Associate Product Manager programs are entry-level jobs for people looking to start their careers in product management. Companies struggle to hire people with experienced product management since there aren’t many entry-level jobs in the field. Associate product manager programs can help fill the gap between recent college graduates and experienced product managers.
What is an APM Program?
Associate Product Manager (APM) programs are common in Silicon Valley and are usually designed for recent college graduates. Since there isn’t an option to major in product management in college, APM programs fill the void for tech companies. Their goal is to turn promising talent into highly skilled product managers by providing mentorship and practical work experience.
The APM program is a structured cohort that usually lasts for 18-24 months. During this time, APMs will work with senior product managers on various teams and even launch new products. There’s also usually other learning opportunities and research trips, but this varies by company.
What prior experience do you need to apply to associate product manager programs?
Each company will have different standards for admittance, but APM programs are designed for recent college graduates. Companies usually don’t expect you to have prior experience, but they do look for demonstrated leadership and passion for technology and product management. Some companies may expect you to have a technical background to succeed in their APM programs.
Why try an APM Program?
Many college graduates don’t have direct product management experience nor took classes in the subject. But product management is a highly needed skill for companies.
By participating in an APM program, you can learn everything you need to know to develop and launch products and build a more competitive resume. You also receive invaluable mentorship from people that can help you grow in product management.
3 benefits of joining an associate product manager program
There are many benefits to joining an APM program. This isn’t an unpaid internship where your only job responsibility is to get everyone’s coffee order right. APM programs ultimately help you build a more competitive resume and gain practical experience.
Receive education and mentorship on product management
There’s no product management degree – an APM program is the next best thing to receiving a formal education on product management. Along the way, you can get mentored by some of the best product managers in the industry.
Mentorship is extremely valuable for people starting product management careers. The field is constantly changing, and you need a different skill set for various companies. Mentors can help you build the skills you need to succeed in product management.
APM programs also expect participants to need training, and companies happily provide it. They design APM programs to include more training, meetings with other product managers, and on-the-job learning. You’ll develop your expertise far quicker than if you had a regular management job.
Network with peers
Networking with peers and executives can help you grow your career. In other situations, you may be the only PM at a company, but this doesn’t happen in an APM program. Joining an APM program lets you meet people in the same position as you.
Learning about product management with a group of like-minded individuals will help you grow your expertise. Staying connected with your cohort can be a valuable source of information in the future.
Not to mention, if you choose an APM program with an extensive alumni group, you can continue to network with knowledgeable product managers from other cohorts.
Increase future job opportunities
People who complete APM programs are well-prepared for the workforce and are in high demand. Product management training is hard to come by in applicants, so you can expect to have ample job opportunities after completing an APM program. However, many people end up staying with the same company after completing their APM program.
How is the interview process to get into an APM Program?
APM programs are highly competitive, and some companies receive as many as 10,000 applications. So how can you ensure that your resume and interview stand out?
There are usually multiple rounds of interviews, so you want to be prepared to speak about your past experiences and product development questions. Sometimes interviewers will ask you to solve a problem to see how you approach it.
It’s not unusual for you to be asked to complete a task as part of the interview process. This could include a technical test or a different kind of exercise.
To prepare for the interview process, you should read books like “Cracking the PM Interview” and “Decode and Conquer”. This will help you answer product design and analytical questions you could be asked.
8 most popular & best APM Programs: 2021 List
While there are numerous APM programs available, not all of them are the same. Some programs have research trips, book clubs, or assigned mentors. If you’re considering an APM program, you should consider all the variables that could make an impact on your future in product management.
Here are some of the most popular and best APM programs (and honorable mentions), plus some of their differentiating factors.
The Salesforce APM program lasts for two years and is made for recent college graduates. The program is designed for you to rotate through three different teams to gain hands-on experience in various areas. In this program, you’ll gain mentorship with Salesforce senior executives and network with your APM peers.
Google APM program
The Google APM program was the first of its kind, and now it has the largest and most structured program. The program lets applicants work as full-time product managers while getting additional support and mentorship to succeed. In order to get accepted, your Google APM application will need to highlight your computer science background and demonstrated leadership skills.
Twitter APM program
The Twitter APM program is two-years long, and APMs will work on a different team each year. An APM can work on various projects like building new tools, improving user experience, or defining advertising formats. The program also includes monthly learning sessions, an assigned mentor, and an international research trip. This is a great opportunity if you’re interested in consumer behavior, media, and social platforms.
Yahoo associate product manager
Similar to Twitter, Yahoo offers a two-year APM program that lets APMs work on a different team each year. The Yahoo APM program focuses on the future of media and technology. Past participants have worked on products like ads, accessibility, and artificial intelligence. You’ll receive access to senior product leaders and planned activities to grow your skills.
Facebook rotational product management (RPM) program
The Facebook RPM program is an 18-month program where participants work with a different team every six months. Unlike other APM programs, Facebook doesn’t require a college degree or tech industry experience. Facebook looks for applicants who have a diversity of thoughts, skills, and experiences for their rotational product managers.
Uber APM program
The Uber APM program is designed for recent college graduates with a technical background like computer science. The program lasts for 18 months, and applicants will get to work with three teams, each for six months. Working with Uber will provide APMs the experience of working with a tech company that crosses with the physical world.
Linkedin APM program
The LinkedIn APM program will “develop entry-level talent into world-class product managers”. It’s designed for the new college graduate with their first full-time job. This program is unique because it allows participants to gain practical experience by defining a product roadmap and working with various teams to launch it. Weekly learning sessions, organized events, and international trips are included.
Lyft APM program
The Lyft APM program is 18 months long, and APMs will rotate through two different product teams during their experience. This program is designed for people that have graduated from college within the past two years. Lyft will partner you with an assigned mentor and provide various learning experiences to improve your skills.
Some other honorable mentions include Atlassian, Dropbox, and Microsoft.
How to choose the perfect APM or product manager rotational program for you?
The first step is to consider your career goals. This will help you determine what you want to learn in an APM program and narrow down your list to what meets your goals.
Here are few questions to consider when choosing an APM program for you:
- How big is the company?
- What’s the alumni network like?
- Do I need a technical background?
- What is the company culture?
- What product teams could I be on, and what will I learn from them?
- How big is the average cohort?
- How does the company ensure that their APMs are learning?
- Will you have personalized mentorship? Who are your mentors?
APM programs offer a valuable learning experience for recent college graduates looking for an entry-level position. They are an excellent way to build your career and network with other product managers. It gives you the opportunity to get practical experience about product management, which is hard to do in college.
If you have leadership experience, can demonstrate analytical skills, and have a willingness to learn, an APM program may be something you want to consider to boost your resume.