How I Will Use What I learned as an Instructional Designer in the Future

If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be pursuing a job in instructional design I would have first asked “what is that”, and then told you that you were crazy.  Even though I have only been a student worker for an instructional design department for just over a year, I have learned so much about the workplace, my career interests, and what type of an employee I hope to be in the future.  For me, I will obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and even though instructional design and psychology may not seem related, there is so much that I have learned that I can use within my future endeavors in Psychology.  

  1. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

As corny as it sounds, this could not be more true.  Before working in instructional design, I had little experience with working on a team.  As someone who identifies as an introvert, I never thought that I would have enjoyed working in a team as much as I have.  This experience has taught me that even though I am introverted, I am still able to succeed in a team-oriented setting.  Working in a team has taught me that your other team members are going to be great resources for you to utilize, and often they will have ideas that you may never have thought of before.  It is okay not to have all of the answers right away, and it is okay to rely on others for those answers.  Many of our projects require elements that are out of my scope of knowledge, and visa versa.  It is a good feeling when you know that you can rely on your other team members, and they can rely on you for knowledge as well.  Just because you do not have all the answers right away does not mean that you have failed in any way, it just means that there is potential for you to learn and grow from the knowledge that other team members can provide.  It is also important to strike a balance between work-related discussion and talking about what you did over the weekend.  Sharing information about your personal life, to an extent, will help you grow closer as a team, and then these collaborations will be that much more effective and productive because of these deeper connections that you have with your team members.  

  1. Keep an Open Mind

When I was applying to work in instructional design I did not have any previous experience working in this field.  When I first began this job I thought I would never be able to understand the immense tech-lingo and the different applications that we use.  Though it took time, I finally caught on. If I had not kept an open mind throughout this process, I may never have been able to expand my career development horizons.  Because of this experience I was able to learn more about how this job could help me pursue a career in Psychology, and I was able to learn about the career development opportunities in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.  This experience has allowed me to take on leadership roles that I will be able to utilize in multiple career fields in the future.  The primary message here is that even if you do not think the description of the job applies to you, but the employer is willing to give you a chance, take it. Any job experience will be able to help you grow as a professional, expand your resume, and become more knowledgeable about careers that are available to you after gaining real-world experience.  Possible employers will see that you have taken the initiative to gain experience, and that you are responsible enough to keep a job for an extended period of time. This will put you a step above others who only have a Bachelor’s degree and no ‘real world’ experience.  

  1. There is Always More You Can Learn

As a student, I know exactly what it is like to be constantly learning. This job has taught me that learning does not have to always be centered around learning facts or how to write a proper essay; you can learn from others each and every day. One of the major things that working in instructional design- especially with working on a dynamic team- is that there is always something to be learned from each person that you interact with.  One thing that this job has taught me, which other millennials can also learn, is that older generations can teach you a great deal about the workplace.  Even if someone is only a few years older than you, they still have a few more years of life lived and have learned something that can be valuable within these few years. Even if someone is the same age as you, they have had different life experiences than you.  In future career endeavors, I will keep this in mind when interacting with each new person I meet. Especially since I hope to one day hold greater leadership roles, it will be important to keep this in mind.  Even as a leader of a group, there is always something to be learned from the people that surround you.  

  1. Compassion is Key

While in the workplace, I have learned that the majority of people respond best to compassionate leaders.  When people feel as if other employees genuinely care about them and their well-being, people will be more likely to provide a quality product.  Sometimes life happens, and work does not always need to come first in these instances.  In future leadership roles, it will be important for me to keep in mind that many team members respond best to compassionate leaders, and will be much more likely to listen to criticism when it is tailored in a compassionate way. In order to make meaningful change it is important to listen to contributions brought up by team members, take these into consideration, and respond with an answer that comes from a compassionate and understanding place.  As said best by Bob Nelson, “You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within”.  

Even though I have spent the last year working in a field that is not necessarily applicable to my degree, there is so much that I have learned that I will be able to use in my future career endeavors.  I know that this experience has given me the opportunity to expand my resume and to appear best suited for future career advancements.  Any experience in the workplace will help give some real-world experience, which is much more preferred than just having classroom experience as an undergraduate student.  

How will you apply what you have learned in the workplace to your future career advancements?  Let us know more about your experiences in the comments below!


Learnership Institute. (2016). 3 Pillars of Compassionate Leaders.  Retrieved from:

Haley studied Northern Arizona University, where she pursued her degree in psychology. She hopes to one day be able to study human behavior in the workplace as an industrial/organizational psychologist, where she wants to improve individual performance and health, while at the same time benefiting the organization as a whole.

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