It’s no secret that transitioning into your first role as a junior product manager can be difficult. A PM’s responsibilities can vary widely from organization to organization, which means that newly hired PMs must be diligent in assessing the scope and expectations associated with their roles.

At some companies, the boundaries between junior and senior product managers are made explicitly clear. That said, not all teams use straightforward frameworks for role definition and career progression within their product orgs. While hiring teams are sure to provide support and direction for new product managers, a great way for junior PMs to better understand their roles is to converse with others who have previously held them (or have managed teams of junior PMs in the past).

In this series, GoPractice asks seasoned product managers about the typical tasks given to junior PMs in their current or previous companies. Their insights may help aspiring candidates better understand what the role entails in different organizations.

For this piece, these experts have shared their advice:

  • Chantal Cox, Director of Product at LTK
  • Nancy Chu, Product Leadership Coach (ex-PM Manager, Meta)
  • Joni Hoadley, Product Management Coach (Ex-Principal PM, Sonos)

Thanks to Kristen Poli for crafting this piece for GoPractice.

Kristen Poli is a product leader and tech journalist.

She previously held the position of product manager at Contently and was the product management lead at Curacity.

Her articles have been published in outlets like WIRED and Hackernoon.

What tasks do junior or associate product managers (APMs) typically handle at your company?

Unlike other companies, Meta and LTK expect junior product managers to provide strategic oversight and tactical support across key areas. At Meta, associate product managers are responsible for interviewing customers, creating product briefs, and overseeing the execution of new features, in addition to other responsibilities. At LTK, junior PMs identify KPIs and create strategic documentation in addition to providing project management support for key products or feature areas. While junior PMs at both companies have considerable latitude in their roles, it’s important to note that their assignments typically involve solving well-defined customer problems or building meticulously scoped features. 

Strategic and tactical assignments 

My product managers at LTK wear different hats, but their most important job is to nail execution collaboratively. It is not just about reaching the goal and having an impact; it is about bringing the whole team along in the journey. 

Junior product managers are responsible for developing roadmaps, creating product briefs, defining their own metrics, and delivering projects while overcoming roadblocks and escalating issues when needed. These projects will typically have distinct guidelines, timelines, or goals.

Multiple tasks related to scoped problems

Associate Product Managers (APMs) are handed problems that are defined and known as well as solutions that are well understood with no (or low) ambiguity. 

Yes, they do customer interviews, market research, competitive analysis, requirements documentation, A/B testing, launch, beta programs, etc. They don’t typically work on a strategy for a problem space that is ambiguous. Some companies have well-structured programs with the right support system in place to support APMs. Meta is one of those companies. Roku, on the other hand, only hires Senior PMs (and above).

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How can junior product managers excel in their roles? What does success look like?

There are multiple avenues that a junior product manager can take to stand out in his or her role. To level up, our experts recommend gathering exposure to adjacent product teams and/or departments in order to build partnerships, increase visibility, and identify new and innovative opportunities for development. Junior PMs who volunteer their time and effort across teams have the potential to fast-track their growth and development. Similarly, early career product managers who are committed to understanding their users thoroughly–through interviews, data analysis, A/B tests, and more–will have a clear advantage.

Spearheading cross-team collaboration

A product manager on my team went above and beyond and volunteered to cover part of the execution for another team’s part of the roadmap. This gave him visibility on other projects and helped him identify new win-win opportunities. His team and that other team are now going to be co-building a feature in partnership this quarter that will be really impactful.

Taking a customer-focused approach

A Junior PM on my team at Meta diligently conducted user interviews and synthesized insights that led to a deeper understanding of a key user problem. This insight helped pivot a feature’s development, aligning it more closely with user needs. They recognized the importance of teamwork, built strong relationships with the engineering and design teams, effectively communicated user stories and product requirements, and ensured everyone was aligned and moving towards a common goal. 

They also proposed an A/B test for a new feature based on user feedback. The results of the test provided clear data that helped make an informed decision, which ultimately improved user engagement.

What separates junior product managers from senior product managers? 

While junior product managers are expected to execute a variety of tasks, they are less involved in establishing a mission and vision for a new product. Senior product managers and product leaders are responsible for developing high-level product strategies and ensuring that these strategies support a company’s topline goals. By developing individual skills under the advisement of senior team members, junior product managers can chart a path toward advancement.

Spearheading cross-team collaboration

Think of a product manager’s journey as a voyage from being a crew member to becoming the captain of a ship. A junior product manager, like a novice sailor, is learning the ropes, focusing on mastering basic navigation skills, and often follows the course set by more experienced sailors. 

In contrast, a senior product manager is like the ship’s captain, not only skilled in navigation but also responsible for charting the ship’s course, making strategic decisions, and guiding the entire crew through rough waters. While the junior is mastering individual tasks, the senior is overseeing the entire expedition, ensuring that every part of the journey aligns with the ultimate destination – the product’s success.


Not every company is intentional about setting boundaries between junior and senior roles in product organizations. However, top companies can offer early career PMs well-defined professional goals and the hands-on support they need to achieve them. At LTK and Meta, junior product managers have the ability to make a real impact in their roles, and are responsible for strategic and tactical aspects of feature planning and development. To take their careers to the next level and secure more ambitious, independent assignments, junior product managers can dedicate themselves to uncovering new customer insights and forging strong relationships with internal teams and stakeholders.

Learn more

This article is part of a series on junior product management roles. To learn more about APM roles and responsibilities at Google and Thomson Reuters, check out this article.

Illustration by Anna Golde for GoPractice