In this podcast episode, I'm chatting with Meg Ramey. Meg is an IDOL Academy member, she is the owner of WorldKind and she is also a leader of one of our IDOL World projects. IDOL World is a volunteer section of our academy to place instructional designers with nonprofit and volunteer opportunities. Tune in to hear about the importance of real world experience and the things that make a good volunteer.
Listen to this episode below:
Connect with Meg: LinkedIn
Enjoy the Episode Transcript below:
Robin Sargent I have here with me today, Meg Ramey and Meg Ramey is many different things. But first of all, I must mention that she is an idol Academy member, she is the owner of world kind. And she is also a leader of one of our idol world projects, which is a volunteer section of our academy to place instructional designers with nonprofit and volunteer opportunities. So man, well, you just do a better job of introducing yourself.
Meg Ramey Oh, hi, Robin, thanks so much for having me on. First of all, huge fan of idle, it has been a game changer for me and for our company, especially as you mentioned, idle world being able to have these wonderful interns that have helped us create some of the many, many beyond videos that we've been making. In a nutshell, what we've been creating is a online training program for students who are studying abroad for the first time that we're already using at several different universities. And we're onboarding some more this summer. I can tell you more about that later. But seriously, we have had idle interns for the last two years, and they have been stellar helping us create these videos and these genealogies that will help students who are studying abroad for the first time just opening up the world to them.
Robin Sargent We have to go back and we have to find out like, what's your background? How did you get interested in instructional design? Because we I know that your background is different from where you are now. And so can you just share a little bit of your background and your history and how you found IDOL?
Meg Ramey Yeah, so not everyone probably knows. But I know you were a Religious Studies major and undergrad, which is kind of something we have in common. Actually, I was a Spanish major and undergrad. But then my masters and PhD were both in that area. And so I was actually a professor for eight years prior to transitioning into instructional design. And I taught things from cross cultural courses to ancient Greek to biblical studies, I took students to Turkey, Greece, lots of different places where they would learn about the culture, but also the ancient history. And I think one of probably the themes of my life has been both just wanting to learn about different cultures, about different beliefs, how people make meaning, and how people create stories. And so I loved helping students just open up the world of a book or the world of a new country and culture to them. And so I transitioned from teaching first into international education and became the director of education abroad for a small company based out of Turkey, and then COVID hit. So it kind of killed travel, nobody was going anywhere for a while. And honestly, I had this crazy idea. I thought, You know what, why don't I start my own company, because that seems like a brilliant idea. And at the same time, I joined IDOL, and I started studying instructional design, because we were a company that was taking students abroad, and also taking private organizations abroad to we've done both. And I wanted to train the people before I took them abroad. So it was purely self serving at first, this program that we started creating, because we needed to train our own students and clients. But then it just kind of branched out from there, because I realized that there was a lot of application for this program, because during COVID, so many universities cleared house, they fired a lot of their education abroad, directors let a lot of people go because again, nobody was traveling. But then the duty of care rose exponentially to keep students safe when they're traveling in the middle of the pandemic, because they started doing the programs again. So this is an awful place to be where you just lost a lot of staff, but your duty of care rose exponentially. And we saw this gap as a place where we could come in and meet a need and start helping those departments train their students online, using a lot of the best principles of instructional design that we learned at idle Academy. So that in a nutshell, is some of my background. It is varied and different. Yeah.
Robin Sargent It's just a wild that we share that. Yeah, I actually have a bachelor's and a master's in biblical and theological studies. And my favorite thing to tell people is that I was president of the Greek club, and that wasn't because I was in a sorority, it's because I was president of language, where we literally interpreted and translated coin a and classical Greek so we share with an interesting and very nerdy background.
Meg Ramey Teach that club in Greek, I would have loved you as a student.
Robin Sargent And so I mean, I mean, I don't even know how that is such a connection, it's over. I think that you summed it up. Well, and then when he talked about how you're interested in how we make meaning, and how we formulate stories, and I think so much of that is inherently connected to learning and teaching. And so I make, you know, we kind of put it that way, learning is making meaning for ourselves, and, and we learn best through stories and things like that. So the connection is there, right? It's this kind of seeds.
