Just like regular, 9 to 5 jobs, working from home also enables you to step up the career ladder. If you already have experience as a virtual assistant or social media manager, you can work your way up to become a project manager.
Rhea Agnes Alburo, 34, a chemist by profession who now works as a project manager for a Canada-based publishing company, says that you can earn anywhere between Php50,000 to Php150,000 monthly depending on the scope of the project being handled.
What is a project manager?
A project manager is responsible for leading an entire project “through initiation, planning, execution, control, and completion,” according to Rhea. This means your tasks and responsibilities will differ depending on the industry you are working in.
Since Rhea is working in a publishing company, she takes care of 40 authors under her name and connects them to clients to fulfill the project. “Some of my duties include taking part in the discovery call process, project execution, preparing communication methods, finding solutions to recurring issues, monitoring the project’s progress from start to finish, ensuring that the team actually gets work done, and many more,” she tells SmartParenting.com.ph.
“The entire responsibility of the project’s success falls on my shoulders. I will be held accountable for any of my team’s mistakes or for any client complaints. In this position, you’ll really focus both on the accuracy of your work and your team,” she adds.
What skills do you need to become a content writer?
According to Rhea, if you’re the kind of person who prefers diversity, this is the type of career that you’ll love. No project is the same and you’ll be relying heavily on your problem-solving skills.
If you’re a natural leader, a multitasker, and someone who likes to keep everything and everyone organized with a goal in mind, then project management is for you. A good project manager is a team player, sociable, and able to adapt to different people, cultures, environments, and situations. More than anything, they need to have a creative mindset, excellent time management skills, critical thinking, analytical, problem-solving, and negotiation skills, can maintain and meet deadlines and are capable of making decisions under pressure.
“To be a great project manager, you need to be flexible — you have to be a team leader, co-worker, and supervisor at the same time,” Rhea says.
How to be a project manager
Rhea says that given the right opportunity, anyone starting from an entry-level job can become a project manager. She shares that before working from home, she was a faculty member in a private school in Surigao City.
She then worked for a BPO (business process outsourcing) company and studied for her Master’s Degree in Chemistry at Ateneo de Davao. Unfortunately, she had to let these go as she separated from her husband and had to care for her daughter, Asha, who was only 5 years old at the time.
That’s when the opportunity to work from home came. “The night we left home, I was hired as a production specialist (in the same publishing company she works now). It was really unforgettable as it was Mother’s Day the following day and my daughter’s 5th birthday the day after!” Rhea shares.
It only took a month for Rhea to be promoted to project manager and assigned to two production specialists with 40 authors to take care of.
What it’s like to be a project manager
Rhea says that freelancing wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be. “I work morning hours when I got my first home-based job and my daughter understood that I am working from home already,” she shares. “When she was 9 years old, she already knew how to operate the gas stove, cook rice, and fry hotdog or eggs, so she could feed herself whenever I have long meetings or sleeping due to exhaustion.”
On weekdays, Rhea wakes up around lunchtime. She eats with Asha, who’s now 11 years old, then checks on their dogs. She gives Asha various tasks, then catches a few hours of sleep at 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Then she starts her 8-hour shift and goes to bed at 6 a.m.
“I don’t work on weekends as much as possible so I can have more time with my daughter,” Rhea shares. “We watch movies together and catch up after spending a week of ‘not-much talking’ to each other.”
Apart from her regular job, Rhea also helps out at Filipina Homebased Moms, or FHMoms, an online community with a mission to assist and support Filipina mothers in their freelance journey. She was formerly FHMoms’ online university head and currently offers a project management course on the page to train aspiring freelancer moms.
How to be a successful single mom
Rhea is motivated to continue her freelancing career because of her daughter. “As a single mom, working from home is a real advantage. I can be there for my daughter’s school activities when needed. I don’t have to worry about someone else looking her,” she shares.
Thanks to her job, they are living comfortably. “The rate (Rhea’s monthly wages) is way higher than when I worked as a chemist in a manufacturing company and in the academe. I was able to send my daughter to a private school, give her all her needs, and even travel out of the country together,” Rhea shares.
At 34, she was also able to secure one of the best investments — her own home. “I was able to purchase a house and lot and we’re just waiting for its turnover,” she adds.
Taking a risk especially when you're a single mom can be daunting, but Rhea says it's never too late to dream big. "I have come to trust myself and my capabilities to reach my dreams — big dreams! It's been hard for me but because I have no one to help me, especially in raising my daughter, I only had one choice: to move forward, keep my faith, and trust myself," she says.
Rhea adds, "I started with 'utang' to get me started with my technical needs. I had to, otherwise, we will starve. I always check my biggest why every day I wake up to continue what I have started. Kaya kong mag-isa, so yes, kaya ninyo rin! Just write down that biggest why for you and believe that you can chase the answers by trusting yourselves."