Project Management: Moving Beyond a Natural Inclination

Posted by SPS on Feb 8, 2018 11:30:00 AM

For many, project management is a natural inclination: planning parties, coordinating wedding festivities, organizing community events. This inclination has led many to naturally “fall in” to a similar professional role, overseeing initiatives and directing teams. Yet not everyone who claims this innate ability possesses the knowledge and tools to effectively oversee processes, or manage teams within the workplace.

Jodi Davidson is among the many professionals who “fell” into project management; what began as a natural inclination - supported by a strong background in international business - soon became a career path. Now a seasoned professional, Davidson is committed to helping other similarly-inclined individuals hone and apply their project management skills.Jodi Davidson .jpg

Upon completing her MBA, Davidson sought a natural fit within the business world, a position where she could utilize her skills in communication, planning, and leadership. She began working with a technology company, leading credit card software project. From there, her role as a project manager broadened with consecutively larger projects - focusing on multi-site software installation - eventually leading her to launch project management offices for two different companies, instituting project management practices therein. “I have worked in every phase of project management,” Davidson explains, “driving everything from contracting, to planning, to leading teams of employees.” 

Project Management, like some project managers, has evolved over time. What was once viewed as a role that someone took on within a office or company, has since become not only a job title, but a career onto itself. “In the past,” notes Davidson, “people were designated to project management roles, and sometimes chaos ensued; initiatives failed because of lack of clarity.” “Over time,” Davidson continues, “the realization came that project management is a separate skill set; showing you have capabilities to launch, lead, and drive efforts.” With this realization, came the desire for certified project managers, who adhered an industry standard.

Founded in 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI), is a globally-recognized organization and standard-bearer, whose certifications and publications are valued across industry. Increasingly, PMI’s PMP® (Project Management Professional) certification has become a requirement for advancement - or even initial hiring - within the project management field. “Employers and clients often want (the project manager) to be certified,” explains Davidson, “so they will see that this individual has studied the discipline, and has acquired the necessary hours of experience.” Noting that she herself sat for the exam years ago, after obtaining the requisite amount of hours in the field, Davidson adds, “Without certification, you can ‘max out’ professionally; certification garners respect.”

Prior to sitting for the PMP® exam, professionals must earn 7,500 hours of experience leading and directing projects, and must complete 35 hours of project management education. For those who have completed a degree or certificate program in the project management field, these hours are a given, but for others, a PMP® exam preparation course typically fills the void. The College of Charleston Center for Continuing and Professional Education recently added such a program to their roster, partnering with Davidson to develop and teach the course. “I know it is very difficult to find the time to obtain 35 hours (of education),” says Davidson. “The structure that we built into this course - evenings and two weekends - offers work-life balance.”


In addition to the condensed format, it was important to Davidson that the course have practical applications. Though the course curriculum - as with all PMP® preparatory courses - is drawn from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), it also utilizes real-life situations to help students envision what to expect, and how solutions might work. Davidson emphasizes the importance of learning from her students; engaging, understanding, listening to their stories, and then asking, ‘how we can think through this together?’ Explaining her instructional techniques, Davidson points out, “Rarely are you a one person show; most projects are driven by team work collaboration.” With 19 years of practical experience, Davidson is well equipped to help students not only remember the material, but understand the applications: “With most prep courses, students are very much prepared to take the exam, but are not ready to use knowledge in day-to day life.” She continues, “Project management can be very theoretical, but my goal is to have students apply skills and tools immediately.”

While the benefits of PMP® preparation are clearly defined for those seeking certification, there are also benefits for other professionals. “If within the average work day, an individual is asked to use project management skills, they have something to gain from this course,” notes Davidson. Professionals who are not quite ready for PMP® certification may see where they need to gain more experience, or where they require further study - and can perhaps volunteer in the workplace to acquire additional skills. Employers also stand to benefit from employee participation. Through a preparatory course, project managers gain a common language, and a prescribed method for working as a team. As Davidson enthusiastically shares, “If a project is driven by people with project management skills, it increases the likelihood that the initiative will be successful.” With each successful initiative increasing the likelihood that an employer will achieve their overarching goal, well-trained project managers are an obvious boon in any industry.

