Foray into the World of Project Management: The Course

By: Shekerah Primus

An important component of the iJOBS phase two program is to complete a course of your choice, which relates to your chosen career track. As an aspiring project manager, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I chose the Project Management course. This course is offered by the Rutgers Business School as part of their Master of Business Administration degree program. I would like to use this post to give an overview of the course as well as my first impressions.

The course is designed to help students develop the skills necessary to be successful project managers. The course provides the key concepts for initiating, planning, executing and effectively monitoring a project so that it is completed on time and on budget—the hallmarks of a successful project. It also prepares students for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. The PMP certificate is awarded by the Project Management Institute, a globally recognized nonprofit organization. Project managers with a PMP certification earn an average salary 20% higher than those without!
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In Fall 2018 on the Newark campus, Introduction to Project Management is being taught by Dr. Irene Gerlovin. The class meets one evening per week for three hours. Grading for the course is conventional; marks are determined between four exams (40%), individual presentations (15%), a group project (35%), and attendance (10%). The material in the two required text books (Project Management Body of Knowledge and Project Management in Practice) is quite dense. Professor Gerlovin tries to mitigate this situation by using a less traditional teaching style. Instead of giving 3-hr lectures, she incorporates YouTube videos and other multimedia to explain the concepts using real-world examples.

Have you heard about “Google Glass”? If you haven’t, it’s an example of how a good idea can be affected by a myriad of project problems.

Have you ever wondered how large companies like Apple and Amazon stay ahead, consistently churning out updated models of our favorite gadgets? This requires highly skilled project management and global collaborations.

One key feature of the course is the high degree of student participation. This takes the form of individual presentations as well as group presentations. This is another way by which Professor Gerlovin has designed the class to be more interactive. Instead of simply teaching the material from the text, she has divided it into smaller topics of which each student presents two. There are between 4 to 7 individual presentations scheduled per class. This truly results in a more collaborative learning experience as individuals present their topics from a different point of view and based upon their own experiences (or lack thereof) in the business world. Moreover, these student-taught sections help to highlight important topics, and to reveal weaknesses in students’ understanding of the material that Professor Gerlovin can target for further discussion.

A major component of the course is the group project. The project runs throughout the course, from the first day when students select group members to the final day when groups present their project management plans. Groups of 3 to 5 students select their own projects, from planning a company picnic, to organizing a charity run, or even launching a new business, and apply the concepts learned throughout the course to properly manage their project. A single part of the project management plan is due every week, submitted as a well-prepared document as well as a short group presentation. These weekly deliverables keep our projects on track, but the real question is, if tasked to execute these projects, will we be on budget?

All in all, the Introduction to Project Management course offered at Rutgers, Newark provides a hands-on learning experience to becoming a project management professional. I look forward to experiencing the remainder of this course.

This article was edited by: Fatu Badiane Markey, Jennifer Casiano-Matos, Aminat Saliu-Musah and Paulina Krzyszczyk

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