How To Get Started in Product Management

Posted on November 12, 2021 by Anna

The role of product manager (PM) is the most fascinating role within tech teams right now. PMs are closest to the center of the action, and often go on to start their own companies. It’s no surprise that product management has begun to show up on lists of the best, hottest, and most promising careers in the U.S. (and not just in tech).

Product Management has been rising in popularity as a career path and created more competition in the job market due to the increased density of candidates. Interested? Keep reading to find out if Product Management is the right career for you. 

What is Product Management


A Product Manager serves as the liaison between the client, stakeholders, and the team who develops an app or digital product, including Designers and Developers. They guide the project and product, make decisions, manage a timeline, and analyze every step along the way.  Product Managers sometimes serve behind the scenes, but they are an integral part of all SaaS and technology companies.

The road to becoming a PM can often be long and unpredictable — the most interesting things in life often are. Zooming out, you can boil down the job of a PM into four words: “Figure out what’s next.” So, what comes next for your journey into product management? Develop the skills outlined below. Read, process, and put your learnings into action however you can (creativity is part of being a PM). Your job is to be as prepared as possible when an opportunity arises. 



You Might be a good fit for Product Management if you are good at: 

1. Taking any problem and being able to develop a strategy to resolve it 


A good strategy is a set of actions that is credible, coherent, and focused on overcoming the biggest hurdle(s) in achieving a particular objective. Richard Rumelt

As a product manager, your job is to gather the resources for your team to drive business value, and strategize to solve your company’s problems. A product manager is someone who holds somewhat of a “coping saw” for their company. They are the ones who will ultimately see problems, devise strategies to solve them, and communicate the solutions to the executors. The job can be stressful at times, because ultimately everyone in the company is relying on the product manager to steer the ship in the right direction.

In order to start developing your strategy skills, ask the best PMs you know to talk you through the vision and strategy that they’ve developed on projects. Or you can take a problem your current company (or a company you want to work at) is having and come up with a framework that breaks the problem into solvable chunks


Resources to develop your strategic thinking

Some books to read for developing your strategic thinking:

2. Executing and getting things done.

Executing well is like captaining a tight, smooth-sailing ship. You need to make sure that everyone knows what they need to do and then does it, that the crew hums together in unison, [and] that you estimated the journey well enough to have packed ample supplies.

— Julie Zhuo

The PM role is one of execution and delivery. There is a lot of important and worthy discussion on product, vision, competitive landscape, market dynamics, growth opportunities , etc., but at the end of the day, the PM is responsible for executing.

Tactically this includes things like building a roadmap that everyone on your team is aligned behind, setting and hitting deadlines, and ruthlessly breaking down roadblocks. For new PMs, you should begin practicing this skill immediately. Pay attention to people around you that are good at executing — how do they run meetings, how do they address issues as they arise, what systems do they use to keep their team aligned?

Books to read on execution

3. Communicating Clearly

Engineers code, designers produce designs, and product managers …communicate. Everything you do as a product manager is done through writing, speaking, and meetings. As Andrew Bosworth puts it, “communication is the job.” You can never be too good at this, and it’s very difficult to over-communicate.

Communication is the most essential of Product Management skills. To be successful, you will need to ‘sell’ your vision of how things should be to your company’s decision-makers (i.e., Marketing, Sales, Developers), then be able to work with each department to execute that vision into a product that customers love. You are the bridge between founders, investors, clients, designers, engineers—everyone in the company who has a stake in the outcome of your product.

Build Communication Skills With These Resources

4. Making decisions, informed by data 

The decisions PMs make are the ones that unblock their team so they can continue to build. They don’t need to make every decision, but they are responsible for ensuring a decision gets made — whether by them, their team, or their stakeholders. — Brandon Chu

Teams generally look to the PM to help them reach decisions. Expect to be making dozens of decisions on behalf of the team daily. Your best friend in making decisions is a clear set of principles you aligned on previously, and hard data (both quantitative and qualitative). The less opinions you have to rely on and the more facts you have at your disposal, the easier your life gets. Study how successful companies make decisions through experimentation (Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Pinterest), and find a way to launch an experiment or two where you work today. Watch successful leaders around you make decisions — how quickly are they making decisions, what do they ask about before making a decision, how do they communicate their reasoning?

