Update: After a month of passing the exam, Theveline got a job doubling her salary, with a whopping $60K jump in salary.
Such instances are not the norm, but it is definitely possible to attract such opportunities with PMP under your belt. The salary surveys by PMI have time and again indicated a consistent increase of 16-25% on average for PMP-certified project managers.
“I applied for PMP scholarship of $1,500 and was awarded!
This ended up paying for my investment into my PMP cert and PMI membership, twice over.”
Well, that’s a neat way to deal with the financial aspects of PMP certification.
In this week’s PMP Lessons Learned interview, Theveline shares not just how to manage the financial part but more importantly, how to go about dealing with most of the issues you are likely to face on your way to PMP goal.
Theveline J. Felix is Project and Program Manager with over 6 years of experience driving unique projects within diversity, equity, & inclusion, technology, and marketing.
She is from New York City. In her free time Theveline enjoys traveling the world and listening to podcasts on pop culture, crime, and psychology, while cuddling with her kitten Harlem.
She scored Above Target across all domains, so I had to pick her brains to find out how exactly she did it.
Theveline was kind enough to share her journey, strategies, and the insights she had along the way.
It is quite specific, so you can simply pick the areas that interest you and include in the mix for your exam preparation.
Let us get started!
What made you take up PMP?
I decided to take the PMP because I knew it would grow in my career and allow me to build generational wealth and change the financial well-being of my family for the better, which is extremely important to me as a first-generation immigrant.
A close friend of mine had taken the PMP a year earlier and shared her first-hand experience with me from application to securing her first role.
With her guidance, I began to understand the landscape and market for PMPs. And, how the roles within my career journey were project management-related without the title of Project Manager.
This helped me confirm that this indeed was the direction I wanted to go for the next step of my career.
What was the core benefit did you expect from PMP certification?
I expected to enhance my skill set as an individual contributor, and better understanding of the technical aspects of project management. Also, an increase in job prospects and the salary associated with them.
Now that I’m certified, I see all the expected benefits coming into fruition.
- How Karen got PMP scholarship (and a short list of scholarships)
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According to you, what is that one factor that helps every PMP aspirant pass the exam?
I’d recommend three, actually.
I have found that if you get these right, you will find it easier to get through the exam.
1. Figure out your reason for taking up PMP exam.
Let’s face it, the path to PMP goal isn’t easy or convenient.
It’s a longer path compared to other certificate exams.
And you will face different types of challenges.
Being clear about why you want to do PMP would help you face these challenges head on.
A PMP aspirant should have an encouraging enough reason to strive for the PMP.
That reason can be building financial well-being, getting a promotion, making a career change, supporting your family, etc. but it needs to be strong enough that when the journey gets hard, you want to push through anyway because that reasoning means so much to you.
2. Make time for your study.
Even if you’re an amazing test taker, the PMP exam is not one of those tests you can just wing it on. That’ll be a waste of your time and money to do so.
In our busy lives, it can be hard to make time to study.
However, being transparent with everyone in your life, including your family and leaders at work, that you have a goal you want to reach and are devoting time to reaching that goal can help you assert boundaries that will give you the time you need to study.
3. Use other people’s first-hand experience to guide your own.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Neither, you’re in this alone.
There are so many people who have been on this journey, are on the journey, or want to take the PMP journey.
Work smarter, not harder, by using people’s experience, support, and accountability to help you reach your PMP goal.
Connect with these people by reading their first-hand accounts on Twitter and Reddit, or by putting out the ask to your network.
Understanding how successful PMPs have prepared for the exam would be useful. Click here to see over 300 interviews of PMPs, many of which are toppers.
Which study resources did you use for your exam preparation?
I took Andrew’s Udemy Course, here. His PMP/Agile Mindset will help you pass the exam without even memorizing the entire 49 processes and ITTOs. I went through anything I needed as additional support on understanding once and really honed in on the exam outline content, agile mindset, and PMP mindset modules.
Taking the practice exam at the end repeatedly until I received 80% helped too.
Ricardo Vargas’s video here does a great job of describing the ITTO’s, framework of the PMBOK and how all the functions are integrated into one another.
