Breaking into product management

This was the year that I found interest in product management so I decided to blog on the small footsteps that I made this year including how I got an interview at Google ( which I didn't make it to the next round ).

I guess it was around April 2020 that I did a self reflection on where I want to be in 5 years. My first two years of engineering I spent a lot of time experimenting with a lot of options including designing, development, research and even motivational speaking. So I took a piece of paper and wrote down all my interests and gave it a thought. I had this interest towards all the fields, like tech including programming, UX, a bit of business so I googled something like tech + UX + business. I noticed this word called product management and that was how I came to know of this field.


So I began reading about it and felt that "Okay this sounds like something I wanna do!". This idea of a magical fusion of tech, design and business and more over understanding the customers problems to craft the best solution for them sparked an interest in me.

By the end of May I began considering product management seriously as a career option. I reached out to a few product managers for advice. The first person that I reached out to was Anamita, she's the global product lead at IBM Q whom I met via the Qiskit Community. She recommended me to read the Lean Startup.

The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup consists of scientific approaches to build and deliver products for customers. It's about understanding the customers' need, and how your product always keeps on evolving. The Lean Startup also talks about approaches to measure the success of your product and how validated learning approaches can help deliver the right product that the customers want. The Lean Startup is the best book which can introduce you to a lot of concepts and approaches in building a product.

Around this time I also applied for a few internships for product manager roles in startups and other companies but as usual rejection ++. But luckily I managed to get an interview at a startup in Germany which I didn't manage to get due to timezone issues.

Meanwhile I also contacted Aswin an alumni of ours, who is a PM at Rakuten to learn more about his work as a product manager and frankly I definitely found this role very interesting. Everyday you get work on something different, although the role varies a lot in different companies it sounded fun.

While reading the lean startup I realised that successful products resonate with the user and that's how I stumbled upon the book Hooked


Hooked is one amazing book which discusses how some products capture our attention and how it becomes a part of our lives. Nir Eyal the author also talks about how a lot of products use psychological approaches to solve problems. I also realised how social media applications at its core solves the problem of "fear of being left out". Hooked is one amazing book to gain a lot of insights on how to understand your customers better.

Google APM Interview

Now coming to the major part after applying and getting rejected from a lot of companies including top MNCs ( Yeah I apply a lot I think I've got over 150+ rejection emails in 3 years ) I applied for an APM internship at Google. Google's Associate Product Manager Internship is one of those dream come true positions to get and luckily I got shortlisted for the interview.

The interview questions are confidential but this is how the application process went.

The application was via Google's career website I already had a resume prepared and I applied with for the position without a referral because at that moment I wanted to see if I could get past the initial round on my own. A few weeks later I was surprised to see an email saying that I was shortlisted so I began preparing by doing mock interviews, following books like cracking the PM interview, mock interviews on youtube. I put a lot of effort into it.

Then came the day for the interview. It was a 45 minute interview where I was interviewed by a product manager at Google he asked me about myself and a few other questions to break the ice and as part of the interview I got a product analytic and a product design question. I was able to answer the product design question well but I struggled a bit on the analytic question.

Three days later I received the email, you guessed it rejection++. Initially I was a bit sad but later I understood that my answer for the product analytic question wasn't that much structured. I'm still not sure if this was the exact reason but I assume it is since I did not get an exact feedback.

Even though I failed at this one I wear this failure as a badge of honour, all my efforts from April helped me reach this far and I'm still marching forward. I managed to learn a lot from this interview, and found about a lot of areas where I should improve and I'll definitely keep pushing myself. The best thing is that ever since I came to know about PM I began reading books almost every single day, that's one of the biggest achievements that I made this year. If you're wondering what I'm reading now it's Jeff Keller's Attitude Is Everything.

This is plausibly the last blog that I'm gonna write this year, so see ya later and take care!