Product management is an essential part of every company offering any sorts of products or services. With so many new products in the market, the product management industry is growing exponentially. As a result, there’s a growing insurgence of hiring product manager interns across the United States.
If you surf through job boards and hiring sites, you’ll see product manager internships in almost every city, including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and even cities like Bellevue and Grand Rapids. There is an abundance of product manager internships from large companies, such as Google, LinkedIn, Dematic, and Fivestars. However, you’ll find lots of opportunities to become a product management intern at smaller companies, as well.
In this article, we’ll dive into what the product manager internship is about, what the typical job description looks like, and what roles and responsibilities befall product manager interns.
Let's take a look.
What is the Role of a Product Management Intern?
Product manager interns are usually not new to the product management field. Most of the time, they have experience in product development, product marketing, and project management.
A product expert’s professional development as a product manager usually depends on this experience. At times, associate product managers start with a product manager internship before assuming the role. Other times, folks from the product team end up with a product manager internship as a means of professional development.
Nowadays, product manager internships usually have additional requirements, such as experience in software development, user research, data analysis, and computer science.
Product manager interns also have to work with other departments, program managers, and the management team. Therefore, excellent communication skills are a must.
Product manager internships vary a lot depending on the industry or company you’re interning at. Some companies consider the internship a formality. Alternatively, some companies treat internships as a way of determining the right product manager for a product.
In any case, interns typically have to do user research and understand user behavior. They analyze the data and identify trends to craft workable strategies. These strategies are recommendations for improvements to the current business and product strategy.
Product manager interns can work both full-time or part-time. They are paired with team members who can also provide mentorship. The mentor usually provides insights into the product requirements, product design, product roadmap, and lifecycle. This way, the intern will have a better idea and understanding of the product.
Lastly, product manager internships can also be department-specific. For example, the intern can be sent to work with engineering teams.
Product Manager Intern Job Description
Many product management professionals find it hard to find product manager jobs. As a result, they opt for a product manager internship to either get more relevant work experience or as a means of getting the job.
Several job postings from equal opportunity employers across the United States emphasize the rewards of product management internships. For example, many job alerts focus on things like health insurance benefits or new features of a product tool. However, the primary focus should be on what the intern would learn from the internship and which prospects it would open up for them.
Here’s how a typical product manager internship job description is written. Keep in mind that this job description is general in nature and may change depending on the industry, company, or product.
“We’re looking for a Product Manager Intern who can work across multiple product and engineering teams. You will have to work with account management teams to document user responses to a product. Using that data, you’ll develop templates and strategies to increase productivity and improve the products.
You may have to learn new things such as software development, agile methodologies, and product lifecycle management.
You’ll be working with UX/UI experts, salespeople, marketing teams, and even developers. Furthermore, you will also work to ensure that quality assurance testing is done right.
You must have a Bachelor’s degree and experience in product management. Additional certifications and a product/project portfolio are recommended."
As a recruiter, it may be wise to include information on your hiring practices. For example, the job description can include your adherence to the National Origin Discrimination law or how there is no discrimination based on sexual orientation, among other things.
Roles and Responsibilities During a Project Manager Internship
The roles and responsibilities of product manager interns can change drastically. Every company has their agenda when it comes to internships, and, as a result, each product manager internship can have varying duties.
However, product manager internships are practically what a product manager has to do in their daily duties. Therefore, product manager internships usually have the same roles and responsibilities as a product manager – albeit, without the decision-making powers.
Here are the typical roles and responsibilities you can expect from a product manager internship.
Develop and Improve Strategies
Product manager interns actively work on product and business strategies. While they don’t have any decision-making power, they can recommend new strategies or improvements to the current ones.
They can also prioritize specific strategies if their research and analysis show promise.
Furthermore, they can recommend and bring up new product initiatives and programs. The intern can either take their recommendations to the product manager or directly to the upper management.
Interns are specially equipped to provide strategy recommendations because a considerable part of their job requires them to listen to customers. They gather feedback, analyze it, and develop strategies on how the product can be improved. Those recommendations can be used to enhance current product and business strategies, as well.
While this is one of the duties of a product manager, many of them hire product manager interns to do it. The idea is to save time while letting the interns learn more about customer research and product strategies.
Collaborate with All Relevant Stakeholders
Product manager interns have to actively communicate with everyone that’s associated with the product. That includes product designers, product owners, user researchers, data scientists, product marketers, and engineers.
The interns have to collaborate with all parties and develop a communication system for instant information feedback.
The collaboration helps interns recognize and analyze patterns and trends in the market, customer behavior, and how the products are received. It helps them identify new opportunities for improved engagement and growth.
Furthermore, it helps them determine what features customers want to see in the product. Using that information and their collaborative efforts, the interns assist the design and engineering teams in building, testing, and applying new product features.
Work on the Product Roadmap and Lifecycle
Every product manager internship starts by providing the intern with a complete understanding of how the product works. Through this process, the intern learns about the product vision, product roadmap, and lifecycle.
Learning all of that helps the interns create and manage a feature backlog. The feature backlog helps keep a record of all the changes being applied to the product. Furthermore, it can work as a blueprint for other products in the product line.
Other than that, product manager interns also help with roadmap planning. While the product roadmap is developed beforehand, it regularly undergoes changes and modifications. Product manager interns can recommend changes and improvements to the product roadmap if they have data to back up their recommendations.
Conduct Experiments and Monitor Results
Product manager internships are usually considered back-end roles. That’s another way of saying that the interns mostly have to observe and recommend, nothing more.
However, product manager interns do have the power to plan and conduct experiments. These experiments need to be approved by the product manager or any other management employee—the approval is necessary if the experiment requires company resources.
Product manager interns conduct these experiments and monitor the results to come up with recommendations for improvements.
Their job is to look at the product, product processes, and strategies from a different perspective.
Becoming a Product Management Intern
Getting a product manager internship is a great way to open yourself up to the product manager position. Some companies need past product management experience while others are ready to give people with no experience a chance.
In any case, a product manager internship is an excellent way to learn about the roles and responsibilities of a product manager.
As a recruiter, it’s essential that you tailor the product manager internship job description according to your company and industry—it will help you hire the right product manager intern for your company.
If you are new to product management and are looking to break into your first product role, we recommend taking our One Week PM course, where you will learn fundamentals of product management, launch your own product, and get on the fast track towards landing your first product job.