Meg Ramey You know, 100%. And that is something that we use every day and those Vyonds that we're creating, and we're making interactive videos where students go through scenarios before they actually get on the ground. But it's a story, you know, we have a main character, her name is Leila, and she has about 10. Other people she travels with, they all have backgrounds, personalities that we created for them, problems, issues. And so it is just this one long story of what these characters are going through so that we're simulating some of the experiences that students will have. So hopefully, they make good choices when they go abroad. And yeah, as one of my clients said, our provost loves this program from a liability perspective. So that's one of the things we're also trying to help.
Robin Sargent Yeah, and I'm sure anybody who's gone abroad, especially like blue new, or like college can tell some pretty wild stories. I mean, I won't share mine. But I have a few. I probably could use a little reminder about safety in other.
Meg Ramey Well, yes, because as you probably know, for whatever reason, lots of times when people go abroad, they leave themselves behind and decide to be a slightly different person may be a bit more open to lots of different things, and not always in the best way. So they don't always make the best choices, because they've just left themselves. You know, it's kind of like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but this time in Rome, or Paris or somewhere else. So we're just trying to help them be better prepared to you know, you don't have to leave your entire self behind, you know, especially that, you know, frontal lobe that is going to help you make some good decisions.
Robin Sargent So, here we are. So you joined IDOL in 2020. And you started your business at the same time. Is that right?
Meg Ramey So I started, I filed for the LLC in 2020. And actually, I started IDOL in January of 2021. So it's right at almost the same time, because at first we started out just doing the educational travel porcelain, and then we moved into instructional design from there.
Robin Sargent And so you started taking on, tell me about when you started taking on volunteers and kind of what that experience has been. And then we started at a world project, I think later afterwards, and then you were then we were able to, you know, put a more formalized process around it. But just want to know more about how all that worked out for you.
Meg Ramey Right. So I started IDOL in January. And I think we took the first volunteers that next summer, you know, after I had been through a couple of different cohorts and lots of the courses myself. So yeah, one of the things that we try to do, and we have volunteers first, you know, we have some kind of informal interview where we talk about their goals and our goals. And we want to make sure that it is a mutually beneficial experience for both people that they're going to be able to make some assets that they can use in their portfolios, hopefully helping them get a job. That's one of the ultimate goals, but also that they're going to create something that's going to be helpful for our students. So we kind of scaffold we start out with maybe a simple job aid and that might be the first project that they work on and then we move on from there then it might be a VR video or an interactive genially sometimes they do a little bit of research. And sometimes it is mainly just development. So it all depends, but that's kind of how we have the program structured.
Robin Sargent How many people have actually landed jobs coming out of your internships. Have you kept track at all?
Meg Ramey I should know exactly. I can think about the people and think about the jobs. Can I get back to you on that number, but I can think about a lot of them and where they landed. So I don't know one of the greatest prices success stories is Michelle McCoy just finished an internship with us and she was already fabulous with design, you know, being an art teacher. And she made these amazing Vyond videos, some of the best that I've ever seen. And probably I think it was just a couple of weeks after she ended the internship. Those are on our portfolio along with the other many things she created. And she landed her dream job and is doing great. So a lot of them have but I'd have to go back and count the numbers to see.
Robin Sargent Yeah, and I think that's what just points to like the importance for someone making a career career transition to get real world experience. And that's really what you're offering to these interns, right? Because then they can get into the interviews. And they can say, Tell me about a time when you've gone through the entire instructional design process. And a lot of times, it's hard for them to get that without having experience and this internship opportunity allows them to do that, right?
Meg Ramey Yeah, now they have that star that they can use, they can talk about that situation with WorldKind and the task we gave them and the actions and the results. So they have real world experience, one of the other things that we do is sometimes you just need to have something to refer to, on the web, you know, that gives you some legitimacy. And so we, when they finished doing the internship, we always put them up on our website, if they give us their picture, their bio, we link to their portfolio, we linked to their LinkedIn profile, because a we want to give people credit for the great work that they've been doing, but also help with legitimacy. So they can see yes, they were an ID, they did this project at WorldKind, they are on a public company's website.
Robin Sargent So I bet there's a lot of people listening mag, who would probably be interested in something like this, right? Looking for a volunteer client or volunteer opportunity. Now that's probably like, their first step is to go and find somebody like that. But what do you think are the things that make somebody a really good volunteer? And what are some of the benefits or somebody being like giving their best in these volunteer internship type of roles? What so what does that look like as far as interns that do? Well? And then what are some of the benefits for those interns who basically graduate from their internship with you?