PMP PocketPrep app is recommended over the more expensive exam simulator options. I signed up for the $20 monthly plan and completed over 450 questions through daily questions, quizzes, and tests for a month. There are more than 1200 questions, and it covers agile, traditional, hybrid, etc.
I would answer questions on the go, before I slept, and randomly throughout the day. The fact that it’s an app is very convenient. These questions are harder than the exam, so once you get to the exam, it’s a breeze.
What was your approach and study plan?
I studied daily for a minimum of 30 minutes. Studying daily is a good way to make it a habit.
I would take mock tests on the PMP PocketPrep app. Since it’s on your phone, it’s convenient to go to it during your lunch break, morning scroll, or before bed.
As you go through the questions, the reasoning for the answers are displayed, including the chapters in the PMBOK needed to review to better understand the reason.
I spent every Tuesday evening on Andrew Ramdyal’s YouTube reviewing quiz questions and the PMP mindset with many aspiring PMPs.
In short, PMI expects you to be in the shoes of a project manager while answering the questions. I truly attribute these for passing the exam with above target across all domains.
You mentioned getting PMP scholarship?
An interesting aspect of my PMP journey was trying to get my current workplace to pay for my certification.
I put together two proposals for the certification, detailing its ability to upskill me and allow me to contribute in a greater way to my role and the goals of my team and organization.
Both my proposals got denied. So I began searching for a PMP scholarship that could support the cost of my PMP journey.
I applied to DreamCorps Tech Scholarship for $1,500 and was awarded the scholarship!
This ended up paying for my investment into my PMP cert and PMI membership, twice over.
I think looking for PMP scholarship is a smart thing to do. Did you face any challenges along the way?
Of course, I did.
1. A blocker I faced along the way was, and still am overcoming, is imposter syndrome.
Project Management is different in every field. Even with my 6 years of project management experience, your experience may not align with the technical format of the PMI PMP content.
Learning a new way of working can be scary, which is why I believe practicing being in PMI’s PM-Mindset is so important. It taught me to confidently move as a PMP and think as a PMP the PMI way.
The best way to overcome imposter syndrome is by being over-prepared.
2. Another blocker was that, you won’t always want to study. ?
There are always hundreds of excuses not to study, from “I don’t feel like it” to “I need to help someone else in my life with something“. As a reformed people pleaser, it was hard for me to put up boundaries with other people to focus on my end goal.
Having an accountability partner on the journey with me helped with this tremendously.
I found my accountability partner by putting an ask out to my network for aspiring PMPs.
Then I met with my accountability partner once a week, and we shared our studying achievements from the previous week and set new study goals with each other.
We encouraged each other when we felt overwhelmed and shared our tips and resources for success with each other. This support helped because we both passed the exam!
Ad: Master all concepts for easy PMP management exam prep, study for PMP exam in an easy-to-understand and smart way.
How did you use the week before your exam?
I spent the week heads down focused on quizzes, flashcards, and PMI’s PMP Mindset.
Also, I increased my study time from 0.5-2 hours per day to up to 4 hours daily.
I took a break from any extracurricular activities I supported to assure my mindset was focused on myself and the exam.
That’s awesome! How was your exam experience?
I took my exam at home in a proctored setting.
On the day of the exam, I woke up early and made a cup of coffee.
I listened to music to hype myself up and affirmed myself with motivational words.
During the exam, I took both the offered breaks. Ate snacks, used the restroom. Just stepping away from the computer screen and stretching helps.
The exam is pretty long, so a stretch and a breather are important.
At one point, I got stuck on a question and attempted to read the question out loud to help guide me. DON’T DO THAT. You’ll get in trouble by the proctor for reading out loud.
Once I got to the end of the exam, I felt a sense of relief, but the true relief came when I realized I had passed! With Above Target in all domains. ?
Good luck to everyone preparing for their PMP exam.
I hope you have found at least some aspects of my PMP journey helpful. Consider looking around for PMP scholarship, there are many organizations with dedicated budget and look to help people with their career growth objectives.