Books to read to develop decision-making skills


If you have these skills or are ready to develop them your next step is to find courses on Product management or join a Bootcamp. 

Take a product management certification course.

Once you know what you’re missing, you need to educate yourself. You can invest in a product management or product owner course. Alternatively, if you feel you just need a little insight into specific topics, there are many free resources on the internet that can help you, like Google Analytics Academy, and Udemy. 

You can also get product management certifications from colleges like  Cornell, UC Berkeley, and Northwestern 

Product Management may seem like a daunting field to jump into but it doesn’t have to be! And if you’re already a Product Manager but looking to take your skills and career to the next level, Product Gym can help you do that and so much more. Get started with Product Gym today!

Posted under: Personal Finance, Professional Development, MeratasMemo

How To Quit A Job That Isn’t Right For You

Posted on November 9, 2021 by Anna

We all want to love the work we do. But if you’re like the average American—who will change jobs 12 times before they’re 52 —chances are you might end up at a job you hate at some point. A recent Gallup poll found that 66 percent of Americans aren’t fully engaged or enthusiastic about their jobs. That’s a lot of people just “working for the weekend.” And hating a job can reverberate through much more than just the hours of 9 to 5. When we’re unhappy in our work, it can affect every aspect of our lives, from getting sick more frequently to losing sleep to depression and anxiety

So if you hate your job, it may be time to quit. And while, sure, it can be stressful to leave, it doesn’t have to be. But it’s important to ask yourself these three questions before quitting. We’ll also explore the ways to quit your job without burning bridges.

1. Is this a passing emotion?

In short, are you having a brief bad spell? Or is this the tenth Monday in a row when you’ve awakened at home and dreaded heading to work?

Think about what Steve Jobs said in his 2005 speech at Stanford University:

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” If you put a percentage on it, how often do you find yourself wishing you don’t have to go to work? 

Of course, you’re going to have bad days sometimes. But people who work for 40 years get about 8,800 working days. So when bad days become too regular, it’s time to think about moving on. 

2. Does your job negatively affect your life?

Work is essential, but it’s not the only thing in life. It would help if you asked yourself these questions

If the answer to these questions are yes, then it may be time to re-consider the job you’re in.

3. Do you feel like you’ve stopped growing professionally? 

If you feel stagnant professionally, it could be a sign that you are in the wrong field. For instance, you could have been in the same job for over three years but are not growing with the company or learning anything new. It’s essential to never stop growing and learning. Since we spend a majority of our waking hours at work, it stands to reason that this is a crucial question. In fact, a British study based on the lives of 600,000 people concluded that “lifelong learning” was one of seven factors that led to greater longevity.

When you’re always learning in your role, you open yourself up to new opportunities at your current company, more chances for promotions, a higher likelihood of earning more income, and even making yourself more valuable when you move on to the next venture.

Try cataloging where you’ve learned and grown in this job. Is it difficult to find even a few examples? If you’re putting in hours, trading your time for money, and helping build someone else’s wealth — but not growing, learning, and gaining things that you value — then think about quitting.

Next Steps

Everything up to here is about whether you should quit once you’ve decided that it’s time to quit your job. But, of course, once you’ve made that decision, there is nothing at all wrong with sticking it out another three or six months — whatever you need, frankly — to formulate a plan.

Maybe it’s about getting serious about a job search, or starting to lay the groundwork for a side hustle that could turn into something bigger, or finding ways to cut spending and build up your savings before moving on.

Here’s the best way to quit your job that will leave you prepared for the future.

Find Your Next Job Before You Leave

Though this might seem like an obvious first step before quitting a job you hate, some job seekers still make the mistake of not lining up for their next gig. Research shows it’s easier to get a job offer when you’re still employed.

