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Masters in Info. Management- now what?

I live in Australia and have 3 years of experience in designing Web-based systems with proficiency in Macromedia, Adobe products, JavaScript, Perl and ASP. I'm looking to make a transition to ERP/SAP. I have recently completed my Masters in Information Management and Systems from Monash Univerisity, Australia and am taking a course in SAP (FI/CO/SD)/ABAP as part of the University course. I possess a good understanding of ERP and SAP but don't have the commercial experience required by companies. Any advice?
The best thing to do is to seize the opportunities that come to you. That means taking a long-term view about SAP and realizing that breaking into SAP might take place over a period of years. A good start would be for you to apply for positions at companies that are running SAP. It seems to me that with your Master's Degree and your technical background there should be some lower-level, hands-on management positions available to you out there on SAP sites. Even if your immediate role doesn't directly involve SAP, just securing a position with a company running on SAP is a great first step. From there, you can "work your way" onto the project over a longer period. It's always more effective to work your way into SAP from the inside than to target SAP positions from the outside. One major reason for that: companies are wary of hiring non-SAP folks for SAP positions because they see those kinds of applicants, rightly or wrongly, as money-motivated. This is because SAP has such a reputation for being the highest-paying IT work out there. So when you apply to companies, it's usually better to emphasize the skills you can bring to the table and the impact you can have starting on day one. Then, down the line, after you have made a positive contribution to your new employer, you are in a much better position to start the delicate process of asking them to do a few things for you. One more consideration for you is whether you want to focus more on the technical or functional side of ERP projects. True, there are some techno-functional roles out there, but for the most part, success in ERP requires either a functional or technical focus. Based on your skills to date, I'm betting that you would be more appealing to companies as a technical manager with a well-rounded business background. Of course, over time, you might be able to move more directly into functional roles. The key here is to be patient and realize you have to trade on your current skills to get where you want to go down the line. This is no longer a "gold rush" market, so success now involves hard work, patience, and a flexible but well-thought career methodology.
This was last published in February 2004

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