After being a teacher for twenty-three years, over half of that teaching kindergarten, I decided it was time for a career change. My own kids were grown and almost flown so what better time for a change? An amazing opportunity was presented to me; did I want to become a project manager at ODEA? I could lie and say I was over the moon and immediately accepted but let’s be honest, I had some reservations. I had been spending most of my days with five-year-olds. What would it be like to be around adults all day? Spoiler alert: I have found, to my utter surprise, that being a project manager isn’t much different than being a teacher.
Many people, including myself, refer to teaching kindergarten as being a lot like herding cats. I say this with adoration for our team and our clients but the same can be said for being a project manager. I no longer have a classroom of twenty students to keep on a schedule. Now I have four or five or six clients to keep organized along with our own team members – all at one time. Making sure everyone knows what his/her deadline is and getting those deadlines met can be a huge feat that includes numerous emails, phone calls and Slack messages. And don’t even get me started about getting our team to record their time in our tracking and billing system. I am seriously considering investing in a “Gold Star” chart for those who have their time in on Fridays! If it worked for kindergartners, surely it can work for my teammates!
On top of keeping clients updated and on track, I also find myself teaching them about what we do and how we need their help to do it. I may not be teaching students how to read these days but I am teaching our clients about SEO and the different parts of their Google Analytics dashboard. As a teacher, I was committed to being a life-long learner. That hasn’t changed since I have become a project manager. The world of marketing is ever-changing. In order to keep our clients up-to-date about marketing best practices, I need to keep learning myself.
Proofing and Editing
I haven’t only taught young children, I also spent a few years teaching junior high Language Arts. Besides dealing with students who were taller than me, I also spent tons of hours grading essays and research reports. As a project manager, I still do that when I proofread content that our team creates. (I also still deal with clients who are younger and taller than I am.) At ODEA, nothing is sent to a client until someone puts “second eyes” on it. So, I’m not only proofing and editing content like enewsletters, social media posts, blogs, websites and ads for my own clients, I’m also doing that for our other clients.
I don’t know that changing careers when you are over fifty years old is for everyone. But for me, it was the right choice and I would do it all over again. One thing I know for sure, is that my time as a teacher was a great segue into being a project manager. And managing adults isn’t too different from working with children – I’ll let you know if my “Gold Star” chart proves that even more!