Amy Swidergal | Chicago IS Project Manager Attended Class: June 2020 Passed Exam: August 2020 What prompted you to pursue certification? I have been in the workforce for 25 years, including five years as an accountant and then almost 20 years doing systems implementations for various consulting companies. I came up the project management ranks very organically. For the longest time, whether through full-time employment or independent consulting, I have gotten jobs through my network of colleagues and others who have gotten to know my work. Having a PMP wasn’t that important to me initially. It didn’t keep me from getting jobs, but like an accountant who doesn’t have a CPA designation—you tend to have more credibility as a Project Manager when you have the PMP letters behind your name. At my company, I began as a contractor on a SAP project and then they offered me a full-time position as a project manager. It’s a great company: very family friendly, flexible work schedule, all the things that I said I would want from a full-time job. Suddenly, at that point, getting the PMP became something that I wanted. I have a CPA also, and I knew from the experience of getting that certification that I needed to take a prep course. What was the Boot Camp like? When they said boot camp, it was a boot camp. I was exhausted. I felt completely overwhelmed. After I gave feedback, EdWell dialed back the freight-train intensity a bit and gave us more breaks but without reducing the rigor. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EdWell boot camp was entirely online. I am a people person, and I wasn’t exactly thrilled with that format, but this is the time we’re living in. What kinds of doubts or fears did you need to overcome? Going into the PMP exam, I had some trepidation. As it turns out, though, the exam was easier than I expected because of the extensive preparation that EdWell put me through. I knew, going through the course, that I was definitely getting my money’s worth. After I passed the exam, I had an even better appreciation for the course’s value. I was pleasantly surprised by how well I was prepared—how to attack the questions, and tips like reading the end of the question first and knowing how not to get sidetracked by material that is mostly fluff. EdWell knows what they are doing and, as a result, so did I. What has it meant for your career? I am the first full-time project manager at my company. We are owned by a very large company, but our company is pretty small. With my PMP designation, I am helping not only myself personally, but I am also helping my company establish credibility and rapport with our business partners. The product development group at my company has been trying to get approval to hire their own project managers, and I am on loan to the PD group for one of their projects. The goal is to do such a great job that I have proved to senior leadership that there is a need to have dedicated project managers for that group. Also, five or 10 years down the line, I envision working independently again and the PMP will help expand my opportunities. Before, I would land within my network, but I was limited in those opportunities where a company didn’t know me. As I move forward at some point, that instant credibility will put me at the top of the heap because I have those three letters after my name. What advice would you have for others considering a job or career shift? Do the work first and then decide if it’s something that you really want to do. See if you like it, then consider pursuing the PMP.