Exactly the situation Joshua was in.
He managed this beautifully and passed his PMP.
Joshua Curtis worked in the military for close to a decade and then, with the help of PMP, transitioned into the traditional project management space.
After PMP, he went on to get a slew of certifications needed for Construction management.
In this interview, Joshua shares the methodical, simple, yet highly effective approach he took to pass the PMP exam.
Even if there is one strategy or technique that resonates with you, you’ll have got multifold of the 5 minutes you’d spend to read through this ‘PMP lessons learned’ interview.
👇 In a hurry? Watch this short video 👇
What triggered your desire to take up this exam?
Originally, I wanted to go to school for construction management. But I had a hard time finding a program that I could do with my schedule.
Then, one day CTU had a commercial play about their Project Management study program, and at that moment I decided what I was going to do.
Seeing my degree is in Project Management, the natural progression in my opinion was to get my PMP.
Now that you are PMP certified, what changes would you foresee in the future?
The certification itself has not made a major impact. I wanted to pad my resume before I got out of the military to ensure some sort of financial security for my family.
Interestingly, even though I had 11 years of experience leading projects, plus a PMP cert, several of the major organization I applied for didn’t accept. They said that I was not yet qualified to be a project manager with their organization. And they offered me jobs as a construction superintendent or project engineer.
This probably was a blessing in disguise. I took a job with a start-up to not only be a project manager but also to continue developing myself to be the project manager that even major companies would want on their payroll.
The startup environment is conducive for faster growth, where you get to don multiple hats to get things done.
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Which study resources did you use to study for PMP?
The choice for me here was straightforward: books!
I went with:
- Rita Mulcahy’s book
- Andy Crowe’s book
- Oliver Lehmann’s sample questions
- ..and a load of mobile apps.
You can also refer to this plan if you are just getting started.
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How did you approach the exam preparation?
Chapter by chapter.
Focus on one thing at a time, and cut information overwhelm.
Simple as that.
Also, I realized that understanding diverse perspectives of people from different industries would help me understand the concepts better.
Thus, I joined the online study groups, where I could interact with other PMP students as well.
Can you please tell our readers about some of the issues you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them.
Study schedule and time management was a hard thing to manage.
Time management, I think, is something that I think the PMBOK should go into in more depth. I found the content covered in the syllabus inadequate.
However, studying for the test will teach you that on its own.
I had a full time job in the military, I have two kids, and my wife works nights. So I was constantly juggling how I was going to make things happen.
How did you prepare in the week prior to the exam?
Ah, the week before your exam is precious. You want to plan to iron out any rough edges, and fill any study gaps.
Ken and I met at the library and went over anything and everything that we had trouble with.
What was your exam experience like?
It was what I expected.
They check you before you test and anytime you take a break. You have nothing on you but an ID, and you test.
I opted for one break and took roughly 3 hours and 30 mins.
Any specific tips to study for PMP exam?
1. You will never feel ready. And it is okay.
The nature of PMP syllabus is such that there are no strict set of resources that give you the confidence of covering 100% of the syllabus.
Hence, no matter how much you study, you may feel you are not there. Like I said, this feeling is okay to have.
If you have the general understanding of all the concepts, and some of the more intricate parts of the knowledge needed, then the exam isn’t any more than that. An Exam.
2. Study regularly.
If you take a break, it may feel difficult to get back on track. Also, you may feel like you are not able to remember what you have studied before the break.
PMP exam preparation is not difficult, a bit tedious.
It is quite comprehensive.
Whenever you feel like the going is tough, simply remind yourself that you are going to be one of the few people that have complete understanding of what it takes to manage a project.
I wish you all the best,