28 Mar TimelyTexting: Alisa DeJoseph goes from classroom to dream role in instructional design
The weight of the world has been lifted off Alisa DeJoseph.
Talk to her for five minutes – heck, just take a look at her smile – and you’ll feel the love radiating as she talks about her journey from teaching art to working as a project manager for the Center for Leadership Studies since June 2022.
“If I could hand-pick a job, I would really hand-pick this job,” she said. “I thank God every day for it … I’m so lucky to be where I’m at, because I thoroughly enjoy the work, but I thoroughly enjoy the company and their values and their loyalty — and I love my teammates.”
It’s a 180-degree turn from where Alisa sat one year ago, months after a layoff that left her frustrated and questioning everything as she fired off hundreds of applications and saw promising opportunities disappear into thin air.
There’s much to be learned from Alisa’s journey from the classroom to her dream job, crossing paths with TimelyText along the way when she reached out for help in February 2022.
It didn’t happen overnight, but the second the job came across the desk of recruiter Brant Wilkerson-New, he knew Alisa would be the perfect person to place with CLS.
“Alisa had awesome experience and her passion for instructional design was obvious,” Brant said. “When I was getting filled in on what CLS needed, it was almost like a line-by-line description of Alisa’s strengths and experiences. She was my first and only call.”
Alisa was living her first dream as an educator, teaching art at schools in Seattle and New York before coming to Raleigh in 2007, where she’d work for Wake County Public Schools until 2015.
As much as she enjoyed working with students in the classroom, she discovered she was finding joy in providing training and leadership among colleagues.
“I loved training and helping other teachers be successful and offering my help with, ‘How can we incorporate art into the classroom?’ I love helping to spark that creative interest in my peers,” she said.
Eventually, that bit of help for peers took Alisa into official roles, training fellow teachers across the district and providing mentorship for young educators and student teachers.
Eventually, she reached a crossroads that too many teachers are arriving at these days.
“Frankly, I just couldn’t afford to be a teacher anymore,” she said. “I just decided one day that I needed to put my family in a better situation financially.”
The experiences she picked up working with colleagues gave her the qualifications – and confidence – to make the leap into corporate instructional design with Durham’s Measurement Incorporated.
Build Your Portfolio
There’s certainly a leap from the classroom to corporate, but it might be easier than you think.
Alisa’s master’s degree in education certainly gave her an advantage, but she felt like it came down to natural curiosity, too. She read everything – big or small – she could about instructional design.
That inspired her to begin building a portfolio with the content ranging from training materials she created for her teaching colleagues, to finding opportunities to do instructional design work for organizations she volunteered with.
The most important advice Alisa gives to teachers looking to make the same transition is to create that portfolio and fill it with a wide variety of samples. See a real-life situation that would benefit from an L&D program? Go ahead and create it!
“People want to hear what you know, but they also want to see what you know,” she said. “It’s having real-world examples — whether they’re used or not — I think it’s important to get any kind of experience developing a program or a course for someone to use – even if you’re doing it on a volunteer basis.”
Of course, that takes an incredible amount of organization and attention to detail – something she said is also vital in transitioning to instructional design. Alisa is a big fan checklists, which she utilized to create her portfolio and still uses daily in her job.
“It’s a lot to do; It’s doing the research, it’s putting in the time, it’s making sure all of your information is vetted,” she said. “You really have to plan it out, and it’s a commitment. Sticking to your own deadlines, creating your own project plan.”
Living the Dream
Those hours spent planning, researching, practicing – and failing – led her to this moment, where she serves as a bridge between her company and clients. As a project manager on the Strategic Solutions Team, she works with companies to determine their needs, and how CLS’ instructional designers can create and customize content to fit each particular client.
Where teachers are often on an island in running their classroom, the corporate L&D world requires quite a bit more collaboration – something she feels is vital to making the transition.
“We’re working with multiple departments and I’m talking with multiple departments, so building relationships and maintaining relationships is really important,” she said.
All of the moving parts can make for a hectic day, but it’s one Alisa thrives on, enjoying the variety of people and projects she can work on in a given week.
“Here I get to combine all of my passions: instructional design, project management, facilitating and training, all with the theme of leadership development and how to bring out the best in others, and helping them help others,” she said.
Sharing the Struggle
In the end, the 361 days Alisa spent waiting for her dream job to come along was worth the struggle.
“Finding a job is a full-time job, and it’s daunting and it’s exhausting, and most of the time, you’re hearing ‘no’ or nothing at all,” she said. “Just that one ‘Yes’ has erased a year of misery, so it’s been great.”
She would rather the wait have been a little shorter, but it did bring her some perspective that she’s now trying to share with friends and colleagues who have gotten caught up in layoffs.
One morning recently, she caught a segment on Good Morning America that inspired her to start tapping away on her phone, resulting in this Linkedin post.
“I feel for these people who are going through what I went through last year, and I didn’t have many people to commiserate with,” she said. “Sometimes, you just need somebody to say, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ Sometimes, you need to vent and sometimes you need to cry and sometimes you just need to say what works for you.”
Stories like Alisa’s are the most rewarding part of the job for Brant and his TimelyText colleagues.
“It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that I played just a tiny part in helping someone to live their dream,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the big picture — I get to be part of life-changing moments for people and their families, and when you’re working with someone as positive and talented as Alisa, it’s all the more special.”
TimelyText is proud to have worked with Alisa, and we’re so excited to see her thriving in her new role, and paying it forward to others dealing with extended unemployment. Are you a teacher looking to transition into instructional design, or simply looking to catch a break in the job market? Reach out today at firstname.lastname@example.org.