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Advice for transitioning into aerospace project management

Veteran

Lauren Fenley Killeen, TX

I am an Army engineer officer with over 7 years of experience in leading teams and managing projects. I am a PMP, have a M.S. in Engineering Management and an active TS/SCI.

I would like to work in project management in the aerospace industry (initial interests are in rockets/missiles and mission systems), but after reading a variety of job descriptions from different companies I am unsure what type of roles I would be best suited for.

What types/levels of jobs should someone with my experience and education realistically apply for? And, is there anything I can do (certifications, continuing education ect..) to make myself more competitive for roles?

Thanks!

18 March 2019 5 replies Career Exploration

Answers

Advisor

Tim Feemster Dallas, TX

I could hook you up with multiple companies in the Dallas/Ft Worth market in aerospace as well as other advanced manufacturing industries like automotive and electronics. You can connect with me at my personal email address- tim@feemsters.com. Many aerospace companies have facilities all over the US. Do you have a location preference or are you open?

22 March 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Chuck Burger King Of Prussia, PA

Lauren,

It should come as no surprise that Lockheed Martin is very progressive in the recruitment of veterans. With your background, skills, education and clearance, you are highly marketable in several areas. Here is a starting reference that my guess is you have already explored. https://www.lockheedmartinjobs.com/military

As you seemed to have discovered, the term project management can mean many things to many people, especially in terms of a specific position. That said, I think an early career to mid level position in a technical lead role would be a good start. Not having insight into your technical background/BS level education, I can only offer broad suggestions. A control account manager (CAM) for a hardware component/subsystem or software increment would have cost, schedule and technical responsibility for that end item and is a great launching pad to the PM field in the aerospace industry. From there you would transition to an Integrated Product team Lead (IPTL) with responsibility for cost, schedule and technical performance of many CAMs. Form there possibly systems engineering and integration (SE&I) lead with responsibility for many IPTLs or perhaps as a stint as a deputy PM on a smaller scale project.

Lockheed Martin offers a wide range of potential opportunities across a wide range of product lines in just about every state in the nation in addition to overseas. About 2.5 hours north of you is Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. You could literally spend the rest of your career working the F-35 program. With your clearances there may be opportunities at the venerable Skunk Works in Palmdale.

Since you specifically mentioned missiles, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is about an hour east of Fort Worth right near DFW. Rockets? Approximately 10 hours north DFW is Lockheed Martin Space in the Denver Metro area. You are likely catching my drift at this point :)

For you Lauren, the sky is the limit. I hope that you find this information useful. Please reach out if I can be of any further assistance.

20 March 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

FRANCIS TEPEDINO, ESQ. San Diego, CA

You have a good background BUT BUT-- don't be fussy. Get in the "Mix" by getting a "starter" job at a reputable company, (there are lot of them), and once in, prove your worth.

If you are interested in coupling your Engineering with Law contact me. (This is what I did - in the evening program at
the University of San Diego School of Law) This combination will quickly put you far above, and far beyond, almost all the others in any field you wish to get into - plus as a women - Wow - there will be no stopping you.

20 March 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Nicole Perrelli Indianapolis, IN

Hi Lauren,

Online job postings can be pretty confusing because companies use the term 'project manager' for a variety of roles and levels. I've seen project managers in the companies I've worked for anywhere from the senior analyst (5 yrs experience) to the associate director (20+ yrs experience) level so I would focus more on the job description, scope of responsibilities, and skills and let the company decide what specific level they would want to bring you in at.

Having a PMP, a master's, and project management experience is a big advantage when applying. I would make sure to highlight in your resume and cover letter what projects you have worked on. Make sure you quantify the projects using level of spend, number of people managed, % improvements, etc. It helps the hiring manager when they know you've managed projects with $2 million in capital spend, been responsible for managing a $500k contract with 3 vendors, or delivered a quality project with 15% first pass yield improvement, etc.

I would also look at the career sites for companies you're interested in and see if they have veteran specific pages. United Technologies (my current parent company with a very large aerospace business) has a Military Skills Translator page (https://utc-veterans.jobs/) where you can type in your military job title or code to help filter the available job postings.

If you have specific roles you're looking at and want to get a second opinion feel free to shoot me a private message and a copy of your resume and I'd be happy to take a look!

-Nicole

18 March 2019 Helpful answer

Advisor

Katie Tamarelli Franklin, MI

Happy to put you in touch with my husband who has done a lot of work in that space.

Please feel free to send me a private message and I can put you in touch.

Best,
Katie

21 March 2019 Helpful answer

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