Before you quit, update your resume and LinkedIn profile, and start your job search during non work hours. Begin to ask for recommendations from former supervisors and colleagues. Also, save work samples to help build your portfolio. Need some help? Check out our blog. 

When preparing to search for a new job, make sure to register and upload your resume to popular job websites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and CareerBuilder. Companies and recruiters scan these sites frequently. Also, turn on notifications so that you receive daily job alert emails.

Inform Your Employer

Once you find a job and decide to leave your current job, you need to tell your employer. It would be best to leave your current employer on good terms, as you might need them to act as your references in the future. Tips for telling your boss that you are leaving include:

Give two weeks’ notice, if possible, and try to tell your boss in person. This might be nerve-wracking, but it is the polite, professional thing to do.

Keep it brief. One way to keep the conversation positive is to be general and concise about your reason for leaving. For example, you can simply say you are leaving for “a new opportunity” or another general reason. Maybe you can also offer to help find and train your replacement to go the extra mile and show you still care about the team you’re leaving.
Remember: Transitions can be scary, but the average American spends over 90,000 hours at their job over a lifetime. You deserve to spend that time doing something that fuels your bank account and your career and what gets you excited. Do you want more tips and tricks on navigating your professional life? The Meratas blog has you covered on building the best career for you!

Posted under: Professional Development, MeratasMemo

How Schools Can Prepare Their Students for the Professional World

Posted on November 5, 2021 by Anna

What are the most important skills that students need to prepare for the 21st Century workforce? More importantly, how can educators, boot camps, and programs help kids gain these competencies? How are universities responding to preparing their students for future employment?

We’re going to break down the top ways schools can help prepare their students for the professional world.


1. Encourage Teamwork

One of the biggest things that students today need to succeed at work is the ability to work as a team. They need to understand how to communicate, compromise and share credit so that they can be a valuable contributing member to projects. This can be taught in school by encouraging teamwork on some projects and assignments.

Students who want a position of leadership should know how to work in teams, manage projects, and meet deadlines. While students may learn these skills in the workplace, there are steps teachers can take to help prepare them for these challenges. Teachers need to dispel the idea that working together is cheating or somehow not what happens in the professional world. In many workplaces, working in teams is a requirement for success. Students must be taught how to work in teams while honoring individual accountability. Part of that will be learning how to give and receive feedback constructively. The other part is self-awareness: an ability to monitor their own progress and realize when they could use coaching or additional materials.



2. Think Towards The Future


In many ways, real-life begins at graduation for students — they begin to put their knowledge into use and manage their own finances and life plans. So schools should focus not just on whether students have learned material, but where it will take students later. Will they be a financial, career, and personal success because of what they learned? And when students ask, “Will I ever even use this in real life?” have an answer — and an example of why they will.

 

3. Teach Complex Thinking Skills

In the current workplace, it’s not just about getting to the right end, but getting there by the best path. This is something that can be reinforced in colleges or bootcamps by giving students context for decision-making and solving problems.

Jobs in the modern workplace require innovation, creativity, and the ability to look at a task and not only see the outcome, but also imagine different ways to achieve it.  Colleges and universities need to do a better job of teaching these skills. They need to teach students how to think, not what to think.

4. Involve more employers with your school


Adding workplace skills to academic study benefits students, but it also has advantages for universities. Being in touch with employers helps enhance the profile of a university with employers and make them more likely to recruit there. In addition, many national ranking systems use some measure of employment success in their calculations.

Because it involves the students who get involved in a live interview with a real employer, it means that many more recruiters know about the university. Again, this is bound to feed into job offers and help increase the school’s notability.

5. Offer Alternative Financing

The Student Borrower Protection Center reported that outstanding traditional private student loan debt grew 71% in the last decade, outpacing auto loans, credit card debt, and mortgage debt. For many families, the economic pinch is making it even more difficult to qualify for private financial aid.

