Course establishes credibility, common language for Navy Yard project managers

April 23, 2018

MALVERN, Pa. — Working at a growing company, Mike Rhoads and Vince Giannone needed a way build credibility among new clients and manage change.

Both project managers at The Navy Yard’s Rhoads Industries — a company proving industrial fabrication, installation, and maintenance for commercial and governmental projects — they were looking for formal training when they heard about Penn State’s project management certificate.

Extended to The Navy Yard through the Great Valley campus, the four-course certificate allows students to move through the program together, breaking up into teams and tackling a relevant project.

“In the certificate program, we focus on real-world examples,” said Michael Katz, who teaches courses in the certificate program and is an IT professional with 15 years of project management experience. “We talk about projects I have been involved with, projects at their companies, what worked, and what didn’t.”

In fall 2016, Giannone, Rhoads and several coworkers started taking weekly evening classes. By spring, they earned their certificates, but that didn’t stop the two men from continuing their studies. They enrolled in Penn State’s Project Management Professional (PMP) exam preparation course that summer.

Affiliated with the Project Management Institute (PMI), the PMP is considered the gold standard in project management worldwide. On average, PMP-certified professionals earn 20 percent more than their colleagues.

Studying for the four-hour exam can be daunting, which is why Katz teaches the preparation course in addition to the certificate.

“From the beginning, I knew I wanted that credential,” said Giannone. “Having a PMP would validate the work that I do, but I wasn’t sure where to start.”

“This class provides structure; it prepares you to study,” added Katz. “Students gain insight into the Project Management Institute way of thinking — how the material is organized, the language they use, and the format of the exam. My job is to walk students through it.”

Like each project management course, the PMP exam preparation course is held weekly over seven sessions. While Penn State’s course can be taken independently of the certificate program, Katz recommends enrolling in both.

“There really is a magic to learning the two,” said Katz. “The certificate sheds light onto workplace application, while the preparation course focuses on PMI’s formal education and training.”

Rhoads agrees — the PMP exam differs from the certificate. “The PMP preparation course focused on the specific knowledge and tactics needed for taking the exam,” he said. “Katz’s insight saved me a ton of time in studying. Even though I didn’t take the exam for a few months, my notes and lessons from the class guided me in the right direction.”

Rhoads passed the PMP exam in February — just a short time after Giannone.

“Passing the PMP exam is a huge confidence boost,” said Katz. “It validates your knowledge; it demonstrates the scope of your background to clients, managers, or new employers. It can really open new doors.”

After earning the credential, Rhoads feels self-assured. “Passing the exam has given me a strong framework for managing projects at my job,” he added. “I feel like I have a good tool to fall back on when managing a project. It’s given a common language for discussing project topics with other PMP-certified members on my team. It’s given me self-assurance.”

For more information on the project management program offered both in Malvern and The Navy Yard, please visit the Penn State Great Valley website.

Last Updated July 23, 2018