As to the future of both the field of project management and PMP® certification, Davidson sees only growth on the horizon: “When we look at how innovation is occurring, how companies are able to grow quickly - there is a limited window for failure. From conception to completion, hitting the mark will become more and more critical in project management roles.” 
To those who have a natural inclination for project management, or those who acknowledge that it is a serous discipline and desire certification, Davidson is encouraging: “If you have an interest, or want to develop stronger skills, why not get training? Certification is very beneficial, it opens doors within companies, and is a great addition to your resume.” 
Jodi Davidson’s passion for the discipline is palpable as she enthuses, “as much as I can spread the word, I’m all in; project management is a great career.”

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Topics: Courses

Planning a Return to School

Posted by Allison Leach on Feb 2, 2018 4:00:00 PM

For traditional students, the decision to attend college is almost a given - something that is instilled in them throughout their high school years - and one where parents, teachers, and counsellors are often available to assist with plans and resources.  For adults returning to school, the path is much more self-driven, and requires a great deal of thought and research.

If you are considering returning to school, there are several steps that you should take before you even begin to research specific schools or apply to a given program.  Proceeding through these steps will help you to formalize your goals, and develop a cohesive plan for realization.

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Topics: Student

8 Suggestions for a Productive Summer Break

Posted by Allison Leach on Jun 15, 2017 12:00:00 PM

During the academic year, non-traditional students often burn the candle at both ends: juggling the responsibilities of academics, work, and family. Yet the arrival of summer typically offers some much-needed breathing room, whether in the form of a reduced course load, weekend getaways, or a complete break from school.

With summer in full swing, we hope that our students have been able to take some much-deserved time to unwind, and recharge for the upcoming semester.

Regardless of your academic plans, please consider some of the tips below, to put your extra time toward enjoying a productive, yet relaxing summer break.

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Topics: Health

Ashley Caldwell: Charleston's Social Media Maven

Posted by Allison Leach on May 12, 2017 11:00:00 AM

This post was originally published in March, 2016.

Ashley Caldwell will once again be serving as an instructor for the SPS’ popular Digital Marketing and Social Media workshop. This  program consists of a series of entry-level seminars designed to help small business owners learn about digital marketing strategies, and inspire them to incorporates these practices into their marketing plans.

Register Today!


As a freshman at the University of Colorado, Ashley Caldwell was among a cohort of college students who were embracing new forms of online interaction, such as MySpace and the then newly-released Facebook. These emerging social platforms quickly became part of Caldwell’s everyday life, as would soon become the case for much of mainstream culture, and the Communications major began to see untapped possibilities for this new form of media.

Although it had been largely overlooked in the course content, Caldwell chose social networking as the topic for her capstone project in a senior-year “New Media” course, focusing on Facebook’s potential business applications - a relatively new concept at the time. “It was practically unheard of for a business to be thinking about using social networking,” explains Caldwell, “but seeing the human to human connection really sparked my interest.”  It was this spark that would inspire Caldwell to develop her first social networking campaign, and lead her on the path toward becoming Charleston's go-to social media expert.

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Topics: Courses

Digital Marketing Workshop Teaches 21st Century Practices and Techniques

Posted by Allison Leach on Apr 25, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Digital marketing is a rapidly expanding segment of the marketing field; so much so that that the term “digital” has become somewhat superfluous.  To successfully market any product or service in our "plugged-in" society, one typically needs to employ internet and social-media driven campaigns.

Consultant LeeAnne Berlinsky was aware of this cultural shift when she was looking to promote her experiential leadership retreats.  As a modern entrepreneur, she was accustomed to promoting her professional endeavors online, but was unsure of the best avenue for each aspect of her business.  Realizing that she needed to learn more about different social media channels, she enrolled in the Digital Marketing and Social Media workshop offered through the College of Charleston JobBridge initiative. 

