After 8 years in the classroom, I started my journey to transition outside of the classroom in early 2021, I was fortunate to find several great communities that were instrumental to my growth, I have written about them here and here. Now I hope to give back to other teachers who are making their transition. This post aims to advise others on what I did to get noticed, what my interview process was like, what I did in my job search, and provide any resources I have used.
First, get connected. When I was applying to positions by myself, I had no idea what I needed to reframe, adjust and focus on. Teaching: A Path to L&D opened up my eyes to the idea that I could not only make it out, but it gave me clear guidance on what I needed to adjust. I use; adjust because teachers ARE instructional designers, curriculum designers, LMS handlers, hard workers, expert multitaskers, we simply need to reframe our experience and education. Spend regular time on LinkedIn, I found TWO real job leads from LinkedIn. The one I am in now came directly from putting Instructional Designer as my tag line and being followed by someone in my area. This person then posted a job listing, I reached out, we spoke over the phone and the rest is history!
Second, research what you want to do and narrow it down. Often, I hear teachers so desperate to leave (and I was one) that they are casting their net too wide. It sounds cheesy but find something you know will bring you joy AND don’t worry about leaving mid-year, you can leave. While leaving teaching was the best thing I could do mentally and physically, I am still a teacher, and I miss my kids. Without meaningful work, we won’t make it; I still fight the urge to return to teaching even after a month in a wonderful position. Next, decide what type of company do you want to work for, do you want to work in an office? Work from home? DO you want an EdTech or Tech or Bank? With a lifelong love of technology, I set my eyes on the tech sector (although I ended up at a credit union!)
Once you decide where you want to go, you can build your roadmap. I was one year away from getting my Masters; and researched if Boise State had an ID program/certificate I could add. I contacted the Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) and they worked with me and my credits to build a plan for my final year. By summer 2022, I will have a Workplace Instructional Design certificate and a Masters in EdTech. I also signed up for Tim Slade’s Academy, and I purchased LinkedIn’s premium membership for LinkedIn Learning.
My plan was to start the clock the day I left school for the summer, and complete 3 summer online courses through Boise State, eLearning Designer’s Academy and build a fleshed-out portfolio using my previous website (I had started branding while trying to make the jump to EdTech) and build a new resume with a focus on Instructional Design. My plans changed when I ended up taking an Instructional Design position a week after school was done! In that application I was straightforward about my experience and my lack of formal experience in Instructional Design, they were impressed by my passion, the energy I had about Instructional Design, AND my learning plan.
Third, ask questions. It seems simple but I had no idea who Cara North was, she posted an article and I messaged her about Instructional Design Academies. I was so confused if I HAD to pay for one and was getting approached by “academies” that just didn’t feel right. She responded and pointed me to an amazing woman who had left the classroom a year before. She offered to mentor me and suggested Tim Slade’s academy. It was an investment, but it has really pushed me and the mentoring by Tim has been invaluable. Request resume help through the Teaching to L&D group, I was lucky enough to spend time getting ready for my interview with my current position. Heidi Kirby gave me a set of common ID interview questions that I was able to edit and type out my own answers – it was perfect after years of teaching interviews!
Fourth, stand tall and proud, you are a teacher, you can handle anything, and you are an asset to any company. Spend time adjusting your resume and cover letter, I used this Reddit post and I have had good responses so far. Get familiar with the programs, Articulate has been a lot of fun and very easy to pick up if you used PowerPoint in the classroom. The Articulate E-Learning Heroes Community has been a fantastic resource, I can look up ANYTHING I want to do in a flash, and I have learned best by jumping in.
You can do this journey for free using the resources I have provided, using YouTube etc. You do NOT need to pay for mentorship or guidance. Everything we were taught about pedagogy carries over; it may have a different term but you already know the theory. You ARE an instructional designer, customer success manager, problem solver, so put that as your title. We got this! /flex