Confessions of an eLearning Student Worker

We’ve often shared how our experiences before coming to instructional design influence our work. As an eLearning team in higher education, we have the opportunity to work with traditional college students.

Our student workers come from a variety of backgrounds, and while most will not go on to work in instructional design, the experiences they gain with us strengthen their workplace skills and resume. Our students find value working with our team, and they’re excited to add their voice to Model eLearning.

Celeste Fendt
Photo credit: Asacia Norris of Junie B. Photography

Today, we’ll hear from junior Celeste Fendt. Celeste is a professional writing major and Associate Editor for Spring Arbor University’s student newspaper, The Pulse, and she plans to work in advertising after she graduates.

I still remember that crisp fall day when I finally received the email I’d been longing for: news of an on-campus job opening that didn’t involve the cafeteria. In an actual office called “eLearning.” This was huge. Practically unheard of for a freshman. Forget the fact that I had no idea what eLearning even meant.

My mind darted back and forth between doubts and encouragements: Would they consider hiring a freshman? — I guess I am a little tech-savvy. Will this work with my class schedule? — It seems like something I could handle.

I hightailed it back to my dorm room to complete the application, which was probably the most thorough questionnaire I’ve ever filled in. It was not the typical “provide a resume, list your previous work experience” survey. This application involved a series of hypothetical, technological scenarios which required feedback on how I would respond to each situation.

I submitted detailed, paragraph-long responses to their questions and was asked to come in for an interview. And at the end, they offered me a job! That was almost exactly two years ago, and where my eLearning era began. Since then, working in eLearning has provided me with valuable knowledge and experiences that apply to all sorts of areas of life.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

As a student worker in eLearning, the majority of my work takes place online. While I can lean on the team and other student workers, I occasionally have to solve tech problems on my own in order to complete my assignments.

Whether it is a formatting issue in a document, or a broken link within a course, or the cloud storage service is down, these situations force me to think critically and troubleshoot. In turn, solving problems within these online tools actually gives me a better understanding of how they work.

These skills have proved beneficial in other parts of my life as well. Since I have become more comfortable with eLearning tools like Blackboard, Trello, and Box, I am much quicker to help my peers or professors when someone has a question regarding these tools—and classes and homework run much smoother.

Career Readiness

Last summer, I worked as a copywriting intern at an advertising agency in Fort Wayne, IN. During both rounds of interviews for that position, I referenced my work in eLearning and connected it to the expectations they set for my role as an intern. My future supervisor was impressed by my knowledge and application of online learning.

The internship regularly involved writing for online outlets—and because of eLearning, I was able to draw upon the skills I developed from studying the content of online courses as I worked on them. Proofreading online materials also significantly helped my copyediting skills, which I use regularly while writing for my university’s newspaper.

On top of all that, working in eLearning also requires an attention to detail and the ability to follow instructions and accept feedback. I’ve discovered these two capabilities are necessary for nearly any job.

Communication and Teamwork

Although most of my work is online, my job depends on a significant level of oral communication. Whenever I need clarification on a task, I would much rather ask one of the Instructional Designers (ID) in person than send them an email. This not only saves time but helps me practice communicating professionally with colleagues—a skill I’ll use frequently when I get a job after I graduate.

When an ID gives me an assignment, I see it as an opportunity to help others and to lessen their workload. This is part of what makes my job so rewarding. I approach most tasks with this mindset: that I have the power to make an impact with even the smallest of projects.

While it’s not my goal to work in instructional design, the skills I have gained from working in eLearning will stay with me for the rest of my life as a writer. I look forward to one day applying these skills to my future career.

Have you ever moonlighted as an eLearning student worker or intern while preparing for another career? Do you have any comments or encouragement for Celeste? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Author: modelelearning

Our team explores instructional design and eLearning trends. We develop student-centered blended and online courses at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, MI.

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