize, when you are at the beginning of your product management career, you would be required to focus a little bit more on technical skills. Soft skills are also essential.
But what you need to do initially is to prioritize the core skills, which is to:
- understand the needs of a user and
- communicate them clearly through a PRD
Initially, you will work more on tasks like crunching data, putting them together in PRDs, developing product features, and executing them.
Internships to gain experience
Internships help a lot when it comes to product management. So if you’re sure that you want to get into product management, start looking for internships and gain good work experience through them. Also, in Product Management, many students will convert their internships to get a PPO, which is an excellent start to a PM career.
Make the best out of College
Honestly, college time is the best time to be productive but still experimenting.
If you don’t know anything about product management, maybe you should go for internships and get some experience. If you’re sure you want to become a PM, then focus on upskilling your skills.
Start by solving case studies, develop your analytical thinking, and do some courses and certifications. You can check out the Seekho app to learn more about product management and other aspects of this field.
The path from APM to Senior PM roles
When you are in the initial stage of your career, you’re still unaware of many things.
To become a senior PM, you must work on three additional things: strategy, autonomy, and specific nuances.
Let’s talk about each of them in more detail.
Strategy means painting the picture of an inspiring future and figuring out the best path and possible pathways to reach that goal. It also means advocating for the resources you need from engineers, the business team, and the marketing team. You need to ensure that all stakeholders are on board with your ideas so that you can ship out a product that makes your stakeholders proud. Your customers are also satisfied with what you have built. You work with a strategy that aligns with everyone on the team.
Autonomy generally means acting with a sense of ownership. As a PM, you’re often faced with this question, ‘how do you define the direction when nobody reports to you?’ Since you’re already a stakeholder manager, you need to own the trust of various stakeholders and align them with your product vision. You can gain your team’s confidence through multiple things like proactive communication and build a successful track record for yourself through these successful launches.
As you become senior, you will encounter situations where the correct answer will always be: it depends! In these scenarios, you will not find the right answer, but you need to consider many variables to answer the question and ensure that you can give a structured solution. As a senior PM, it should not take more than minutes to come up with a solution, at least a quick one.
So let us summarize what we have discussed today. An APM performs all the roles and responsibilities of a product manager but with limited accountability. Talking to customers, writing PRDs, and crunching data are some of the core roles of an APM. To become a senior-level product manager, you need to work on strategy, autonomy, and understanding product-specific nuances.
That was it for today. Thank you so much for reading.
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