Growing up, I wanted to have an impact on the world - to forge connections among us. I’ve traveled many roads in search of the avenue that suited me. I dreamed of the stage - of having a platform of my own. I admired entertainers, social-justice-minded-ministers, and teachers. Ministry was quite a platform, so I applied to Seminary. I sought a stage when I pursued Hollywood both through comedy and radio. I became a Certified Drug & Alcohol counselor, and I even wrote a book. None of these scratched every itch I had.
At thirty-three years old I earned a California Adult Teaching credential and began teaching addiction and recovery classes to inmates in the county jail. I brought trauma healing circles to state prisons, and I felt I’d found my calling! I loved teaching and facilitating groups. I loved working with people whose lives were troubled, and walking with them as they found the light. I taught for eight years before our school lost its contract with the county. Would I ever teach again?
I sought work at Adult Schools through EdJoin and learned that a full-time Adult Ed job was an anomaly. Funding for these schools provided primarily part-time work with no benefits. What’s more, when teaching adults, classes are held after their day jobs, so teachers work weeknights and weekends. The few full-time, weekday-shift positions that did exist were held by staff that knew their value, and they weren’t leaving.
I moved toward health and human services. I was hired as a case manager, but I always solicited my graphic design and adult teaching skills. I wanted to help educate staff within the organization - or community members. Occasionally I was invited to make a flyer for an event, but rarely was I taken seriously about training. I had a heart for teaching, but I couldn’t find a place to put it. Ultimately I gave up, exhausted.
I returned to working in graphic design - I found a mind-numbing job creating print ads for a catalog. I’d been there a year when COVID hit and I was laid off. Unemployed again, I decided to go back to school at WGU. The first I’d heard of Instructional Design was talking to a college career counselor as I contemplated degrees. Once in the program, I was blown away that this field existed, and how much my life experience could lend to it! But in graduate school, everything was theory and there was little to no application in the actual development of courses. I wanted more hands-on experience to go with the degree I was working toward. That’s when I found Dr. Robin and IDOL courses Academy on the internet - it all just floated into my life somehow. I don’t remember how or where, but I was ravenous for what they offered. I watched videos, joined her free week overview of ID, I listened to Become an IDOL podcast, and ultimately decided to join the Academy. It was time to invest in myself and that was it. The rest is history.
What I have found here is unlike anything I could have imagined. Inside IDOL Courses Academy I’ve developed skill sets, passion, and community… I found the confidence to take a sharp turn on my path, forever changing the trajectory of my career. I wanted to work with adult learners but couldn’t find work. Now there are no limits to where I can work - either in industry or location.
Today I work remotely as a Learning and Development Specialist for an organization that serves the alcoholic and addicted population - people dear to my heart. My job is to develop a learning culture for the staff across seven sites in three counties. The learning curve is steep as I take over administration of the company’s LMS, but my new boss is pleased with what I bring to the table. What she doesn’t know is that I have the IDOL Academy in my back pocket. Anytime I have a question, a doubt, or a project I need help with, I know where to go. I couldn’t have seen it coming. I have found a career where all of me fits and I can do anything I want with my new skill set. The world abounds with lifelong learners. As an IDOL, I still want to make an impact. I still want to use my skills to help others grow. What will you do with yours?
Jen is a talented instructional designer who has been able to meld her passion for helping people overcoming addiction, teaching, and graphic design to fill her life with purpose. She gives back to the IDOL courses Academy community by mentoring and helping others meet their IDOL goals.
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