Looking to make a breakthrough into product management but don’t have a product background? Well, the good news is that you don’t need one and it’s never too late to start.
I am Muskaan Bhambri, a 2021 engineering undergrad from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. I work as an Associate Product Manager at PayU. More specifically, I work with the payment experience and the core payments team and own a couple of initiatives under these domains.
I started my journey with PayU as a Product Management Intern. I transitioned from research into the product, and ever since I got a flavour of product management, I knew that it was something that I wanted to pursue. Hence, despite having an on-campus consultancy offer, I kept pursuing product management roles. One of the biggest challenges I faced while applying for product roles off-campus was the lack of hands-on experience in products. All my internships had been in Research & Development (R&D), and product management was an altogether different ball game for me. Nevertheless, I was determined and passionate enough to start, no matter how late I was.
I decided to apply for internships and get an insight into the DNA of the role before applying for full-time positions. In just three months, I ended up landing two product management internships and a full-time product analyst offer.
How I ended up being an Associate Product Manager at PayU is a story worth sharing. PayU started hiring product interns for the first time, and I was lucky to get that opportunity. I knew that the problems and the scale that I’d get to work on at PayU would be immense, and this is when I knew that I had to seize this opportunity.
The hiring process was pretty organized. I saw a post about an internship opening at PayU on LinkedIn and emailed my resume and profile. Unlike my experience with other companies, where you usually need a referral to get an interview in the first place, PayU followed a very diligent hiring process. I didn’t need a referral, and I heard back from them in a few days. It reflects how they value employee work culture and seek to increase accessibility and diversity in their hiring process!
Following this profile-based preliminary screening, I had four other rounds:
Round 1: General Introduction Round
This was a general chat with Naveen Athresh – Senior Director, Product, IXD, Process design at PayU. It was a nice 30-min long conversation about my past experiences, my inclination towards the product, product vision at PayU, and what to expect from the internship. Knowing that I’d be getting a chance to be mentored by some of the most experienced leaders in the product ecosystem kept me going.
Round 2: Assignment Round
I was notified that I’d be given an assignment to work on. However, what I didn’t expect was that the assignment would be so diverse. There were questions on product thinking and design thinking, guesstimates, metrics, and general questions about a day in the life of a Product Manager (PM). There were 12 questions in total, and I had about 6-7 hours to submit the assignment.
The questions measured both the breadth and the depth of one’s product knowledge, and I thoroughly enjoyed working on them.
Round 3: Product Thinking Round
This turned out pretty interesting! I was interviewed by Saurabh Kumar – Associate Director of Merchant Experience at PayU. He asked me about my favourite product, how I thought about metrics and my understanding of user personas. I was asked to redesign Instagram for the older generation.
It was an exciting conversation, and we ended up discussing merchant experience and new product initiatives at PayU.
Round 4: HR Round
The final round was with HR. It was mainly to gauge if I was a good fit at PayU. It was more of a conversation on my interests, who I am, and my hobbies outside of work.
The entire process lasted about a month, and finally, on one fine afternoon, an email popped up in my inbox bearing the good news. I was extended an internship offer at PayU. I was super delighted to begin this journey.
Transition from an Intern to a Full-Time Product Manager
But the story just began here. My experience at PayU as an intern was phenomenal. Most of the companies don’t offer much ownership to the interns, and they are usually hired to help with the day-to-day tasks of the firm. Luckily, at PayU, I was given the opportunity to work on an Innovation Track Project. And guess what? I owned the entire project and was responsible for building it from scratch and scaling it from 0-1. One of the reasons I like Product Management is that it gives complete ownership of a problem that one wishes to solve. At PayU, I got to exercise that kind of ownership to the fullest. The zeal was immense.
It was a 6-month long internship, but fortunately, I was extended a full-time Associate Product Manager offer after 3-months. I chose PayU primarily because of two reasons:
I loved the work at PayU.
More than that, I really loved the work culture and the people with whom I worked. My mentors were there to support me throughout, and it felt like being at the right place.
All I ever wanted was to kickstart my career in Product. I was fortunate enough to have a breakthrough at PayU, a happy ending to my placement process, and an amazing start to a new chapter of my professional life.
Fast forward to today; it’s been just over two months since I’ve been a part of PayU. Each day has something new in store for me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience.
So finally, what’s the biggest takeaway? Be patient and be persistent. Sooner or later, you’ll complete your jigsaw.
Thanks for reading 🙂
Wishing you all the best with your product journey!