Yeah, well, the first thing that came to mind was something very basic, but it's time management. So I think we all look at the amazing opportunities out there and want to do it all, at least, you would have probably boasted, especially when are undergrad students, you know, that phenomenon, or they stay up till like two or three in the morning and get no sleep and join every club their freshman year, and then they gotta back off?
And I would say that is actually number one, there's some quote, you've probably heard it before, that we don't rise to our aspirations, but we fall to our systems that we have in place. And that first system you got to have in place, it's just simple basic time management. So make sure you have the time blocked off to be able to volunteer and don't just say you're going to do something, when you can't actually follow through with it.
Robin Sargent Right, because if you say you can do something, unfortunately, that actually our industry is so small, and your reputation is so important. And so even for these volunteer clients, especially for volunteering for other instructional designers will now you are building your professional reputation, even though you think oh, it's just a volunteer job. I'm doing it for free. But the world is small and everybody's connected. And what the person that you said yes to you can't recommend you. Well, then now that's now we're talking about something different. And so, so yeah, so we're talking about time management is number one, what are some of the other things that you found that make a good volunteer?
Meg Ramey I would say, their openness to feedback, and that's hard for all of us, you know, when we put a lot of time and effort into something, it's our baby, right? And nobody likes to be told that they have, well, maybe not an ugly baby, but the baby needs to grow into their features, put it that way. And that's hard. So if somebody can accept that feedback, and take it and learn from it, that I think that is a huge characteristic. I think one of the harder things, and probably anybody's intern for me would agree with this, is if you are interning for somebody who actually knows something about instructional design, or knows how to use the programs themselves, they might be a little bit more demanding, and also a bit more hands on, you know, if you have a client who has no clue what you're doing, then they just hand it off to you completely. Whereas in this, you know, we're very hands on. And so we do give a lot of feedback. And it's very much a collaborative effort. And sometimes that's hard for people who want to be completely independent, just create something, send it back and be done with it, and just want a client to say oh, it's absolutely brilliant. No, we're probably gonna give you a lot of feedback and tell you it can be better this way that way, and maybe part of that is just the college professor in me, you know, always pushing somebody to do even better and be even better. And so if you don't like that, you're probably not going to be at least a good volunteer enjoy the experience with us quite as much. So you got to be willing to be able to grow and learn from somebody's feedback.
Robin Sargent Oh my gosh, if you don't like that don't be an instructional designer. I mean, the, the quote is like, love your job, but not your work, right, we can't be protective of the work that we do, because it is going to be reviewed. And feedback is going to be given ongoing, whether you're in a paid or volunteer position. And really, it's such a benefit for somebody to be able to get such detailed feedback within the context of a real project that yeah, it's important to be coachable. And it's also I think, important to really see that it is an opportunity for you to grow your skills, if you can receive the feedback that somebody has to offer you.
Meg Ramey I have the same thing for me as well. And if you grew up as a perfectionist like I did, you always just felt so bad when you weren't entirely perfect, but that does hinder a growth mindset. And a side note, one of the best programs that I found as somebody starting out and building a business from scratch, is Penn State, but probably any land grant university often will have entrepreneurship clinics, or they might have programs like I was in this iCore program that was funded by the National Science Foundation, but administered by Penn State. And so I got a business coach, who is an entrepreneur, professor at Penn State. And just yesterday, I was meeting with my coach, and she was reviewing this new website that we've made. And boy, I thought it was beautiful. I was so proud of it. And she just tore it to shreds. She's like, No, why did you put the name here? Do you know what site I'm going to you got to make that hero tag there. It's their problem, and they're the hero? And what benefit are you going to give them I don't care that I don't need to know the name of your company, I just put it in the URL. So tell me how you're gonna you get the idea. So I get that same sort of feedback myself. And I've been blessed to have people like my coach at Penn State who are willing to tell me you can do better and push me to do better. Oh, sure.
Robin Sargent I love that you brought that up too Meg because I mean, even for me, right? Like, I've always had some type of coach or mentor along the way. And even at this point, running my own business, just like you I also have business coach, and I'm in CEO advisory board. And because right like if you want to grow faster than just grow with somebody who's already been there, and I was five years ahead of you. And so yeah, it's it's definitely something that's part of the role as an instructional designer, but just a human that wants to grow and do better. You've got to be receptive. That type of feedback.
Meg Ramey It's scary to put yourself out there, like I came across this Pablo Picasso quote that said, I am always doing that, which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it. But it is super scary to do things you've never done before. And that you don't know. But how else you're going to learn. And that feedback is crucial.
