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Starting Over as a Product Manager: Read Iryna’s Story

Iryna moved to the UK from Ukraine four years ago. She was the CEO of her own fashion brand founded in Ukraine, but after the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating effects of the war in her home country, she decided she needed to look at new career options. “I just realised that I couldn’t keep going, running my own business, and I needed to make some changes in my life,” she shares. 

After doing some research, she decided that she wanted to find a job that was in demand and would pay her well. Product management emerged as a good option for her, and that’s when she found the King’s Product Management Career Accelerator

The programme was very practical

“What I liked the most is after the lessons, you have an opportunity to finish a practical task. At every stage, you have the ability to practise on a real example. So, it was very practical. We also had the option to use multiple tools to complete the challenges – you don’t have to stick to just one. We had the opportunity to choose how we wanted to approach tasks, and this was a nice way to learn more.”

You are in control of your learning experience

“It took some time to adjust my schedule. I found it particularly important to book my time because it was easy to be distracted by other things in my head. I dedicated one day on a weekend and at least one and a half hours in the evenings. How much time you give depends on your current experience – do you need to dig into small details? I wanted to have additional knowledge, so I was watching videos, Googling, and reading the additional materials. Booking your time and dedicating particular hours in your diary so you can deep dive is very important.”

You get to understand the role better by engaging with product managers in live sessions

“When you’re talking with the person who has been doing product management for years, and hearing all these real stories – for example, how they make a decision, or how they approach the situation without knowing a lot, or just having some concerns about situations, it was very nice to hear. It showed me how much I need to know and learn over time.”

I really felt like I could lean on my Success Manager like a friend

“I found working with a Success Manager very valuable. Every session, I felt like I was sharing things with a friend. Imagine – you have this person that you can talk to each week about all your ups and downs. It was nice to have the opportunity to tell someone how you feel. Sometimes, they could help with just a simple answer – something you hadn’t thought of. It was good to learn from his experience and interesting to get his opinion on things.”

A man smiling in a blue business suit and tie | FourthRev

Hussein, a learner on the LSE Data Analytics Career Accelerator, also feels like he benefited enormously from the support of his Success Manager. “Having someone you dock in with regularly – outside of the general kind of Q&A you have about the course material, or separately about longer-term career aspirations, was really helpful.” Read about how he shifted his career after 10 years of working in the same industry here.

My Career Coach helped boost my confidence

“I remember my first session was a goal-setting session. I said three months after the course, I wanted to apply for an intern product manager position. My coach asked me all these questions about myself and my experience, and at the end, I realised I didn’t want to be an intern. I felt more confident after she highlighted my experience and transferable skills. Just this one hour was so important for me because she boosted my confidence so much.”

“It’s great because the Career Coaches don’t have a particular plan – like session one, we talk about this; session two, we talk about that. They study your needs and explore your background. After that, they offer you the best plan for you.”

I found a product manager job in the last two weeks of the programme

“I had a few conversations with my Success Manager and Career Coach because I was struggling with my job search. People around me were sharing their experiences of applying for 200 jobs without getting answers, and I thought I had to go through that same journey.”

“They encouraged me not to compare myself to other people. You never know how your own journey will look.”

“My Career Coach helped a lot with my CV. When it was done, I started applying for jobs and my opportunity came unexpectedly. I’d told everyone I met, like my husband’s friends and people at my sports club, that I wanted to be a product manager, I’m doing this course, and I want to make a career change. Someone introduced me to someone and I went through the interview process, and now I have the job that I wanted.”

What I learnt during the Career Accelerator is helping me in my new role

“I’m coming back to the course a lot. It’s a small startup where I’m working, and because I don’t have an experienced product manager in the team, everything is on me. I’m using all the tools we studied, and I’m not scared of things like user research or usability testing, even though I’ve never done it in a job, because we covered it in the course. I know where to find the information. Also, I have a great community with the other learners, and I can ask them questions.”

Completing a programme from King’s College London was a ‘big tick’ for my employer

“When I was interviewing for my role, they were impressed that I had completed two courses on this Career Accelerator at that point. It was important for them that I had this experience because of the challenges I would be working on.”

“For them, having a certificate from King’s was like having a big tick on my CV and played a big role in them making the decision to hire me.”

If you’re interested in exploring how the King’s Product Management Career Accelerator can help you unlock your potential, take a look at the programme page.

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