What is the biggest difference between a small and a big project from PM perspective? In short: there’s less typical projects management job. Schedules are smaller, stakeholders are easier to manage, requirements are limited, complexity isn’t anywhere close to a number one issue, control and supervision are less time consuming etc. Basically a project manager should have more time.
On the other hand problems which have to be resolved are similar. Changing business requirements, poor estimates, slips, lack of stakeholder engagement, changing priorities, you name it.
You could say that PM does everything they’d do in a big project but doses are smaller. This means they have more time to spend on… on what? If they’re not a kind which will use all available time for surfing through the internet to learn which celebrity sleeps with whom they’ll probably take the effort of making several steps deeper into the project. They’ll learn more technical details and analyze business features better. They’ll do by themselves some work typically assigned to different subject matter experts. Maybe testing, maybe documentation or maybe analysis. Either way they’ll learn more about the project than they’d do if it was a big complex beast which draws all the PM’s attention just to keep it on the track.
This is exactly why a small project is a great lesson. If you learn more about the project you can analyze better what was done well and what went wrong. You’re able to verify more things by yourself, no matter whether you talk about project, project team actions or your performance. You also have less external constraints which you have to align with so there’s more freedom when it comes to decision making.
You just won’t do much experimenting in this huge super-duper project a company has won last month. But you definitely would think about it in that small 6-week project you’re going to do with just a few people.