Leaving the Classroom 32: A Day in the Life of a Corporate Instructional Designer with Amanda Kulik

Dec 04, 2023

Leaving the Classroom: A Transitioning Teacher Podcast

Leaving the Classroom 32: A Day in the Life of a Corporate Instructional Designer with Amanda Kulik

In this episode, Kristi Oliva interviews Amanda Kulik about her experience transitioning from teaching to becoming a corporate instructional designer. Amanda details her journey from getting her master's degree to finding IDOL courses Academy to landing her first instructional design job.

Tune in to find out:

- Her journey from getting her master's degree and teaching for 15 years to discovering IDOL courses Academy and landing her first instructional design job within a few months of completing the program.

- The differences between her contract role and full-time corporate roles, including benefits, team structure, and ability to see projects through.

- The skills she uses from teaching like communication, organization, and writing that have translated well to her current role as an instructional designer.

Listen to the episode here:

Connect with Kristi on LinkedIn 

Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn

This podcast is sponsored by IDOL Courses and is the only authorized vocational school and implementation program of its kind that not only shows you exactly how to create your job application assets and build a portfolio from scratch, but also includes credentials, mentorship, expert coaching, and paid experience opportunities in corporate instructional design and online learning for life! Learn more about the program here.

 

Enjoy the podcast transcription:

Kristi Oliva 

Welcome to leaving the classroom. This is a podcast for teachers who are ready to transition out of the classroom and into a new career. Each week I'll share stories about what I've learned moving from education to the corporate world. I'll answer the most common questions and share my best tips to help you get started. If you are considering leaving the classroom, this show is for you. 

Kristi Oliva

Hello, everyone. Welcome to leaving the classroom. I'm Kristi Oliva. I'm so glad you're here today. And today's topic is a day in the life of a corporate instructional designer. And I have here today, a corporate instructional designer, Amanda Kulik, member of IDOL courses Academy and a corporate instructional designer. Welcome, Amanda.

Amanda Kulik

Hey, Kristi, I'm excited to be here.

Kristi Oliva

Oh, I'm so glad you're here. Thanks for joining us. I'm really excited to hear about your experience. So let's start there. Why don't you just give us the rundown of how you joined IDOL, how you found IDOL, how long it took you to get a job give us all the dirt.

Amanda Kulik

Awesome. All right. Well, I was a elementary school teacher for about 15 years. And I knew I wanted to move out of that role. So I got my master's degree in learning and technology in the summer of 2020. During that COVID summer, and I didn't learn quite enough about instructional design in that program. So I found out about IDOL through another person that was in my program. I forget exactly where she found out about it but she kind of passed it on to me. And then I started listening to the podcast and kind of fell in love with what I was hearing on there. So I ended up joining in January of 2021. So it's been a little over two years, I was able to get through all the material in IDOL. And from like that January until May ish. And then I was given my first job in May. And I stayed in my teaching position until the end of the school year. And then I started my first instructional design position, June 1st of 2021. My work, it was a corporate role at that point. I worked in that role for about seven or eight months and then my boss who I really loved left, and then my next boss didn't quite have the same vision as myself or my previous boss. So I was recruited out of that position to take on a contract for a major company in my area. And I was going to get paid quite a bit more, I was going to be able to put a lot into savings. So that really got me excited. So I decided to try the contract world. And I did that for about a year and three or so months. And then I knew I wanted to leave the contract world, it wasn't quite for me anymore. And I was moved into a project with a leader that wasn't right up to my standards. So I decided to allow myself to look for a new role. I knew I wanted to go back to full time again. So I had actually my first boss and my first job I was still friends with and she put me in contact with someone that she knew who was hiring for a company that she used to work for, and she was still friends with them. So that's how I got to my current position as a senior instructional designer at my new company that I've been at now for actually five weeks tomorrow. I'm loving my newest position.

Kristi Oliva 

Well look at you networking to move on up, that's so valuable.

Amanda Kulik 

How I got all three of my jobs. Networking again, LinkedIn. So.

Kristi Oliva 

So, I want to go back to when you said you got your master's first because I had a similar journey. I thought I had to get a master's. And so I really want to give your perspective because I know what my answer is. But how much of the master's degree do you use? As opposed to how much of what you learned in IDOL do you use?

Amanda Kulik  

I use zero of what I learned that my master's degree because it was trying to... I think it was called like learning and technology and I asked like, will this help me leave the classroom? And they were like, oh, yeah, oh yes. And yeah, no, oh, no, it was all about teaching for the most part, I thought still, like it was still teaching towards that. And I got an overview of like, instructional design theory, I guess. So it kind of gave me some ideas of what instructional design was to help me know that is what I wanted to do. But I don't think I even remember what I learned in there. Whereas everything I learned in IDOL is what I use now. So...

Kristi Oliva

Yeah, so Okay, tell us more about this contract role. You said at one point that it wasn't what you really wanted to do anymore. And then you said you moved to full time. So let's clear this up though. Were you working full time in the contract role because I think Some people get confused about like, with the full time employee versus the contract, you still had full time hours, right?