The private student loan market is dependent on FICO scores and cosigners, so if you don’t have parents with great credit scores that are willing to cosign for your traditional private loan, you’re likely not going to get approved for a private student loan.

There are even students with 700 FICO scores (normally high enough for approval at a good interest rate) being quoted 18-19% interest rates on their loans for college or being rejected outright if they don’t have a cosigner.

In other words, amid uncertain economic times, the barrier to entry into higher education has gotten even higher. News of these trends has spread to universities. A recent survey of university presidents from Inside Higher Ed found that 90% of respondents are concerned about a long-term decline in overall future student enrollment. 

Using Income Share Agreements, we can open the doors to higher education to millions of Americans that either went to college and dropped out because of lack of availability of traditional loans, or that never went in the first place.

By utilizing ISAs, programs have seen higher enrollment, improved retention, and accelerated completion.

Income Share Agreements are making strong headway in the education finance world. Being a financing option that can withstand economic uncertainties such as a pandemic makes them a good option for students and schools alike. 

To be successful today, students need certain skills and key traits to perform well in real-world settings. Teaching students the skills they need in today’s work world in college and bootcamps is important!

Meratas

Meratas provides a full-service SaaS Platform for Schools and Skills-Training Courses to design, administer, and service custom ISA programs. We help institutions create impactful ISA programs designed to promote student accessibility and increase enrollment. 

Our programs are intended to incentivize students, schools, and capital providers to work together to promote and finance only the best educational programs that lead to more successful careers.

If you’re interested in offering an ISA option at your school or program that has been proven to increase student enrollment, there’s no better time to offer one than now! Click here to schedule a call with one of our ISA specialists and get your ISA program up and running today.

Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, Meratas Inc. makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content contained herein. Meratas Inc

Posted under: Income Share Agreements, College Post, MeratasMemo

How To Change Careers At Any Age

Posted on November 2, 2021 by Anna

Most people spend a third of their lives — or 90,000 hours — at work. Changing your career can sometimes be the next best step for your career journey, and in many instances, may be necessary to live the life you want, and in many instances, may be necessary to live the life you want. Because this is a big decision that will affect the rest of your professional life, taking time to do it right is essential.

No matter how you plan and execute a career change, there are some steps you can take to help manage the process.

If you are thinking about changing your career, maybe it’s time to start! Read on!



Why People Change Careers

There are many different reasons why one would want to change their career. Of course, it’s a personal decision with many factors involved. Joblist’s Midlife Career Crisis survey tells us the top five reasons people change jobs:

If one of those reasons resonates with you, we have some advice to help you get what you want.

  1. Keep a Journal

Keep a journal of your career journey. This is an excellent way to get to know yourself better to figure out what you want in terms of job satisfaction. You can also use it to figure out what makes you unhappy, so you can work on changing the things in your new job that are causing unhappiness.

You can keep a physical journal or do it electronically. Once you decide how to keep your journal, start writing entries about your thoughts and feelings related to your job satisfaction. 

Next, make a list of your skills and interests and consider the ways your strengths and weaknesses impact your satisfaction level at work.

Once you have a list of skills and interests, consider the opportunities you might have to use them. For example, if you’re a strong writer, look for jobs that emphasize writing skills. If you’re a creative thinker, think about jobs that will allow you to display your creativity.

  1. Decide if you want to change industries

If you are ready to make a career change, you may want to consider moving from one industry to another. 

When deciding to change careers, most people have a sense of discontent in their current position. However, it is crucial to determine if this feeling is related only to the specific job or the whole industry. If you are looking for a way out of your current career, changing industries may do the trick. On the other hand, if it is only your specific position that causes dissatisfaction, then changing careers may not be a viable option for you at this time.

The decision to move from one industry to another can have several advantages. The new industry might be growing faster than your current industry, and the old skills will translate into a new career path. Also, you might find that you are more passionate about your next career choice than your previous occupation. 



