Six months as a project manager

Today was the first day off my 6-month “trial contract” at WSP. I think it is a common way to go, especially for a newly graduated person. Not sure how it works in the rest of the world, but here in Sweden you get hired during a trial time of 6 months. Not that it is any different from working fulltime normally (I think it even says on my contract that it starts with 6 months trial and then goes on as a normal employment without any new contract needed – maybe I should double check?), but it still feels really good after my first day of knowing that I now am one of everyone else. I am another grown-up with a really fun fulltime job.

I have been very bad at updating this blog about how everything is going, but perhaps that is not super interesting anyway. But an update every now and then could be good. At least fun for myself in the future when I can look back on all of this, that I obviously save on an external harddrive.

The past six months have been really great. It has been challenging on many levels but I am getting used to it all. The whole routine of getting up the same early time every day, getting home the same early time (compared to university and Liseberg), trying to work out and compensate for sitting in front of a computer all day, trying to eat healthy, trying to write on my book and at the same time trying to do all of this and balance with enough sleep every night. It is harder than it sounds to find that balance and I am still not sure that I have. One really good thing about being a project manager is that it will always be challenging, no matter how long I have worked. The challenges will be different, and probably not as dependent on what I do outside of work (like getting enough sleep). Projects are never the same and that is why I really enjoy going to work every day. I feel that I do some good at WSP. I feel that I am appreciated, both from coworkers and bosses. I feel that I have found something that I am somewhat good at!

After only 4 months I took over a project regarding the change of control systems at Volvo and soon thereafter I was given a completely new project that I was part of starting up regarding a revision of all sprinkler systems at Volvo. That’s crazy. Think about it. I became the main project manager after only four months. How crazy is that?! What’s even more crazy is that it was only scary for about a couple of weeks after taking over when nothing was organized very well and I had to do a lot just to make sure that all the right documentation was in the right place and so on. Even if I don’t (well, maybe that is actually didn’t now) know a single thing about systems that control ventilation and such, I still did good. Because a project manager is not a specialist, a project manager is a generalist who is not supposed to be there and help with details, but rather be the spider in the web, the organizer to make sure that the project is going in the right direction. But of course, I learn new things every day that is basically just a big plus for my work.

Then there are also the days where I start thinking about what I am actually doing. How did I get here? I am working a 9-5 job (with flex hours of course), in an open office landscape. I use excel in almost everything I do and without my Outlook calendar I would be like a lost child. How did I end up there? Did I really get a masters degree? Really? Some days I feel like I have faked my way to where I am because I can honestly say that I don’t remember much from my bachelor time at Chalmers (2010-2012, so it has been a while). The knowledge I gathered from my master is more easily accessed. And maybe that is why I constantly hear that I am doing a good job (although I am not sure what is good and bad job)? Because project management is more than just education? I think perhaps I was born with a list and an excel spreadsheet in each hand. The structure and order have always come naturally. To not have things (the right things obviously, not everything) under control has never been an issue for me. And when I think about it that way, I reach the conclusion that I might feel lost but I truly feel that I have found my place and calling. Project management is what I want to do!

Now I am just rambling. Maybe I should have put these word counts into my book instead? Eh, to summarize, I can’t really believe that it already has been 6 months since I started working. It has gone so fast and I can’t wait to see what I will have accomplished in the future. I want to be good at what I do, I want to be a rolemodel for new employees as well as more senior ones. I want to see what kind of cool and big projects I could potentially get in the future. I am so eager to see where all of this is going and I think I have to remind myself that the road there will probably be as interesting as the goal. But now, for the first time, I have a goal, and it feels good. Real good!

I am so glad that it is not “just a job” that I have. I really like what I am doing and I am so greatful that I found this right on my first try.

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