Amanda Kulik

Correct. I still worked 40 hours a week. But I did not have any PTO. So all holidays, I didn't get paid unless I worked the holidays. I went on vacation and didn't get any pay for that whole vacation I went on. I mean, they allowed you to do those things. They allowed you to go on vacation, but I didn't get paid. My health insurance was pretty poor. I got it through the recruiting agency, not through the company that I worked for. So I had super high monthly premiums on my insurance. And I felt like, even though I was making a lot of money, I lost a lot of money because of my insurance. And yeah, and no, no PTO.

Kristi Oliva

So it can... I mean, it can look like a good situation from the outside but you have to find her in these other parts, Okay. And so then when you got back into corporate, can you tell us more about like what your typical day looks like and maybe even compare that to your contract role? Like, what's different about those two things? Because I know there's a big difference. But can you maybe put that into words for us?

Kristi Oliva

Because you're kind of like an outsider in that contract role. I remember, like, when I was contracted at Google, like, even though I was in on certain things, there was a lot of stuff that you know, we weren't clued in on and it was a very outsider mentality, not like they were leaving us out. Like, you can't know this but it's just the way it works. You know, they're not going to tell you their insider secrets, they're not going to include you on those inside talks. And so and the other drawback I found, which I want you to tell me more about if you saw this, too, is I didn't get to see the results of what I was doing. Like I was putting out a lot of stuff. But I never got to see... I never got to put hard numbers with it of like how did I make change?

Amanda Kulik

Oh, for sure. So another thing I wish I had that I did not have in contract was like a team. I did have a couple other contractors that I worked with. But it wasn't a team like situation. And I really wanted that. So in my corporate role, I have a seven person team. And I'm the only instructional designer however, we have facilitators, we have people who are in charge of like leadership development. So even though I only have that title, like we all work together, and we all work on courses together. And we all do those kinds of things together. So I really wanted that. And so my... I do so many meetings now, which is insane to me. Like when I started this job, I was like, how many meetings do we have? I feel like I spent half my day on meetings. And in my contract role I had like a one on one with my boss every week. And I had... like when I got that small team with me a contractors, we would have one meeting a week. So I think I had two meetings a week. And that was it.

Amanda Kulik

Yep, 100% true. And that's what I said in my interview for my new job was, I wanted to see a project go from start to finish, because I had never seen that. Like even in my first corporate role, because I wasn't there long enough to really see it go. And a lot of things changed whenever I got my new boss. So I've never seen that and my job when I was on the contract was a lot of like updating previous curriculum because it hadn't been updated in 10 or 15 years. And so they already had what they wanted to use, basically. So I was just updating it. And it was written by... it was a an electric company. So it was written by electrical workers who like thing about it. So I was just turning it into, readable material, and I rewrote all the assessments so that they were understandable by the students and stuff.

Kristi Oliva

So are you saying now that you have a lot of meetings? But can you tell us more about maybe like the design tools you're using, what kinds of things that you learned in IDOL are you doing each day?

Amanda Kulik

So I've actually... so far I've actually done one project that they needed done pretty quickly. So it was in Storyline I was given the script and the screenshots because they wanted it done pretty fast and I was new. And so they're like, Here, take this. So I created a... I probably would have made it in Camtasia personally if it was me because it was one of those like explainer videos on like, how to use the software, but they wanted me to do it in Storyline. And I'd only been there two weeks and I was like sure whatever you want me to do. So I did that project. And then another division asked us to like make a... they wanted some ideas on how to create assessments that could be... the data could be determined on different levels like by question, by like person who took it, by like the department they were in. So I was... I researched like different ways to make assessments and I presented that I thought Microsoft forms was the best way to do it because I should I got to show like, this is why this is all the different data you can gather and all these things. So that was a second project I've done. They're just trying to get my feet wet because I've only been there five weeks. So I haven't...

Kristi Oliva

I think that's a great example though, because I think we forget as former teachers, that if we had brought like an example like that of like, here I propose we use this as a teacher. 

Amanda Kulik

Yeah, no.

Kristi Oliva

It's not gonna work is it? And now we have this freedom to be like, Hey, I think this is best and here's why. And most of the time, you're going to be told yes. You know?

Amanda Kulik

Yeah, my boss was like, I was so impressed by your presentation on why Google or why Microsoft forms was the best tool and they soaked it right up. And they thought I was like, Okay...

Kristi Oliva

I think this is what teachers need to hear. Like, we have a lot of good ideas as teachers, and we see around a lot of corners that may be corporate doesn't see. And we have a lot of creative thinking. And the good news is that your ideas don't get just shot. Yeah, like in the classrooom.

Amanda Kulik

Not at all.

Kristi Oliva

Yeah, yeah, totally.

