A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my internship supervisor’s office (Glenda Robertson). She was prepping me for a meeting with a stakeholder on my project and I mentioned something about asking, “What do you think?” She said something like, “No, don’t do that because it opens up the opportunity for them to redesign what you have already designed. You may not have their expertise, but you are an expert in something and that is Instructional Design. You are a collaborator, not a support staff.”
I stared at her.
No one had ever told me this before – to be a collaborator.
Shift in Work Mission
So far I have been sitting in support staff positions in my career and have bowed (so to speak) to my superiors, especially those who have been researching and developing programming for over 10 years. I have always said, “My mission is to make others’ jobs easier.” Of course, this is nice of me, but it is also a great way to sit in a support staff position for the rest of my career, which is not what I want in the long run.
Why This is Profound
So, here is where Glenda opened my eyes. I am about to (hopefully) receive my Masters in Information and Learning Technologies or become a more specialized member of the workforce as an Instructional Designer. In truth, I already am more specialized since I have been doing this work for about 3 years and have completed most of my masters level work. What my degree has not taught me is how to be a collaborator with subject matter experts. It is my job to design great learning experiences that meet the learning and institutional requirements. This is my specialty. This is what I bring to the table and I will be proud of this asset in myself.
Strategy in Moving Forward
Where this gets tricky is in teaching my co-workers to start thinking of me this way, too. My one and only strategy for doing this is advocating for the value of my work and expertise. Without advocating for my role, skills, and value then I will likely never realize change or influence within this industry. I truly believe in myself and my value. I’m not the frosting on the cake, I am an essential ingredient for success for my teams and projects.