ProductCon Team New York 2024 / Product School

Hey there! I wanted to share a bit about my recent experience at ProductCon in New York, hosted by Product School.

Throughout this post, I’ll explain how my experiences at the event relate to real-world product management and how these skills are highly transferable. Even though this was on a smaller scale, the lessons learned scale up when working on big projects within an organization.

Spoiler alert: it was a mix of nerves, excitement, and a whole lot of learning.

So, I’m pretty new to the product world. I started at my current company last November, and let me tell you, the team there has been nothing short of amazing. They’ve been guiding me, answering my endless questions, and basically just being awesome mentors. My interest in product management has been growing, thanks to them.

One day, while scrolling through LinkedIn, I saw a post from Product School about volunteering for ProductCon. I was intrigued but also super hesitant. I mean, I’m just starting out, and the thought of being surrounded by seasoned pros was intimidating. Titles like Director, VP, Head of Product, CPO, and even CEOs were thrown around. How was I supposed to network with them?

I pondered over it for a few days, unsure if I should go for it. Then, a chat with my dad changed everything. He reminded me that everyone starts somewhere and that it’s okay to make mistakes. That reassurance made me realize that my desire to learn and grow was stronger than my fear. So, I signed up, ready to dive into the unknown.

May 28th arrived, and it was time to set up for the conference. Walking into the venue, I met the other volunteers. We were a mixed bunch, all with different backgrounds, but we quickly became a team. This experience wasn’t just about volunteering; it was a chance to up skill and grow.

  • Team Building & Collaboration: Working with a diverse group helped me understand different perspectives and how to collaborate effectively, just like in a product team. Helping each other with tasks showcased the power of teamwork, which is crucial for any product team to succeed.
  • Communication & Problem-Solving: Clear communication was essential as we familiarized ourselves with the venue and our tasks. Assisting others when they faced challenges highlighted the importance of problem-solving skills in product management.

During breaks, I got to know the other volunteers and Product School staff better. Understanding where people come from and their experiences really helps foster a better working environment.

  • Networking: Building relationships and understanding team dynamics are essential for creating a cohesive and productive team environment. Networking is also key for personal and professional growth in product management.

The big day on May 29th started early. We were all there at 7:00 am, committed to our roles. Even though it was an early start, the energy was high because we knew the Product School team was counting on us.

  • Commitment & Responsibility: Showing up early and ready to work demonstrated our commitment, similar to how product managers must be dedicated to their projects. Being reliable and accountable is key in product management, where each team member’s contribution matters.
Attendees at the conference networking
Attendees at the conference

As people started arriving, the registration area was buzzing. It was amazing to see so many knowledgeable and passionate folks in one place. Every talk was fantastic, making it hard to pick a favorite. I even got to chat with one of the speakers, and her encouragement was just what I needed.

Throughout the day, I chatted not only with attendees but also with venue staff and security guards. Sharing our love for soccer made for some fun conversations. I even discussed Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” with a few attendees, and it was cool to see how a show could inspire product development ideas.

  • Diverse Interactions & Creative Inspiration: Engaging with a wide range of people helped me see different perspectives, which is crucial for product managers who need to understand various stakeholders. Drawing inspiration from different sources, like TV shows, can spark innovative ideas in product development.

I also made some great connections with other volunteers, leading to potential future collaborations.

  • Continuous Learning: Always be open to learning from others, as it helps in staying updated and improving your skills. Building a network and forming potential collaborations are key for personal and professional growth in product management.

As the event wrapped up, I felt a sense of accomplishment. The Product School team was incredible. One of the reps, who everyone calls the Product School mom, gave me a big hug and thanked me for my work. That gesture hit home, highlighting the importance of gratitude and acknowledgment in building strong teams in product management.

  • Gratitude & Team Bonding: Recognizing and appreciating efforts build stronger, more motivated teams. Building strong relationships within the team enhances collaboration and project success.

Volunteering at ProductCon was eye-opening. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, taught me the value of teamwork, and showed me how important building relationships is. These are lessons I’ll carry forward in my product management career.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that growth often comes from stepping into the unknown and embracing new challenges. As I move forward, I’m more inspired and better equipped to contribute to the product management community and beyond.

Thanks for reading! If you’re on the fence about volunteering or stepping out of your comfort zone, take the leap. You never know where it might lead you! 🙂


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