Amanda Kulik

Like within five weeks I've been there I already feel like they want my opinion. Like, they're like, We really wanna make a Storyline template. Here, we want your... what's your opinion? Like? What would you... how would you do this? And already in five weeks, they already know I know what I'm talking about.

Kristi Oliva

That's so great. That's so great. So if this sounds good to somebody, and they want to be able to find a job like the one you have, where should they look? Like, where did you go job searching?

Amanda Kulik

Oh, 100%, LinkedIn, like, which I didn't know existed when I was a teacher, I had no clue. So like, Thank you IDOL. And like, people always say to me, like, Wow, your LinkedIn profile looks so good. I was like, well, I copied the template in IDOL. I never would have known how to do that. LinkedIn has been a game changer. Like I literally got my first job, by messaging the person who posted the job. And I was just like, introduce myself and started talking to them. And we both lived in the same area, the job was for the same, you know, so that's just how that kind of worked. And then the contractor, or the contracting position, they reached out to me on LinkedIn, because they saw my portfolio, and they thought it was...

Kristi Oliva

Once you get that first job, I tell everybody, once you get your foot in the door, that we're going to be knocking it down constantly to try to get you to leave your current job and go to the next. 

Amanda Kulik

Yeah, my mom is like, you've had three jobs in like these two years, and I'm like, I know, like, it's kind of crazy to think. But I think I'm where I'm supposed to be now. Like, it just took like, two years, three jobs to figure that out. But now I know, this is where I'm going to say.

Kristi Oliva

Well, yeah, there's nothing wrong with that. I mean, you have to look out for yourself. And that's something I remember, as a teacher being so hesitant to do because of all the guilt you're given as a teacher to like, stay for the kids and finish out the year. What are we going to do without you? And it's like, they've moved on without you. They moved on without me. And it's the same in corporate but you just... and it's not like we're hardening ourselves, it's more just like we see reality more than we did as a teacher is how I see it. So as a former teacher, what would you say are like the top three skills that you use as an instructional designer, in corporate that just like, lifted and shifted, you were just like, Yep, I, that was my teacher skill ready to go. 

Amanda Kulik

For sure communication, because as a teacher, you communicate with all levels of people, like from your students, to your parents that you work with, and then the administration. So I feel like that just makes that piece pretty simple, because you communicate with a lot of people all day long, especially in corporate, and also like organization. In this job that I'm in now, like, I already have, like all these tasks that I have to do. And like every day, they're like, oh, and add this to your list. So I like... you have to be able to organize your tasks, you have to know when the due dates are. And I feel like as a teacher, like you always had due dates and tasks and like to do lists and calendars and everything. So that was pretty easy to learn how to manage it. And for me, it's really been my writing skills. And I don't know if that was necessarily a teacher skill, but people always come to me and they're like, will you read this, like, you're really good at grammar, like you're really good at writing concise things like my assessment writing and things like that. Because as a teacher, you couldn't put out bad products like you had to put out well written things like emails and tests and things like that. So...

Kristi Oliva

Those are good ones. And those are... I mean, what that shows is that all you have to do is join IDOL, learn about the tech, you already have these baseline things that they need in corporate for you to have. And then you just learned the tech and you're good to go. 

Amanda Kulik

I agree. 

Kristi Oliva 

Awesome. Well, what's the best way to get in touch with you if people want to contact you and find out more about your journey or find out more about your company? You never know they might be adding a new ID to your team pretty soon. 

Amanda Kulik

Actually today. She was like my boss's boss was like you know what? Now, in the next year or so we really want to add another ID to the team because right now we're getting a lot of projects and I was like Oh, cool.

Kristi Oliva

Perfect. How can they find you then? They're gonna be knocking on your door. 

Amanda Kulik

Definitely on LinkedIn. I think I'm just Amanda like you know the LinkedIn thing. And Amanda Kulik, has like the... I didn't make anything fancy or anything. 

Kristi Oliva

They can just search you right? If they search your name, there's... I'm sure there's not many people with that last name. Awesome. Well, I'm so happy you joined us... this a nice perspective on what it looks like once you get into the field. You haven't been there long, but you're already a seasoned pro. So it's really nice to see how quickly that happens. So thank you so much for joining us.

Amanda Kulik

Thanks, Kristi. It was a great time and I'm glad I could be a guest.

Kristi Oliva

Awesome. Do you want to leave the classroom and become an instructional designer, a senior instructional designer like Amanda? Well at IDOL courses Academy we help you build your professional portfolio, revise your resume, prepare for interviews and give you valuable feedback on what you design. Sign up for IDOL courses Academy using my code classroom100 And get $100 off enrollment. It's time to take control and make the career change that will change your life. It changed mine. See you next time. 

Kristi Oliva  15:58

That's all for this episode, but you can find more at idolcourses.com or subscribe to the podcast. And if you are ready to leave the classroom, use my code classroom100 And get $100 off enrollment to IDOL courses Academy.

Send your stories or your questions to [email protected] or share them with me on Instagram  @leavingtheclassroom.

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