Merrill B. Lamont III
How to Get a Scrum Master Job Without Experience
You fell in love with Scrum / Agile for a reason. Clearly. Identify. That. Then find opportunities in your life (work, hobbies, family, ...) to start practicing pieces of the Scrum framework, and to embody the Agile mindset.
There. That paragraph up there. That's the answer.
The paragraphs below share a hopefully relatable story - my story. I know... it's not your story, but that 'cause I don't know you. But you know you. And you know what nudged you towards getting that certification. You know the areas of your life that could benefit from a little Scrum love. Thus, you know your next steps. You know. So you can stop reading now. I mean, the rest of this article may help you connect the dots, and may resonate with your journey, and may show you that you are not alone, but if you want to stop reading now and start acting out that first paragraph above, then go get 'em. If you want a kick of inspiration, then keep reading.
When I got my Scrum Master certification (the CSM), I was manually testing medical devices. Can you imagine a German medical device company adopting Scrum? It's possible! (And in 2008, it was messy!) Barely two years out of grad school, yet inspired by all this newly-learned Agility, motivated by how this naturally aligns with a natural set of talents I felt I had, and activities I naturally gravitated towards, naturally, I then applied for an internal Scrum Master position. Naturally.
The hiring manager said that I could talk the talk, but I couldn't walk the walk, and she politely informed me: I need more experience.
Well then... where the heck would I get it?
Many interviews and matching rejections later, I'd look at the man in the mirror and wonder if he'd ever make that career change. And if he'd ever blog about himself in the third person. And write grammatically incorrect sentences. (Check. Check. And Check.)
In a flash of creativity, or likely desperation, that man in the mirror could become the team to benefit from a Scrum Master.
I fell in love with Scrum upon learning the power of those actionable items of improvements that come from the Retrospective.
I married Scrum upon seeing how it was good for me in managing all the things I wanted to do (here's that opportunity from the top paragraph), while acknowledging I can only 'deliver' so much, and embracing life as it came.
I blogged about this adventure (ScrumOfOne.com), publicly iterating, embodying the Agile mindset.
Then came an opportunity at work. A messy one: the Scrum Master position on my team opened up, and was split between 3 people:
the line manager
the former Scrum Master who just took a Program Manager position
the eager beaver manual tester with the certification (me)
So what did it mean to be one-third of a Scrum Master?
If there were any testing activities to be done, then those were where my allegiances lied.
I waved the Scrum flag wherever I could, promoting Agile values wherever I could.
I ran the stand-up.
On July 21st, 2014, a Monday, I high-fived the man in the mirror and started my first full-time Scrum Master gig at a start-up, who was convinced I could both talk the talk and walk the walk, yet considered me a junior Scrum Master. I didn't care. I took it. I loved it. And that was:
1 year after becoming a one-third Scrum Master
3 years after starting the blog
4 years after getting the certification
6 years (exactly) after starting my first job, manually testing medical devices
As life would have it, I ran into that first hiring manager last year. I shook her hand. I had experience now. And that's because I made more experience.
Make your own experience.
Remember why you fell in love with Scrum. Find opportunities in your life. Start injecting your Agility.
Make your own experience.
You know your next steps. So take them. Naturally.