Becoming a Product Manager Without a Technical Background: Alessandro Mannino
Alessandro finished Product School NY back in November and just started his new job as an Associate Product Manager at BeenVerified. He didn’t come from the technical background, as he studied Business and Entrepreneurship in university and worked in Sales and Marketing for 1.5 years before transitioning to product management. What was his secret sauce of transitioning into product management from business? Here are some tips from him.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Alessandro Mannino and live in New Jersey, work in New York City. I studied Business Administration at Coastal Carolina University. During school, I interned at an incubator and helped founders take their ideas to the MVP stage. I have also attended both Startup Weekend and Lean Startup Machine placing 1st and 3rd respectively. After the school, I worked at Offertop as a Lead Qualification Specialist, which is a role combining both sales and marketing. Then I quit my job and took part-time product management training course at Product School. Now I work at BeenVerified as an Associate Product Manager and I love my job.
Why did you want to become a Product Manager?
My dream has always been to build awesome products that people around me would use. Also, I never wanted to be a coder or a developer, so I thought to become a product manager was the best way to get involved with new innovation. Product management is not just about developing or designing, but also involves talking to users and different stakeholders to gain multiple perspectives.
How was your job search process? How long did it take?
I already started job search back in August before enrolling in Product School. In September, I attended New York Tech Startup Job Fair and met a recruiter who was looking for a product manager. Although at that time I didn’t have enough experience to get an interview for the position, I stayed in touch with that recruiter. Then I started part-time 8-week product management course at Product School in November and finished in January. I got in touch with the recruiter again, this time, with a portfolio, I developed while in Product School. After phone screening, I was invited to on-site interviews – one interview with CEO and COO of the company and the other one with Product Managers of BeenVerified. The whole process only took 2 weeks.
Why did you pick Product School?
When I talked to product managers, they recommended building work experience or getting a product management internship to break into the field. Then I met startup founders at a networking event and decided to help them out. It was important for me to find a part-time training course that would allow me to work on my side project while taking the class. It turned out to be a great strategy, as I was also able to apply lessons from the class into the real project I was working on.
Financially, Product School was the most affordable option in the market for me.
What is your advice for aspiring product managers?
First, if you want to get product manager job quick, then apply to startups. They are looking to hire people quickly than big companies that tend to take few months to finalize their decisions.
By the way, for those who don’t have the technical background, don’t give up. I’m the living example of a product manager without technical background 🙂 Don’t take No for an answer (You need computer science degree, you need experience)- always be consistent, familiarize with everything or take product management training course like Product School. Have your projects and portfolio ready to show to the recruiters and hiring managers. Practice your public speaking skills, as I had to do 30-minute presentation for my first onsite interview.
For resources, I found those particularly helpful :
Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle McDowell
Go to meetups and networking events in the city to create connections. Stay informed with jobs on AngelList, CrunchBase and LinkedIn.
* The article was adapted from Product School’s monthly webinar “How to Transition to Product Management” on March 29th. Access the full webinar here.
* Interested in taking a class at Product School? Contact admissions today at firstname.lastname@example.org!