3. Brainstorm Careers

To become more informed on your career options, brainstorm the jobs and industries that may be a good fit for your skills and values. If you find it challenging to find a career that fits your needs, ask others in your professional network. You can also seek guidance in the form of career counseling, where you’ll likely learn more about your personality and how it fits into today’s evolving workforce.

One good approach is to collect information about the various occupations that interest you. First, however, it is helpful to list all your interests and other vital factors. If you have a strong sense of identity, you may know very well what you want to do, or at least have a few possibilities already in mind. Taking this preliminary step before diving into thorough research will help you narrow your career focus.


4. Research your target industry


Once you narrow your search to a particular industry, you can conduct informational interviews. If you are considering changing industries, your first step should be to conduct informational interviews with people who work in this field. An informational interview is a conversation with a professional in a specific area of interest to you. The purpose is not to secure a job but to learn about opportunities, challenges, and responsibilities associated with that career and the skills required for success. 

Before attending an informational interview, it’s a good idea to do some research, so you know what the company does and how the industry works. If possible, try to identify a few important trends in the industry. These are people who are already doing the work you are considering, so they have first-hand insight into whether or not it will meet your needs.



5. Make An Action Plan


Now that you have an idea of what you’ll need to do to accomplish your career change, think about your short-term and long-term goals for this new phase of your life.

If you’re changing careers, you might not know exactly what you want to do yet. That’s okay. The key is to develop a plan for achieving your career change. Planning ahead will help keep you on track, prevent burnout, and make it easier to manage competing priorities. Your action plan should outline what steps you need to take to achieve your career change and identify any potential barriers or challenges along the way.

An action plan is an organized way of making sure your goals are specific and measurable, as well as time-bound and rewarding. It is a way to help you ensure that you are on track to achieve your goals – and give you something to show potential employers when they ask about your career goals! It will keep you focused on what needs to be done next – and help ensure that you don’t miss critical opportunities along the way. You can use it as a checklist for achieving your ultimate goal: a new career.

6. Use your network

As you begin your career shift, remember to leverage your network. In the past, job searches were primarily done via classified ads or with headhunters. Today, however, you have a vast social network through which you can reach out to recruiters and hiring managers.

Building a professional online presence is a must when you are in the job searching process because it helps others learn more about who you are and what you bring to the table. Be sure to be professional in all of your online interactions. You never know who could be looking at your profile, so avoid posting anything that would harm your professional reputation.

7. Consider educational resources and develop new skills

If you are considering moving into a field that requires a degree or certifications, you may need to seek additional education beyond your current work experience. College courses, continuing-education classes, or even free online resources can help deepen your understanding of your new potential career.

The first step is to assess what you already know about the industry or occupation. Then, research what educational requirements are necessary for landing your dream job.

If you can’t take time off for school because of different reasons, don’t forget that there are still ways to gain new skills. You could take classes at night or pursue other training in your off-time. In addition, there are online courses available from reputable universities, podcasts from industry leaders, and formal and informal communities where you can connect with other people in your target field.

For example, a marketer who wants to move into finance may ask for control over the marketing budget to gain skills regarding working with ledgers. Seizing opportunities like this is helpful, but only if you remember to apply those newly acquired skills to your resume and cover letter.

Go to our get matched page to find a bootcamp that’s right for you. 


8. Commit to your desired career change


To keep yourself motivated in your career-change plan. Consider using a spreadsheet to log milestones as you make your way toward a complete career change. Sometimes, changing your career can take time. However, by tracking your progress, you acknowledge all the small victories along the way — and that can make you feel a greater sense of accomplishment as you successfully complete the switch.

Don’t look back and wonder where the time went. By implementing these eight steps, you can make a successful career change! If you’re looking for a career change but don’t know where to start, check out our get matched page to get matched with a career-building program!

