Action items to better network, interview prep, and show initiative

I like the exercise of building a 21 day plan to land a PM role because it has forced me to prioritize the most important tasks that align with the goal — getting that job offer.

It is important to recognize that some of the experiences that make a great PM candidate take months to build up over internships, projects, and initiatives. With that said, we won’t worry about your background much in these 21 days, with a few exceptions. Instead, we want to work on the highest impact areas: networking, interview preparation, initiative.

Week 1

Key moments that made these mock interviews stand out

With jam-packed lifestyles, we can all appreciate ways to squeeze in some PM interview preparation (that are enjoyable, too!). In fact, in my preparation for full-time PM interviews, I started to listen to mock PM interviews while I was on walks, long drives, cooking dinner, or in more focused sessions as I took notes of how the interviewee broke down the problem.

To kick off your prep, Claudia, Aveneel, and I have collected and broke down some of our favorite videos from Exponent, who have a wide range of interviews on their YouTube channel. …

Tips from a Harvard MBA and current VP of product

I connected with a good friend and mentor, Adam Christensen, about the role his MBA from Harvard Business School has played in his personal growth and career trajectory. Adam is currently a VP of product at Marqeta. The following questions and answers are paraphrased from our recent conversation on the topic.

What was your initial motivation to go to business school?

I started out writing code, and found the experience of seeing a binary outcome from my work very satisfying. By binary, I mean that if there was a bug I could fix it and see the tangible results of my work. …

Understand how the model works and how to deal with its pitfalls

Text classification is a quite common natural language processing application. This article aims to give a high level overview of some text classification applications, and then an introduction to a Naive Bayes model, a foundation of text classification.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Text Classification Applications

You may see it applied in areas such as:

  • Sentiment Analysis: Here we can classify text as positive, negative, or otherwise. How does a platform with millions of users such as Facebook or Twitter moderate content and detect hate speech? This is a huge area of development and research nowadays
  • Spam Filtering: You are probably pretty familiar with this one — there…

How to frame your previous experiences to show potential and preparation for a PM role

A few weeks ago I was talking with a student interested in landing a PM internship at Ancestry, where I worked last summer. One of the most interesting questions he asked me was:

“How do I frame my previous experiences to show potential and preparation for a PM role?”

I like this question because it speaks to a few key points about product roles that I’d like to dive into:

  1. Hiring managers ARE looking for candidates that can bring value. It’s important to understand where a PM’s value comes from.
  2. PMs come from all backgrounds. Often, having a breadth of…


Product design questions often come in the form: Design X for Y.

Examples include:

  1. Design a social app for college students 🧑‍🎓
  2. Design an application to help cheese connoisseurs purchase cheese 🧀
  3. Design a surfboard for first-time surfers 🏄‍♀️

You may want to jump straight to some fantastic ideas you have for features. However, unless you have clear reasoning for your idea, it will be tough to convince your team of its validity. With that said, product design questions are a great exercise in applying structured thinking to a problem.

Interviewers are typically looking to see a clear, logical thought…

The Marqeta Intern Class of 2019

Some Highlights To Set the Scene

A few of the highlights of my 3 month product internship at Marqeta (a fin-tech company in the Oakland, CA area) included:

  • Firing questions at our CEO Jason over breakfast. He didn’t even have a chance to finish his egg sandwich 😉
  • Spending a morning volunteering with all of the other interns in a beautiful garden as part of the charity Beyond Emancipation
  • Participating in the most intense ping-pong tournament I’ve had the chance to be a part of
  • Draining the company fridges of coconut water and mini Perfect Bars
  • Learning about product management from my awesome team and through…

There are two ways to contribute to The Aspiring PM:

  1. Share questions and topics you would like covered in future APM articles by filling out this form.
  2. Publishing your own article (addressed further below). If you are already familiar with APM, our goals, what we look for in an article, and the process of publishing on Medium, feel free to submit your article. Once you are approved as an author, you will have publishing privileges to publish without approval in the future and can publish through this process.
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Publishing on The APM

The Aspiring PM is a publication focused on making product management more…

All my life I had planned on being a doctor.

I believe this aspiration came because of my early exposure to medicine through numerous relatives in that field. Medicine is respectable and always seemed to draw a warm response when I was inevitably asked, “What do you want to do when you are older?”

The early days! I’m on the far left :)

Fast forward to my second year at UC Berkeley. I dropped my pre-med aspirations (I wasn’t the only one!), joined a consulting club, and set my sights on diving into consulting post-grad.

Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

The Idea

About a year ago, my roommate told me he had made a sweet gift for his girlfriend by downloading all of their iMessage data, and pointing out key moments in their relationships based on their messages.

I know what you are thinking — how nerdy can you get! My sister said the same thing, but when I followed his lead and tried out something similar this Christmas, I was super happy with the result.

You can do this too! Before I dive into how to do the analysis, I want to give a quick overview of the final product.


Jake Tennant

UC Berkeley Data Science · Tofu Pudding Addict · Incoming Coinbase APM.

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