Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Mae's Project Management placement at NetApp

Mae Wang is studying BSc Management with International Business (Year in Business) at Royal Holloway and is currently doing at 12 month placement as a Project Manager at NetApp. In this guest blog Mae talks about the Project Management role and her tips for YIB students.

Project Management Internship at NetApp, Inc.

Just coming into my third month at NetApp as a Project Manager Intern, first, let me say that it is not what I had initially thought of. – In a good way. 

When I first started looking for placements, like many others, I was looking for HR/Marketing positions. When this role was advertised by NetApp, only 30 applicants applied. Compared to the 200+ applications for their Marketing roles. I debated whether to apply for this role as the title ‘Associate Project Manager' sounded like a big responsibility and I also didn't know that much about project management itself. However, after the various interviews, it was clear that the hiring managers were more interested in my transferable skills and willingness to learn new things than ‘what I knew about project management' (although it would help, massively).  

For those who have not heard of NetApp before, NetApp is an American multinational storage and data management company. It has ranked in the Fortune 500 since 2012 and is listed on NASDAQ with a revenue of $5.54 billion (2016). I am based in the Uxbridge office and the atmosphere is quite relaxed, everyone is very friendly – you could literally walk up to anyone and start a conversation.

I am the only intern in the Professional Services department and my team consists of 10 very experienced Project Managers. Due to my predecessor working remotely, my handover period was relatively short and the first few weeks felt like I was thrown into the deep end. But it helped me to learn at a quick pace, to be pro-active and I felt empowered to discover processes through trial and error. It also allowed me to build a network with different people in the office. (I also bugged other PMs 24/7, following them around and asking a thousand questions.)

My line manager is extremely supportive and encouraging. Instead of making me do coffee rounds he has put me on multimillion-dollar projects. The main project I’m working on is for a High Street Bank, assisting the Global Programme Manager with the delivery the project in four countries (US, Mexico, UK and Hong Kong). I am responsible for managing and tracking project milestones, monitoring actual expenditure against budgeted, completing project key performance indicators (RADIO Log) to list a few.  Did I mention I use Excel daily? – not something I anticipated but I have grown to appreciate their beauty!

Overall, the role of a Project Manager is intense and requires a high level of time management and organisational skills but at the same time, you will also learn very quickly and gain a lot of key transferable skills with the opportunity to build a long list of credible contacts both internally and externally. NetApp has been fantastic in terms of developing their interns, they are currently funding my Prince2 qualification for professional Project Managers.

My tips for the current YIB students who are looking for placements are to be bold in your choices, apply for roles that are not heard of, even if you don’t have the knowledge or experience it could open new doors to you. 

P.S. Take additional training in Excel!!!! You will thank me later!

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