My First Year as an Instructional Designer

a seedling sprouting from the earth, leaves facing toward the sun
Photo by Gelgas Airlangga on Pexels.com

I’m writing this post 15 minutes before work, on purpose — because I get stuck trying to make reflective posts perfect and they don’t need to be.

Today is something to celebrate: It’s my one year anniversary of working as an instructional designer in Happiness at Automattic. Happiness is the customer support division, and if you know me personally, you know I care about support. Customer support folks are often the least supported, and I’m a little obsessed with making customer support professional development as good as it deserves to be over here.

Luckily, our culture supports that. In fact, everyone who joins the company in a non-support role starts their job by completing a “support rotation.” It’s a little bit of “learn about our customers, our products, and our awesome support folks as a way to get up to speed with the company in general,” and it brings a mix of emotions and experiences. In my role as an ID, I’ve thought for months about how to enable folks of so many different backgrounds to have a better go at that support rotation, and…I’m not giving up.

That’s the thing I want to timestamp for my first year: how hard it was, and how much time it takes to figure out your role — a new role for the company — moving from a super-predictable, super-easy (for me) role of “kinda sorta doing instructional design things” in central IT at a big university, to being the sole ID for the customer support division in a distributed corporation.

I’ve learned to ask for help and to build partnerships. I’m also giving myself a pass on 2022, because…well, you can pull up those posts about the Marshall Fire (Colorado) from my archive. Executive function tanked like it never has before, and I’m just starting to feel “better” again. Let’s not forget the state of the world (politics, pandemic). I accomplished some things — not all — and that’s okay.

Year one was about planting seeds for me. Year two is about trying to get stuff to grow. Nurturing training needs for the various customer service teams/product areas into tidy little rows of flowers and vegetables. Or maybe just a wilflower meadow because we don’t always need tidy…sometimes, we need to let things grow where they want to grow, and we can protect that little space (this is a terrible metaphor for communities of practice, and making space for both informal and formal learning).

I’ve learned more than ever this year about instructional design, and about my audience (my fantastic colleagues). And yet, what stands out to me is how much I still don’t know. Maybe that’s the right place to be — because curiosity is my biggest driver, and I need some fuel for this next year.

There’s one thing I am 100% confident in knowing: this is where I want to be. The people, the conversations, the creativity, the care… thank you for year one, Automattic, and I’m excited to grow with you in year two.

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