My First Rookie Mistake as an Instructional Designer


It was my first real project as an independent Instructional Designer with a new contract and company. I was equally excited as I was nervous to get my first chance in the real world and see if I had what it took.


After getting hired, I was quickly assigned a project that just required me to adjust provided content into a more appropriate format in style and tone.

After submitting my first draft, I awaited feedback with some confidence in the results. After all, I'd gained my education and applied that direct knowledge in an internship. I had everything I needed!

I couldn't have been more wrong!

In hindsight and what I know now, I'm embarrassed to admit the draft I submitted truly sucked lol.


Luckily, my manager was kind enough to not completely destroy my hopes and dreams of being an Instructional Designer and kindly explained all the areas I was wrong. I took her feedback and knew from that moment on that being an Instructional Designer took much more than plugging content into a document.

I've learned it's about knowing all the characters involved and how they all work together. The stakeholders, the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), your internal team and, of course, the learners receiving the information. Learning the intricacies of how and when all of this evolves is truly an art in itself and most of it is learned on the job.

My purpose in telling you this is to let you know that I've made lots of mistakes, but I've also learned a lot along the way.


My goal, as a more tenured designer than my first project, is to share that knowledge with those just getting started in the industry. There's a lot to learn but as you will soon see, once the parts start to come together it's an amazing dance between your knowledge, experience and interaction with others.

I'll be sharing this knowledge in a new series, What They Don't Tell You About Being an Instructional Designer. Dedicated to more than what you learn about in a classroom or content you can typically find on the web.

It's about giving some realistic insight on what to expect when you get out there and start your career.

Interested in the juicy details? Sign up here to get the latest and greatest as the series unfolds!


~ Dr. C

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