3 Questions with Megan Latimer, ’15, Project Manager

Welcome to “3 Questions with …”, a recurring feature on the Career Center blog. We’re asking alumni of all graduation years and career interests to share a bit of their experiences and advice. 

Megan Latimer, ’15, Project Manager

1. In just a few sentences, please tell us about your current job/graduate program/vocational endeavor.

I work as a Project Manager. My most recent project was working with Google for Education and Grow with Google on a new initiative. I managed a continent-wide program for educators across North America to become Google Certified Educators. As a project manager, I am brought on to a project and am responsible for that project from initiation to close. This means, making sure all the work gets done on time and in scope, managing the team, communicating to everyone involved in the project, mitigating risks, creating documentation, and being highly organized. Personally, I enjoy project management because of the organization, creativity, and variety. I love spreadsheets, templates, color-coding, and organizing. Project management requires a great deal of attention to detail and the ability to track and manage a multitude of information simultaneously. It involves creativity; the ability to problem-solve, wear multiple hats and think outside the box. Lastly, Project management has the potential for a great deal of variety. I have undertaken projects ranging from building the Anti-Racism Curriculum for The American Red Cross, to managing the re-zoning and transition of 8000 employees and volunteers, to planning Global meetings overseas. The ability to have that much variety in my role is something I value greatly.

2. How did your time at Tufts influence your career journey?

My time at Tufts greatly influenced my career journey. Some of the more obvious reasons that come to mind are the secondary knowledge that you gain from higher education: the ability to have articulate, high-level, and meaningful discussions on various topics, how to effectively communicate ideas and thoughts, and time management. Playing on the Club Soccer team at Tufts, I furthered my knowledge and practice for being a team player. And much of being a member of this club required taking the reins and organizing ourselves.

As an Anthropology major, I envisioned myself in countries overseas, conducting research and studying local peoples and cultures. Though I did not pursue the traditional Anthropologist path, I do use Anthropology every day in my role. Anthropology taught me empathy, perspective, multi-cultural competencies, and leadership. As a project manager, I solve a vast array of problems every day. This requires viewing problems from various perspectives to develop the best solution. Anthropology taught me how to put myself in a place where I could effectively solve a problem and not just apply a bandaid. Anthropology also taught me how to effectively communicate. From how to have full and meaningful conversations, to removing biases and judgment and being fully present, to making necessary adjustments to accommodate the needs of others.

The Career Center at Tufts was absolutely vital. Not only were the conversations insightful and productive, but the resources were invaluable. After graduating, I became the Executive Assistant to the CEO of EF Education First. After being in my role for almost three years, I decided it was time for my next step. I reached out to the Career Center and they helped me hone in on my values, skills, interests, and ultimately helped guide me into the Project Management sector, where I still am.

Being in the program with SMFA, I learned a great deal of lessons that applied to the “real-world.” My favorite being, how to fail. Failure was something I have never been comfortable with, as a high-achieving and highly competitive person, it felt counterintuitive to appreciate failure. But in my classes at SMFA I failed every day. For example, I would draw the still life in class and my professor would come around and tell me to start over, or would draw on-top of my work. At first it was jarring and daunting – I had just spent two hours drawing that. But in the end it was extremely beneficial, I could spend 6 more hours with the first piece trying to fix it, or I could accept failure and start the next iteration. And the next iteration was always better. And because of this, not only did my skills improve, but my perspective changed. Entering the workforce with the drive to succeed but the knowledge that I don’t mind failure made my experience better. I was able to have open and honest conversations with employers and team members about my performance and accept feedback, and this has fast-tracked onboarding, trust, performance, and confidence.

3. What advice would you offer to a student who wants to pursue a career path like yours?

Firstly, find an organization that supports your lifestyle and your goals. Throughout my career I have learned the value of organizations investing in their people. In addition to salary, ask about the benefits package, professional development opportunities, etc.

Secondly, If you can learn on the job, this is ideal. If you are able to find an organization and a manager who is willing to teach and coach you, this is the best way to get into project management. The certifications are useful, but the hands-on experience is invaluable.

When you are first starting out, conduct informational Interviews and build a community. Reach out to your network and conduct informational interviews with others who are in the project management field, find out what direction in project management you are interested in. And build a community of project managers, it’s great to have a group of people who understand what you are going through and that can support you when you have challenges or questions.

Get advice and information through career conversations

Chat with people like Megan in our flash mentoring database, The Herd

By Sheryl Rosenberg
Sheryl Rosenberg Associate Director