A new update to the project management curriculum has positioned Bellevue College Continuing Education (BC CE) to equip students with project management skills for today’s workplace. BC CE’s popular Project Management Certificate Program that prepares students for the Project Management Institute (PMI) certification exam has recently been revised to incorporated updates in the newest edition of global standards for project managers, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), 5th Edition. The redesign has also organized new electives in a more logical way and simplified the layout of the certificate program for greater ease of completion.
The redesign took a great deal of planning by instructional designers, subject matter experts, and working project managers who use the PMBOK 5th Edition to guarantee that the certificate prepares students to manage projects in today’s workplace. BC CE also convened an interdisciplinary board to ensure that the changes not only increased rigor but would also lead students to full-time employment. “There was an advisory board of industry professionals and hiring managers who came together and talked about what course content should look like,” explains Shara Tscheulin, a program manager for professional programs. “And we met with a small focus group of students and asked them what would they like to see changed in the certificate,” she added, noting that student opinions were crucial in the decision to reclassify electives.
In addition to reorganizing current topics, the PMBOK update introduced new topics. A new knowledge area, “Project Stakeholder Management,” was added to bring the number of knowledge areas to ten, and four new planning processes were added. The updates that BC CE incorporated will inculcate students with the most current project management practices. PMI updates its global standards at least every five years, and the update isn’t expected to noticeably change the certification test. All in all, the PMBOK 5th Edition promises to keep project managers current without drastically impacting students in the short term.
One of the most significant aspects of the Project Management Certificate for career hopefuls is the Capstone project, which pairs students with a local nonprofit. This partnership allows students to get real, on-the-job experience in project management and provide the nonprofit a dynamic project plan at no cost to them. As Tscheulin explains, “The students have to produce an actual physical piece. And the client from the nonprofit comes and sits in on the last class and the students actually present it to them. The students get experience and take away some actual work that’s been done for this nonprofit organization.”
Nonprofits that have partnered with the Project Management Program at BC CE include the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, the YWCA Family Village in Issaquah, and the Mercer Island Farmer’s Market. As a BC CE project manager mentioned, “We’re always looking for more nonprofits to work with.” And having a professional project management plan to show potential employers gives Bellevue College Project Management Certificate Program students an advantage in their job search.
The reaction from the students learning project management skills at BC CE is positive. One student who had just finished her Principles of Project Management course had only positive things to say about it. “I felt like everybody had a chance to speak, and the instructor had good rapport with us,” she noted, commenting that her teacher “would stay afterwards and during breaks to answer questions. She would also ask students what projects they were working on currently in their real life jobs. She was very interested in hearing about the projects and would give advice and answer questions.” She added that with the update, BC CE’s project management instructors will be very capable of giving students the guidance they need to learn today and succeed at work tomorrow.
Nationally and locally, project management is a lucrative career, and demand for project managers has been steadily increasing in the last few years. According to the job-recruitment analytics service WANTED Analytics, there were just over 40,000 jobs posted online that included project manager in their title in December of 2012. This represents an 8% year-over-year increase in volume. The top 55% of these jobs are in IT and computer programing, but many others are in business management, construction, engineering, and financial services. A steadily improving economy and healthy growth in the local tech sector make a Bellevue College Project Management Certificate a smart path to a fulfilling career.
Considering getting into project management? Come to a Project Management Certificate Program info session, and find out more.