When I started the IDOL journey, I thought “I’ve got so many transferable skills. I’m already qualified for many of these jobs!” I dutifully created a website, crafted an ID resume, and refreshed my LinkedIn profile. I knew I faced hard work to upskill and learn about the ID field, but I had time to invest and a big IDOL goal that seemed reasonable to me. But five months later, no job offers. Not even a single interview! “What gives?” I wondered. I already identified as a quiet quitter from my day job - that’s why I became an IDOL! Was I now also quitting on my career transition?
Sometime in 2019, my long-time enthusiasm for teaching began wearing thin. Twenty years of teaching freshman composition will do that to you, I reasoned. So I jumped into innovative teaching practices in an effort to continue learning and challenge myself. Then came 2020 and the pandemic. For a while, all my attention - like most people’s - was on figuring out how to continue daily tasks in new ways. Teaching was compelling, challenging, and scary again - I loved it! In spite of the stressors of the moment, I thrived. But as the years since the pandemic emergency dragged on, the lines between work and home became blurred. Supporting my students’ mental health demanded so much of my energy, and I felt my compassion slipping away. It was all too much, so I started to quit - Quiet Quit. I was not alone.
I didn’t want to be a quitter. I have always prided myself on my work ethic and the zeal I felt each day. But this burnout robbed me of passion, and something needed to give. Over the summer break from teaching, I enrolled in IDOL courses Academy® in an effort to explore a career transition to instructional design. Again, I found that I was not alone. Many educators were considering a similar change, looking for fulfillment and respect doing work they love. Dr. Robin Sargent welcomed me right from the start in the Become an IDOL Challenge the week before the Academy. I felt comfortable navigating the technology and reinvigorated learning new skills. I applied to jobs and knew I had to be patient. When my fall semester started, my time to continue my career transition evaporated. The stress returned, now accompanied by imposter syndrome. I took a step back from my job search. “Am I quitting on myself this time?” I wondered. I felt deflated. In hindsight, I know that what I was learning is that career transition is more like a tangled clump of holiday lights than a straight line.
As I write this it’s been six weeks since I put a pause on my ID efforts. The time away has renewed my sense of empowerment and given me some clarity. Once my mind had some space to reflect, I realized a few things about the transition to ID. The insights are not new or even my own. Those with more experience like Mandy Brown, Sarah Cannistra, and Dr. Luke Hobson had already given me this advice. But not until I experienced it did I truly understand it. I will not spend time here elaborating on their messages - like the value of finding a niche, the importance of a growth mindset, and the significance of an accountability group. What I will say is that my journey into ID has been both what I expected and an endless string of surprises. The struggle, while uncomfortable, is challenging me, and I’m gearing up for a return to my efforts.
I did not quit on myself, I realized. I’m being realistic. The entirety of this experience has been career development, no matter what happens. And it’s been a valuable lesson in patient growth. Change is difficult. I’m encouraged by the messages of support from mentors and friends. Thanks to Dr. Robin Sargent, I have embraced the Do It Messy approach, and I’m further along than I was when I started IDOL. As the authors of the book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning state, “There’s an essential kind of learning that comes from reflection on personal experience” (Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel 26). Learning something new is hard work, and it requires introspection as well as upskilling. Patience is a skill worth listing on our resumes! As Jess Bird’s illustration reminds us: everyone’s growth looks different.
So for all of us on this journey: Learn from your resources. Trust in the roots of your knowledge, skills, and problem solving. You’re not a quitter - you’re just waiting for your plant to grow.
Written by: Stephanie A. Kratz
Stephanie is a learning designer who is learning to live by the wisdom of Jedi Master Yoda: “The greatest teacher, failure is.” Connect with her on LinkedIn.