The Fear Of Changing Careers: An Instructional Designer's Story

The Fear Of Changing Careers
Summary: My realization that it was time to transition into Instructional Design from being an ESL teacher.

Changing Careers To Instructional Designer

The COVID-19 pandemic created a paradigm shift in the educational space. More teaching jobs became available, and there was an influx of teachers in this space. They flooded the market and it became oversaturated, which devalued my unique skillset. Ultimately, this led me to the decision to transition out of teaching.

The Dreaded COVID-19 And Why I Considered Changing Careers

Ah, the power and control that the COVID-19 pandemic had over the world. The impact of it was historically negative. COVID-19 was a health crisis that left us in pandemonium and debilitated us, invoked fear in most, and ran rampant impacting all sectors and realms, especially businesses. From companies downsizing and laying people off to companies closing down because they were not making a profit, COVID-19 was not a good experience for most.

I Was Traveling!

In 2020, when COVID-19 became a world threat, I was overseas and traveling through the UK. I was in England, on a beautiful island off the south coast called the Isle of Wight. The lockdown I experienced was like many around the globe, with social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

I can't forget the longing I had to meet with people I cared for and the need to enjoy the hustle and bustle of life. Alas, the best I could do was take long walks to break up my days when I wasn't working, video call family and friends, or watch Netflix. In many ways, this was daunting, as the stress among people was palpable, and you could feel it exuding from others. The hardest part for me while dealing with COVID-19 was not being able to live normally.

Let's Backtrack

Before I continue, I have to back up for a moment to explain my background and how I landed on the Isle of Wight. After spending three months in Poland in 2018, where I was certified as a TEFL teacher, I returned to Seattle and began my teaching career at a local language school. During this time, I worked primarily with engineers or programmers who worked at the various tech companies throughout the city.

As an ESL teacher, my role was to help my students improve their English comprehension and integrate better with US culture. I loved my job immensely as an ESL teacher, but there was a pull at my heartstrings as I had fallen in love with traveling, especially throughout Europe. I wanted my future to be in Europe and knew it was time to spread my wings to realize this.

I had been teaching for almost a year at the school before I decided that I had to explore Europe more and travel. I knew I could become a freelance teacher and teach online (remotely). This decision would give me the freedom and flexibility to travel and make a sustainable income.

My First Long-Haul Trip

In late 2019, I decided that it was time to make the transition and I began planning my travels throughout Europe. The UK was my first destination, and it was the kickoff for my trips across southern Europe, with a loop back up to Poland as my final living destination. I arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, and began my early exploration of the UK. I had intended to head south through England and find my way over to the Isle of Wight via ferry before I left the country. At the time, I had settled into my three-month exploration of the countries of the UK before the pandemic hit.

The next leg of my travels out of the UK was to Montenegro. I had booked my flights from London, with a short stop in Albania before heading back north on my route to Poland. These trips, unfortunately, were both cancelled when the pandemic hit. Though I was loving my travels through England at the time, I was now stuck there. This was all right as I was enjoying the UK, but being stuck and unable to leave was a bit upsetting.

I spent another two months in England as the pandemic built momentum, and things started to become scary with the growing death toll. I was concerned for my elderly mother and knew it was time to fly back to the US to spend time with her. At this time, there was a slight uptick in planes heading to select destinations, and you just needed to prove you didn't have COVID-19 with a test in order to travel.

Back To The US To Catch Up

After I arrived back in the US and spent quality time with my mother, I began having that itch to travel back to Europe. I was on a mission to travel and didn't want to allow the pandemic to stop me. I knew I had to return to Europe, and I wanted to see how certain countries were dealing with the crisis. I read articles and found Albania was not being affected the same way other countries were.

Wait, I’m traveling again?! I knew it was my next destination, so I booked another flight there. After many expensive tests to confirm I didn't have COVID-19, I was off to Albania! I spent the last three years living there, having arrived during the height of the pandemic, but for the most part, when the rest of the world was locked down, I got on living normally with minute restrictions.

The Slow Demise

Before I left the US in 2019, I had created a website for my ESL teaching, and from it I had gained numerous students who wanted to improve their English comprehension and communication skills. But as 2021 turned into 2022, fewer and fewer students were reaching out to me. I continued teaching, but it became a trickle of students. Honestly, this was a disheartening realization.

I felt defeated, as I knew I loved to teach, but I also knew teaching was no longer sustainable for me. I had to reconsider a passion of mine and figure out a plan to continue in the educational space and be of service, since this brought me great joy.

Research For Changing Careers

I began researching different industries in which I could use my skills to start changing careers. I started reviewing job boards and articles about roles teachers could transition into. I thought that working as a project manager would be a great place to apply my skills, as I liked to work throughout the day doing many tasks and having new projects.

I began looking at project management roles on job boards. While I did this, I started noticing the position called Instructional Designer pop up. I began learning about Instructional Design and noticed that project management was a component of this field. I researched more and found that Instructional Design was more aligned with what I wanted to do in the future. It has been five months since I decided to make this transition and begin the journey to becoming an Instructional Designer. Though I am new to this field, I am slowly and progressively learning what it entails.

My Newfound Path

Nowadays, I watch YouTube videos, read articles, join groups, and take courses that help me understand Instructional Design. I began an internship with a nonprofit organization and even found myself a mentor who has been working in Learning and Development for several years. But why, you might ask, have I have written this long-winded story about my transition from ESL teacher to Instructional Designer?

The Fear Of The Unknown In Changing Careers

My answer to that questions boils down to the fear that came along with the transition. I felt uncertainty, doubt, and trepidation in transitioning to a different field and changing careers. It has taken me several years to arrive where I am, but I think it was the best decision I could make in the situation I found myself in.

With that said, I still teach, but not to the extent I did in the past. I have also halted my travels and returned to the US to study at a local university. Traveling is still my passion, but it can take a back burner as I become educated and marketable for my future as an Instructional Designer.