In March of 2013, I took a temporary assignment developing training content for customer service agents. The project involved converting instructor-led training into self-guided online training. After about two weeks in the role, I was convinced that I wanted to formally move onto the learning and development team. At the time, I was a technical Advisor, but I had spent many years in training delivery prior to joining the company.
In just under a year (February, 2014), I had successfully transitioned into a training delivery role at the same company. A year after that (March, 2015), I transitioned into a training development role where I was tasked with creating online and instructor-led training content full time. My target audience was internal and vendor partner managers, and my content typically focussed on operations and software tools trainings. My career was exactly where I thought I wanted it to be. I was creating training products that were innovative and engaging and making a positive impact system-wide. Something I could never do in a classroom with 20 students at a time, or on the phone with one customer at a time.
Nine months passed, and , I decide to enroll in the Learning Technologies graduate program at the University of North Texas in Denton (January 2016). Upon starting the program, I wanted to learn more about instructional design and the technologies that I was using on the job. I also wanted to make sure that if I ever wanted or needed to change companies, I would have the educational credentials needed to remain employable on the open market. In my opinion, this is probably one of the smartest decisions I ever made, given the volatility of today’s job market.
Fortunately, I have not had to leave my company, and I am a mere few weeks away from completing the graduate program. At the same time, my career goals have changed significantly since this time a year ago. In January of 2017, I began working on what appeared to be another online training product teaching our internal and vendor partner senior managers about a new business metric. This small project blossomed into a global project that called for me to be equal parts performance consultant, project manager, and content developer. I soon found myself engaging with leaders at the highest levels of the company, influencing decisions, and creating training for large audiences. During this project, I also advanced from a content development role into a training project management role. And, to top it all off, after delivering my plan to the key stakeholder, I was invited to deliver the training along with a few other subject-matter-experts worldwide.
Secretly, I have always wanted a job that called for international travel and so I was eager to accept the task. I traveled the world for two months delivering training to audiences as big as 150 people in the room at one time. After each delivery, I met with the install team and we modified the training to make it better for the next delivery. Rumor has it, this was the most successful training initiative of its kind in our company’s history.
While on this project, I began to wonder what my job would be like upon my return. I couldn’t imagine just going back to my cubicle and working independently on one training module at a time. Helping others see the big picture, isolating performance gaps, and offering solutions (that may or may not involve training) was of more interest to me. Furthermore, I really wanted to help others experience the rapid success and growth I had in the short time I have been part of the learning and development team at my company.
When I got back to the office after the worldwide tour, I developed one more training event that I then delivered worldwide with the help of a few subject-matter-experts in each region. This time I delivered all the training in a virtual environment. This required me to deliver the same training sometimes twice a day for three straight weeks, and while it was fun seeing all the managers again, I also realized that full time training delivery is not for me either.
So what’s next? As luck would have it, a new instructional design project management (IDPM) position opened up on my team. This IDPM role is responsible for developing training content to support our instructor qualification efforts. The IDPM is also responsible for supervising the development of content using a pool of temporary training developers. The IDPM works with the training delivery program manager to identify training needs for skilling internal and vendor partner trainers and training managers. The role combines two things I am both knowledgeable and proficient at, development and delivery. There is also a large performance consultant piece to the role, which also appeals to me. So I applied for and was selected for the position.
The skills I learned about the development process in this program, coupled with my on-the-job experience have more than prepared me for this opportunity. I am equal parts excited and anxious about this new challenge. I anticipate learning even more in this new role. I am especially interested in learning about building out a curriculum and using the LCMS to manage and distribute the content to others. I also think this role prepares me for my ultimate career goal which is to be a training manager, supporting other training professionals and overseeing the strategic direction of the training efforts for this or some other organization.
You just never know!