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Kirsten Hemmy 3

Kirsten Hemmy’s Journey From Teacher to Instructional Designer

What were you doing before Instructional Design?

I was in higher education for a long time, almost 20 years. I think I was having a midlife crisis and wanted to leave higher education. It wasn’t anything particularly traumatic. I was living overseas and I was figuring out how to get back to the United States. I just came back in July with my daughter. I had actually tried through higher ed to come back, but I wanted to come back with the pay and the seniority that I had in the country that I was living in. It just seemed as though I would have to start over again, so I thought that as long as I was starting over again, I should just start over with something new. That would be exciting.

What made you decide to join Applied Instructional Design Academy (AIDA)? Did you have any hesitation about joining?

I had a former student that I was in touch with who had gotten into instructional design and had posted about Jill’s program. I just thought I would check it out. I had a conversation with Jill’s team and realized that it was something I wanted to do. I still didn’t have a very clear picture of how I would get to where I’ve gotten. 

I made a monthly payment and I figured out what I would need to get rid of to make the monthly payments and still have my food and rent or mortgage. I got rid of things that I felt could and should go for those months, like Netflix and other subscriptions that I had that were more for managing how I felt emotionally. I just thought of this as an investment into myself and my future. I did make some budgeting changes for those months and paid every month.


What was your experience like in Applied Instructional Design Academy?

I joined in September, but I didn’t do a lot the first few months. I also extended my length of time in the program. I’m just ending at the end of September now, so I extended by three months, which is a possibility if you need it. I felt I needed it. I started applying for jobs before I moved back to the US. And then after I moved back in July, I got a job within a month or a month and a half of getting back and getting settled.

I did AIDA while I was teaching and I used the coping strategy of establishing boundaries for the first time in my professional life. Just deciding to cut back. I’d had the fortune of having taught for a long time and so I could sort of go on autopilot. I did feel guilty about that actually. I felt very guilty about it. But I did it. I really wanted to make this transition and once I had committed to the program, I knew that I had a certain time to finish. I just focused on those goals, which also felt really good because I’d also gotten to a place in my career where my goal was survival.

I was just vague about what my goal was as a professional, as a teacher. So having really clear cut goals that I could focus on in the program made it easier. In case there’s anyone thinking about this from overseas…I was also nine hours ahead of central time, so I would jump on calls at 2:00 AM. I felt like I had this night life of instructional design and then the daytime of my work. So that’s how I worked it.


What are you doing now?

I’m currently working, doing instructional design. I have work in higher education and also with a healthcare company, a large HMO. I’m doing instructional design for them. 

In my company, there is the expectation of 40 hours a week, but you can get your work done when you need to get it done. We need to just keep our calendars up to date. We all have access to each other’s calendars, not because somebody’s looking to see where you are, but just because when somebody calls a meeting they want to be able to check and see that everyone can make it. So it’s quite flexible. Like I said, people talk about their kids and their other obligations that we have. I can log out because my child has a standing doctor’s appointment, so I can just not be there at that time every week. We also have opportunities for professional development. I have learning time every week that I just scheduled for myself and so no meetings will get scheduled at that time and I can be working on some of the skills I want to get better at.


How has your life changed? 

What I really enjoy and can’t believe is that I have weekends free. I really can’t believe it. I actually keep logging on to my work just in case somebody’s there, but no one’s there. No one cares. People come back on Monday and talk about all the fun things they did on the weekends. For the first time in my life since academia, I feel like I have time and am encouraged to have a social life. I talk about going to swimming lessons with my child. That’s a huge change. I felt in academia that we weren’t even supposed to have kids much less ever mention them. So that’s been a huge change. To be honest, I’m still sort of adjusting to the fact that I can do what I want to do on the weekends, but it’s a really fun adjustment.

I feel like AIDA really helped me with growth. I didn’t know what I needed, I didn’t know how to become it. I didn’t know what instructional design was or how to be an instructional designer, but realizing that I was scared to learn something new, scared to do interviews, scared for a lot of things, actually really helped my growth. I feel that regularly at work. I also still feel scared, but I feel confident. I know that I can do the work. I know that AIDA has really trained me for that. I felt a lot of fear in the very beginning of AIDA. I saw other people’s samples and thought mine were never going to look like that, but I really feel like this program gave me a lot of opportunity to grow in personal ways that I wasn’t really expecting when I joined, and those were really useful. No matter what job I could have at this point, I can do it. That has been growth that I didn’t really expect during my midlife crisis, so it was really, really, really great.

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