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Topics: Courses

Pursuing Your Passion

Posted by Allison Leach on Mar 15, 2017 1:00:00 PM

““Follow the calling in your heart; trust yourself.”


When Diana Deaver first set out to complete her bachelor’s degree, she had practicality in mind, not passion.

Like so many young adults, Deaver was seeking a credential that would help ensure a reasonable income, and selected a program that seemed like a means to that end; yet she knew that she was not following her calling. Luckily for Deaver, she had trusted advisors to steer her on the right path.

Deaver studied psycho-sociology at the Universitatea Virgil Madgearu in Romania in 2000, but after immigrating to the United States, abandoned her studies in favor of securing employment. “I took whatever jobs were available,” explains Deaver. “I was in this country by myself, and had no one to support me.” Deaver knew that a college degree was essential to career advancement and  -not wanting to get stuck - earned an Associate’s Degree from Trident Technical College.  Deaver subsequently enrolled at the College of Charleston as an accounting major, and was soon matched with a mentor through Charleston Young Professionals.

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Topics: Student, Homepage, Feature

Writing a Winning Personal Essay

Posted by Allison Leach on Feb 14, 2017 4:00:00 PM

Scholarships can be highly competitive, particularly when candidates present similarly impressive accomplishments. Whether applying for a merit-based or need-based scholarship, a personal essay is often the key to distinguishing yourself from a pool of candidates. 

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Topics: Student

Scholarship Opportunities for Non-Traditional Students

Posted by Allison Leach on Feb 8, 2017 7:00:00 PM


Financial need is a common concern for those pursuing a four-year degree, and is a frequent factor in student attrition.  Many prospective non-traditional students cite financial instability as a barrier to completing their education, and report that financial aid availability was key in deciding to pursue a degree-completion program.

Unfortunately, as many non-traditional students discover while researching financial aid possibilities, many scholarship and grant opportunities are limited to traditionally-aged students - or students who will be entering college as first-timefreshmen.  While this can be discouraging, prospective (and current) students will find that academic institutions, philanthropic organizations, corporations, and service organizations are increasingly recognizing the trend toward an older student population.  Although many scholarships and grants are still bound to a traditional demographic, scholarships are now being offered that specifically target non-traditional students - as well as single parents and degree-completion candidates.

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Topics: Student, News

Financial Resources Available to Non-Traditional Students

Posted by Allison Leach on Jan 27, 2017 5:30:00 PM

The rising cost of college tuition is a common concern among both traditional and non-traditional students, with financial need being cited as a primary barrier to initial enrollment, and a contributor to student attrition rates.  For prospective non-traditional students, financial instability may be one of the obstacles that led them to postpone their education, and the availability of financial aid may play a significant role in whether they ultimately decide to pursue degree-completion.

When researching degree programs, "sticker shock" is not an uncommon experience.  However, what prospective students may fail to realize is that the tuition “sticker price” is not an absolute: there are resources available to help ease the financial burden. Many schools will offer applicants a financial aid package, and students may also independently pursue other forms of financial assistance.

The college financial aid system can be quite complex - with its many types, terms, and eligibility requirements - and significant research may be required in order to fully understand what is available.

Below, we have provided a basic overview of the financial resources available to non-traditional students, many of which are administered through the College of Charleston Office of Financial Assistance and Veteran’s Affairs.  We hope that this information will illuminate the possibilities for obtaining an affordable education.

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Topics: Student

Returning to School: 5 Points to Consider

Posted by Allison Leach on Jan 20, 2017 4:30:06 PM

For traditional students, the decision to attend college is almost a given - something that is instilled in them throughout their high school years - and one where parents, teachers, and counsellors are often available to assist with plans and resources.  For adults returning to school, the path is much more self-driven, and requires a great deal of thought and research.


If you are considering returning to school, there are several steps that you should take before you even begin to research specific schools or apply to a given program.  Proceeding through these steps will help you to formalize your goals, and develop a cohesive plan for realization.

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Topics: Student

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