Posted under: Professional Development, MeratasMemo

Get Matched: Start Your Career Through Our Partner Programs

Posted on October 25, 2021 by Anna

Does your current career feel like the wrong fit? Are you tired of feeling like you’re not making any progress in your career? Do you feel like life is standing still while you’re trying to get ahead? If you’re unhappy in your current employment, now is the time to change that.

But the job market is a harsh place. It’s difficult to upskill and learn new skills to change careers. You may be saying to yourself: I don’t have the time to learn a new skill. How am I going to pay for the training? I don’t even know where to start.

It’s hard to get a new job, and it’s even more difficult to get a job in a field you love. If you want to learn the skills required to upskill to a new career it may be difficult to know where to start.

Well, Meratas is here to help. Many people feel stuck in the wrong job or the wrong industry—and they know there’s something better out there for them, but don’t know how to get there. That’s why we are here. You can change careers! The path to a new career is closer than you think! We’re here to help you find a career you love.

If you’ve found your passion or are even just curious about where to get started, Meratas is here to actively partner you with one of our bootcamps or colleges to change your career and start something new.

We partner with programs like Sales, UX/UI Bootcamps, coding bootcamps, and colleges that are dedicated to their student’s success. If you need flexibility in paying for your education, we can help there too. All partners on the Meratas platform offer a form of incentive-aligned tuition which means not only do you have options no matter what your financial situation looks like, but you and your partner program’s goals are aligned. 


Incentive aligned tuition options give you access to things like income-linked repayment, deferment in case of career hardship, a cap on the maximum you’ll pay, and many other benefits!

We’re looking to help people bridge the gap between their current job and their dream job.  Meratas helps you find and finance your next career steps through our partnerships with colleges and bootcamps.

Are you ready to start a new career and get ahead? Let us help you kickstart your new career journey. Fill out the info on our student’s page and get started today! Check out our get matched page to get started!

Posted under: MeratasMemo, Uncategorized

ISA Student Benefit: Painless Deferment

Posted on June 18, 2021 by Anna

Income Share Agreements (ISAs) are emerging as an excellent alternative to traditional private student loans. With this type of agreement, students pay nothing, in most cases, until after they complete their program. Then, once a student has finished the program and gets a job using their new skills, they pay a percentage of their income for a set period of time until they have either reached the Required Payments, Max Payment Cap, or Payment Window. 

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Posted under: MeratasMemo

Working From Home? Here’s Why You Need a Commute

Posted on May 28, 2021 by Anna

Before Covid-19, 86% of the 151 million American workers surveyed for the 2018 American Community Survey said they drove to work each day. But the pandemic put this to a screeching halt. People are struggling with overworking and separating themselves emotionally from work. We’re working at home and we’re sleeping at work, and it’s really confusing for our brains. That’s where a commute comes in.

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Posted under: MeratasMemo

Mastering the Inbound Funnel: How to Become a Great Tech Salesperson

Posted on June 10, 2019 by Anna

Software as a service (SaaS) is a tech-delivery model where centrally hosted software is licensed and delivered to customer’s on a subscription basis. Also referred to as cloud-software, SaaS has become today’s dominant means of software solutions for virtually every single conceivable business need.

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Posted under: MeratasMemo, Uncategorized

State of Illinois Passes Income Share Agreement (ISA) Act

Posted on October 30, 2019 by Anna

In a step forward for state regulation of Income Share Agreements (ISA), Illinois recently signed into law the Student Investment Account Act (Act).

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Posted under: MeratasMemo, Uncategorized

Unlocking the Potential of ISAs to Tackle the Student Debt Crisis

Posted on November 8, 2019 by Anna

This post was originally written by Richard Price of the Christensen Institute. The original post along with his full paper can be found here.

With one million defaults on traditional private student loans every year, and $1.6 trillion in outstanding student debt, it’s clear the U.S. is in desperate need of innovative funding models in higher education. Income Share Agreements, or ISAs, stand to provide a promising alternative to high-risk traditional private student loans, as they better align the interests of students, schools, and lenders.

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Posted under: Income Share Agreements, MeratasMemo
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