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#7 - Finding The Next Generation

The online journal bringing to life the real experiences of a Project Professional.

The students and apprentices of today are the project professionals of the future.

As managers we are very aware that planning for the future is essential for any business. That is why it is so important to engage with the next generation, provide support where you can and importantly find the next generation of project professionals.

A few days ago I was involved in a assessment centre for next year's intake of students onto the company's project management graduate scheme. Each time I do this I find the experience not only exhilarating but also very enjoyable.


Its not often that you get the opportunity to hold conversation with such a diverse and fresh thinking group of individuals.


The applicants come from all walks of life and unlike some professions, for example to join a scheme as a mechanical engineer you need to have studied mechanical engineering, for project management the applicants have studied a wide variety of subjects from sciences to history to international relations. I see this as a real strength as it increases the diversity of candidates and the profession.

An economist is likely to think differently to a historian and we can bring that diversity into the project team.

As an assessor it is quite difficult to differentiate between applicants at this stage of their career as they will, by enlarge, have very similar level of academic achievement and work or life experience. Holding a university degree tells us that the applicant has a particular level of academic ability therefore ticks one box but at this stage, when they are often entering industry for the first time, I focus very much on how they respond to questions, I look for the way they think, how they interact with others and importantly how they cope in what can be a stressful and challenging situation. Qualification can only tell you so much, it is vitally important that an individuals personality is a match for the company, the team and the profession.


But this is not a one way street it is just as important that the candidate assesses whether the company and profession is the right fit for them.


After all a successful assessment will take them on the first step in what could be 45 year career. It is quite acceptable for an applicant to discover that the company, or even the profession, is not right for them. In fact such a decision must be respected.

At the end of the day employment is a complex two way relationship between employer and employee. One which endures over a huge proportion of a person's life. It becomes another family.

Problem is no company can accept all candidates therefore we must find a way to differentiate thus must decline some applicants. I say to those who find themselves in this situation do not let this discourage you, there is a role out there for each of us.

I have not been successful in every interview I have ever been assessed in.

Good luck to all of you school, college and university leavers looking for your first opportunity.

You will find your path!

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