A Year Later: Tips From A Formerly Novice Instructional Designer

My first year as an Instructional Designer has recently come to a close. I have to say, this has been an exhilarating experience and truthfully has come a lot easier than I had originally anticipated. I did come into this field with some background knowledge and education experience to help put me on the right track. Having a BS in Electronic Media and Film and simply having a love for multimedia has been extremely beneficial for my role on this team. Also, having my Masters in Educational Technology has given me the knowledge required to be an effective instructional designer.

Starting any new job is a bit nerve-wracking. When it is a complete career change you experience a feeling unlike any other, especially when you realize the door you’ve been waiting for is finally opening for you. I have been so fortunate to work with a team that believes in utilizing each unique skill and interest every member has, and a team that encourages and supports one another. Let me tell you, if it wasn’t for this specific team and my mentor, I would not have thrived as much as I have in this position or field.

So, if you are just getting into the field of instructional design, or are thinking about a career in this field, let me give you a few quick tips on how to make your venture successful.

First and foremost: have a desire to learn.

I have heard that every office is different and simply going to DevLearn you see and hear about all the different programs and practices that companies use. You need to want to learn as much as possible. Step out of that comfort zone and work in Captivate *cringe*, or whatever program it is that you would prefer to never touch with a ten foot pole. Do what you need to do to show you care about your new career and that you want to make a name for yourself in this field.

Secondly: have an open mind.

While I am the multimedia specialist on our team and I have that passion already, I have learned my passion is deeper than I originally thought. I came into this field knowing I liked video production. Anything video related I knew I would enjoy; I thought it was my only real passion. However, after working on the team for a few months, I slowly started realizing how much I absolutely love working with audio. I enjoy recording it, editing it and even coaching others on our team and beyond to better their audio production skills as well. I never knew I had this passion hidden away, but low and behold it exposed itself and I find myself trying to touch every audio project that enters our office.

Third: be a part of the team.

Most offices are different but one that works on projects together should work cohesively together. I am so fortunate to love coming to work and working with everyone on my team. Now I’m not saying you have to become best friends with your coworkers, but you should make an effort to be a part of the team. Someone is going to grab some coffee? Go with them! A group is going to play disc golf at lunch? Go with! You don’t have to constantly go and be involved in everything your coworkers invite you to do, but accepting an offer at least once in awhile can really change the dynamic of a team and the way you work together.

Fourth: set personal goals.

You are starting out in a new job, possibly a new career, likely your employer will want to set goals with you whether they be on a personal or team level. It is always good to have goals for yourself. Maybe by the end of the year learn advanced actions in Premiere, or learn a tool you haven’t had to use yet but could come in handy in the future. Remember that you may have other goals to meet as well so don’t put your employer’s goals on the back burner, but give yourself something to work towards as well simply to better you and your own knowledge base.

Fifth but absolutely not least: have fun!

Hopefully you are in a field that you have such a passion for it isn’t work. Find a way to enjoy what you are doing. I know there have been projects that I have worked on that seemed a little dull but you need to find a way to enjoy every project you touch. I’m sure there will be days it’s hard to drag yourself into the office but it shouldn’t be because of what’s waiting at the office. Make sure you are enjoying what you do and have fun with it, especially in this field!


These are just a few quick tips to help you delve into the life as an Instructional Designer. Hopefully this will help pave the way for an easy and fun adventure in a new career!


If you’re a seasoned Instructional Designer and have any other tips for beginners, or if you yourself are a beginner and are worried about stepping into this field let us know your suggestions and concerns in the comments below!

Audrey is a senior Instructional Designer with the Learning & Professional Development team at Northern Arizona University. She has a B.S. in Electronic Media and Film with an emphasis in Entertainment Management and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology from NAU. With her experience as a newsroom weather director and on-screen talent, as well as multiple years of experience teaching in a university classroom setting, Audrey brings a unique perspective to the LPD team.

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