A Note from Shawntay- One of my favorite things about being an Instructional Design Trainologist is meeting new professionals (both in-person and online) that are passionate about making a change. Everyone’s instructional design journey is unique! Hearing from people of different backgrounds and how they came into the instructional design field is interesting and inspiring.
So in this new series, which I’m calling “Instructional Design Journeys: Career-Changers Who Are Crushing it!”, you’ll hear from different beginning instructional designers as they share their journeys through career-changes. They’ll share some of their favorite tips and resources that helped them transform from their old career into an instructional designer!
Think back to 2015. Hamilton had swept Broadway off its feet. Season 5 of Game of Thrones made us all think that Jon Snow died at the end. NOT cool. And there was that whole blue or gold dress that divided the nation. It was blue, by the way.
For me, 2015 looked like this. I was a teacher and a single mom also working nights and weekends as a restaurant server. It was the first time I had ever felt financially stable. I had battled back from divorce to get there all on my own and I was…exhausted.
Teaching was all I had ever known. Thinking about doing anything else was very out of my comfort zone. Pretty inconceivable actually. I mean, what else was out there? A stuffy office without summers off? No impact on students, no thanks!
Something you should know about me is that I am an Enneagram 3 and 7. So I am extremely motivated by success and winning (3) and I’m also a complete squirrel (7). Teaching represented so much safety to me, and I was successful at it. I could plan any lesson, build all the materials, and deliver it while managing a classroom full of hormonal teenagers. But, like so many teachers, it had all lost its luster and I was experiencing extreme burnout.
I had also convinced myself that I couldn’t do anything else. Even though teaching wasn’t paying the bills and I had added another 30-40 hours of waitressing on top of my full-time job, I was skeptical that I had the ability to do something outside the teaching field.
I had let myself believe a lie that many of us do: teaching is all you CAN do.
Oh, it’s noble and all, but the skills are pretty limited. And if you decide to leave, you’ll have to say goodbye to all the good stuff that teaching provides. Lies. Lies, I tell you!
I also live in a small town. Away from a big city where there are more options and larger job markets. So I definitely felt stuck.
And, to be honest, Instructional Design felt made up at first. When I made the decision to start coursework for my master’s degree in ID, I kept thinking that it doesn’t seem real to have an option that had so much freedom and potential. You’re telling me I can pull in all this knowledge and practice from 10 years in the classroom and I’ll get paid more AND I could find remote work where I never have to get out of my fuzzy socks??
This feels like a trap. Like a Jon Snow death scene sort of betrayal.
All Teachers can be Instructional Designers
As I continued my coursework, I kept having revelations that ALL teachers can be IDs if they wanted to be. Teachers do this stuff every day. They analyze their audience, gather information, design and develop and deliver everything from start to finish. They evaluate learning and they do it with LOVE. IDs still get to teach, but they get to do it with flexibility, freedom, and a respectful salary. And I loved that possibility.
I couldn’t believe more people hadn’t done this. And I also couldn’t believe the only way to get there was with another degree that took at least 2 years to obtain. But I knew this was the outcome I wanted.
When I took that first ID job in 2018, I was full of nerves. Full of anxiety. Starting a new career meant that I was subject to my least favorite f-word: FAILURE. Shawntay was my first boss as an ID, by the way. She might deny it, but there was unicorn magic in that first interview–at least for me. I was dating my now-husband at the time and I remember telling him that I just wanted to be her when I grew up.
I was hired as a Training Specialist and was able to apply my new knowledge in ID while leaning pretty heavily on my experience as a teacher. There was just so much carryover. I knew what would look good, what made the most sense, and with guidance from Shawntay, I was able to do that in a new corporate setting successfully.
Instructional Design Resources for Career Changers
Here are some things that were game-changers for me:
Training from the Back of the Room by Sharon Bowman helped me apply teaching activities to a training environment focused on adult learners.
Traction by Gino Wickman helped me better understand project and goal management. Where I tend to squirrel hard, this helped me see the value of staying on track and also share that information with my organization.
From there, I was able to take on a role as a Corporate Trainer delivering leadership development training within the same organization. And what set me apart for that job was–you guessed it–my classroom experience. Classroom management, even in an adult learning atmosphere or corporate setting, can be tough for most people.
It shocked me that I was able to nearly double my teaching salary, stop moonlighting as a server, and still get to teach. And I was respected for it.
It’s like teachers have this secret superpower that they don’t even know they have.
Now, I’m back with Shawntay–the unicorn magic lives on!–working fully remote for the Instructional Design Company and I could not be happier or more fulfilled. In the 3 short years since accelerating my career, I’m reminded every day that I made the right decision.
If you’re burnt out, exhausted, and ready for a change, I can’t wait for you to see the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator 12-Week Certificate program! It really is a fast-track to the freedom and flexibility that Instructional Design can offer without getting another degree. And It would have saved me a boatload in student loans if I had had it in 2015.
If you just can’t wait for the Accelerator course to get started, check out this free masterclass I co-hosted with the Trainologist herself.
No lies or betrayal here. If this squirrel can do it, so can you!