The September Learning Circuits Big Question is about the best places to work and the qualities that make them a good fit.
The Work Itself
One of the great things about instructional design, for me anyway, is the variety in what kinds of work I do. Designing and developing gives me a chance to write and be creative, working with SMEs gives me interaction with others, and coding webpages gives me more technical work to focus on those details. I love that I’m always learning new things for different subjects. I use all the different facets of my intelligence, and that’s a huge bonus.
With PLS, we’re trying new things because we’re a new team. It’s fun to be at the start of something and making the decisions about how our courses will work in the future. We’re really creating the rules as we go along, and that’s exciting.
At least at this stage of my life, I’m happier as an individual contributor than a manager. I tried my hand at management and decided that isn’t who I want to be. I don’t want to spend all my time in meetings, and I don’t always want to have to work after hours in order to get anything done. The politics and questionable ethics required aren’t what I’m looking to deal with. Then again, that may just be that particular company and environment where I had my management experience (they are currently under investigation by the SEC, DOJ, and who knows who else). When I left that job, I decided to go back to the creativity of instructional design, and I’ve been much more satisfied. I’ll leave the door open though; in a few years maybe I’ll be looking for something else.
Telecommuting means I have a lot of independence and control over my daily work, and I absolutely love it. It’s great to not worry about driving every day and to be able to deal with errands if I need to.
I also have the independence to determine my daily and weekly goals and to adjust as I see fit, which is a huge plus for me. I’m fortunate to work for someone who is the antithesis of a micromanager. She gives me direction on the major goals for several months out, and I have control over how I get to those goals. I realize not everyone would be comfortable with that, but I appreciate being able to project manage myself.
I’ve realized in the last few years how much my satisfaction with my job is affected by my relationships with my supervisor and coworkers. When I have a good relationship with open communication and similar goals, it can be great. When I don’t, I can be absolutely miserable, even if the work itself is still rewarding. I know that isn’t the case for everyone; my husband doesn’t need that strong emotional connection with his managers. I do know that it’s a requirement for me.
Making a Difference
Being in education does mean that I have the reward of knowing the courses I develop can make a difference. Even though I’m not in a K-12 classroom anymore and working with those students directly, creating courses for K-12 teachers means I do influence those students indirectly. That said, I did really enjoy doing strictly corporate software application training. The reward is different, but it was still satisfying to know that I was making people’s lives a little easier.
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