Robin Sargent Yeah, yeah. And so how many projects? These are you started in summer of 21? We're on 23. So have you just kept doing interns? Ongoing? Do you have any idea how many have come through your door?
Meg Ramey Yeah, we probably had about 20. At this point, you can go to the website and see a lot of them. Not all of them gave us their information. But you can see a lot of them there. It's not necessarily ongoing, we typically do a fall and a spring cohort that sometimes those will go on a little bit longer than the fall or the spring.
And have you only been recruiting from idle Academy members? Or how do you find your interns?
Meg Ramey Yes, I had one that was not from IDOL, but only once. And that was from a online Facebook Instructional Design Group. But that was the only time I took somebody who wasn't already an IDOL. Because at least you know the IDOL. They've gotten great support of all of these wonderful courses that they can take to learn how to do it. So when somebody is doing beyond, I can say did you do movie magic yet? Because let's start there, do movie magic first, and then we'll talk and then I will help train you with beyond and teach you some upper level skills.
Robin Sargent And so what are the some of the things that you've learned along the way mag I mean, I know that you're running your business, and it's happens to be basically an instructional design business, right? You've developed courses to sell to universities for these international programs and students, you've ran volunteers and you've done your own instructional design work. So just give us some of your takeaways that'd be beneficial to our audience.
Meg Ramey You gotta have a good support network around you definitely do not start your own business. You don't. So I am incredibly thankful not all my for my wonderful spouse who's basically taken over like all the cooking and cleaning and just about everything you can imagine, so that I can just run with this, but also friends and all of these people that are strangers to me in the idol Academy who've come along and said, Yeah, we want to help you, and I have no clue why they want to help us. But, yeah, you've got to have a good support network. And sometimes you have to be willing to let people help you, which can be hard to so that's one of the takeaways I would say the other one is, I think, part of being successful is just sometimes staying in the business long enough that people can see that you are not going to give up that you are tenacious enough that you're going to keep showing up, you're going to keep being there, you're going to keep doing it. Because sometimes people like to hang back a little bit and say, Alright, I'm gonna watch how this plays out, is this gonna be successful or not? I want to make sure they're gonna be in business for another year or two. So sometimes it's hard at the beginning, you might not have a lot of financial resources or support. But if you can make it long enough, and they often say, you're not even going to make any money for the first three years, I didn't believe them, but that that's true, it can happen. So how are you going to survive it maybe one year and maybe three years, but until your business is actually turning a profit? How are you gonna survive? And part of that is just the support network that you have around you. So that's been huge for me anyway.
Robin Sargent Is there anything else that you want to share about idle world projects, or world kind, or volunteers?
Meg Ramey See any, you're going to ask me something like that, and I should add more things prepared to say, but I would just say, you know, our ultimate goal is to help create a world that is going to be more kind. And we believe that we do that by introducing students and other people to other cultures, other points of view, opening up the world to them. And that's part of our goal. But part of that is also just bringing in the people from your idle world. I like that they they've got that world connection there. And so I've learned a lot from all of the different people that I've met at idle, but also all of the different clients that we've taken around the world and students that we've trained. So yeah, it can be very lonely. I think when you're an instructional designer sitting at home in front of a screen, because lots of times you're not working in an office anymore. So I guess I would say as much as you can open yourself up to making those connections to letting the world be bigger than it currently is. It will be scary to step out there to try something new maybe to meet new people to get feedback from them. But ultimately, if we want to build a better world and a better life for ourselves, that's what we've got to do.
Robin Sargent Alright, Meg well, what is your best and final piece of advice for those who want to become an idol?
Meg Ramey She's not paying me to say this. But seriously, join IDOL Academy. I can't thank Robin enough for all that she has done for us. For all the support. She's given everything that I've learned through it, that was really one of the best decisions that I've ever made.
Robin Sargent Well, that that simple, so much, Meg, I really, I really didn't expect that answer. And I do appreciate it. Because we are we're like a very loving, supporting. And sometimes that also means tough love community, you know, as far as like giving feedback and things like that. But all our whole goal is to see people learn and grow and succeed in their and what it is that they're they want to do and their ambitions. And so I just love your business. I love your initiative. And I just so appreciate you taking other Academy members who you've been where they are now, and you take them under your wing and you support them and you and you train them up in a more personal way for such an incredible initiative. So thank you again for coming on, and talking to me on the become an idol podcast.
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