Am I Doing This Right?: IDOL Lessons Learned

 Hindsight is 20/20. Coincidentally 2020, is the year I decided to pivot and fully immerse myself into a career transition in instructional design. I joined IDOL Academy in September 2020. This wasn’t my first trip down the “what else can I possibly do with my career experience and education background” road. Years ago, I started an expensive certification course, which I enjoyed, but I had an opportunity to join a new school, develop a new program, and get paid more so I had to put that on hold. The new opportunity also brought out the same issues I’ve had with my career that made me want to jump ship the first time: burnout, limited career growth, feeling undervalued, and siloed in my classroom. Why did I do this? 

Starting IDOL courses Academy was the best decision I made to start my career transition journey. But it has not been the most of smooth ride for me. Working full time, parenting full time, and squeezing in the IDOL coursework is not easy. I kept asking myself: Am I doing this right? Maybe you’re asking yourself the same thing. Here are some lessons I learned:

Be friendly!

I was a lurker. I watched what everyone was doing and felt that I wasn’t doing enough. The feeling of “I don’t know what I could possibly add to this conversation” was overwhelming to the point that it kept me from engaging right away. Don’t be me! Find yourself an accountability group, get to those mentoring hours (when you can), and let people know that you are rooting for their success. Attending the office hours with mentors was by far the best thing I could’ve done. Through that, I met and made good friends, connected with an awesome mentor/friend, and truly began understanding how to navigate the expanse of instructional design knowledge laid out in front of me. The Facebook community and accountability group is the safe space to fail and learn. So be friendly!


Be patient!

Do you feel like you are “behind”? Do you ask yourself questions like “how are they already done with that project!?” or “how is their portfolio already done!?” or “how is their LinkedIn profile done already!?” I’m here to tell you to stop asking yourself those questions because I already did that for you. We are all on our own schedules, our own journey’s and have our own goals. Find your happy place, figure out what’s most important to you and develop that MVP (minimal viable product) that you will continue to work on. I’m not an expert at this, but I did let go of some unrealistic expectations and set my own pace. In the end, I have a portfolio that’s not perfect, a work in progress resume, a LinkedIn that’s always changing, and a wealth of knowledge in my back pocket. Be kind to yourself. Be patient.


Be curious!

Ask questions. I mean a lot of questions. The thing is, so many of us have the same questions about this process. Others have been there, done that, and are willing to help you navigate these waters and avoid pitfalls. Just look at the insightful workshops and blog posts that are created by the alum! Questioning how to create a portfolio? Look at Ashanti Henderson’s post on what she learned from building her portfolio or Santana Kennedy’s journey on how she created hers in 45 days. I also recommend joining Slack groups outside of IDOL such as Devlin Peck’s which has the nicest people all ready to share and answer questions. You’ll never know EVERYTHING but you’ll be in good company.


Be generous!

Found a shortcut in Storyline? Share it! Found a site that has great icons for free? Share it! Someone has asked for feedback on their project? Share it! If I have learned anything over the last six months, it’s that the people that are successful in this space are the same ones that are generous with their resources, time, advice, tips, and tricks. Just look at Dr. Sargent, Christy Tucker, and our very own mentors. Social learning is what drives this industry to be cutting edge. I offer whatever resources I can in the Facebook and LinkedIn groups that may help others. I provide feedback to projects and portfolios when asked and if I have time. You will gain insight, and it will make you feel good. Give back!


Be focused!

If you have found your IDOL buddy or mentor, set up some goals right now! Daily, weekly, monthly goals will keep you on track to achieve your career transition. I have always set personal and professional goals for myself. But working with Kristi Oliva on a weekly basis helped keep me grounded and heading in the right direction. My buddy Robin Rivers keeps me sane when I feel like I can’t get it done. I’m so glad that Dr. Robin Sargent encourages people to create a vision board and share it with others. There is something to be said about setting goals and sharing them with people that will help you along the way. Get focused!


Be brave!

You are on the right path. It’s your journey. So ask yourself, how bad do you want it? Don’t wait for your storyboard or eLearning to be “perfect” before putting it on your portfolio. Just do it! Share your drafts and be ready for feedback that will make it better. Get out there on LinkedIn, make connections, apply for that job (even if you don’t feel ready), and join groups. You will feel inspired to keep going. 


You belong here! When that doubt kicks in or you feel like you’re sinking, send your accountability group, your friends, your mentor, or me a message. You’re doing this right!

Don’t believe me? Read these posts from IDOLs that will keep you going:


Do You Feel Like an Imposter? You’re in Good Company: Kristi Oliva 

Kick Self-Doubt to the Curb: Mindset Needed to become an Instructional Designer & Online Learning Developer: Tabatha Dragonberry

Samiya is an emerging instructional designer and developer. She is an alum of IDOL Courses Academy, 5th Cohort. Passionate about learning and technology in the pursuit of helping others achieve their potential.

Connect with Samiya on LinkedIn where she tries to be less of a lurker. Take a look at her portfolio.


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