Author Topic: Career Choices  (Read 2702 times)


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Career Choices
« on: April 13, 2016, 12:07:17 PM »
I got such good advice on another thread (on whether to buy a house or rent/invest) that I thought I'd start another on career choices.


- I'm a Canadian Permanent Resident. I'm 32. Have a BA in English Lit. I taught English in South Korea for 9 years. In   preparation for moving to Canada, I also got a graduate certificate in Technical Writing.
- My wife is Canadian. She is 28. Has a BA in Health Studies. Grad Cert in Fundraising.

We are very similar people. We don't waste much money (I used to but stopped when I met her). We have started hiking recently. We have one car - paid in cash. We buy used phones and get cheapest available plans. We rent.

Our major expenditure is travelling. While in Asia we travelled alot. We have a current understanding of one major trip every two years - which we save towards. The next one is in 2018. We went to europe this year for 7 days. I also have my family in Ireland, so I have to go home occasionally.

We also have an attitude of 'we could live anywhere'. My wife has expressed an idle interest in working abroad again. Her job does have opportunities elsewhere and I would support that. We have no kids planned right now.

We have 100k saved (and soon to be invested - thanks other thread) and no debt. We should have alot more but for most of my twenties, I sucked at money.

Current Career

I've been in Canada for 3 months. I'm freelance technical writing. I've made about CA$4k a month pre tax. Alot of that is due to exchange rates. I don't enjoy technical writing.

My wife works for a non profit. Makes 40k pre tax. She is on contract now but will be full time next April. She gets great evaluations and is seemingly a shoe in. There also seems to be good job outlook in fundraising.

Career Possibility 1: Instructional Design

I did one module in my Tech Writing course on ID and it was my favorite. I like using the software (articulate, camtasia, captivate) and I have used Camtasia a lot in my main freelance gig (writing and producing software how to videos).

I've applied for jobs in this area and I haven't got an interview. My ESL experience is useless and my  Tech Writing Cert is also. I think I need a masters to break in. I would freelance and do masters-  and at the same time build portfolio and attempt to get a job in ID while I study.


- Its tangentially related to my ESL experience
- Its well enough paid (on average 60k a year)
- There are opportunities in Academia and Industry
- With the masters, I could fall back on a teaching job in Asia, if worse comes to worse
- Masters could lead to other similar jobs


- The masters I'm looking at is 18k over length
- There doesn't seem to be a big freelance market for it

Career Possibility 2: Technical Writing

I suck it up and concentrate on getting a job in tech writing.


- further education is unnecessary
- average salary is 55k which is fine


- not enjoyable for me

Career Possibility 3: Teach

My wife floated this to me. I could freelance while I do teacher training. She suggested I teach in North West Territories. The money is good apparently. I would need to do more research on this. Big con is weather.

Career Possibility 4: Web Developer

This is pie in the skyish. A friend told me about boot camps online and off, that can get you up and running as a web developer in a matter of months. I just joined team treehouse to gauge my interest and will see how it goes. Big pro is that this is a pretty good job for working remotely. My wife could go anywhere and I could find well paid work.

Career Possibility 5: Other ???

Anything that I can retrain into (either myself or through a course) in a year (two tops) that would be reasonably lucrative. Big ask I know. All ideas and opinions welcome!

« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 12:18:36 PM by dagagad »

Miss Piggy

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Re: Career Choices
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2016, 12:57:12 PM »
I have been a freelance/contract instructional designer for several years (with a completely unrelated master's degree). Let's talk. I'll write more soon as I finish my freelance work for the day!


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Re: Career Choices
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 02:20:30 PM »
Awesome! Looking forward to it.


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Re: Career Choices
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2016, 05:35:38 PM »

I run a training organization in healthcare and we are always looking for strong Instructional Design candidates.  In fact, I had an interview for a Sr. level ID this afternoon.  Here are the pointers I would give you for that path.:

1. Make sure your resume focuses on the work you have done around ID - I should be able to see that at a glance - talk about the "successful design and launch of project X that supported 2000 people and received an average review of 4.9 out of 5 while reducing time to proficiency by x% for users that took the course."  Showing the metrics-based impact of your work is key.

2.  Your educational background is not all that important - I have hired people with advanced degrees (both related and unrelated), undergraduate degrees (related and unrelated), and no degree at all, but an awesome work product portfolio of what they have done in the real world.

3.  By far, the most important thing for this type of role is to have a really solid portfolio of work product.  I can ask you all the questions in the world, but you know what really gets me excited in a candidate for one of my positions?  When they open their work product, show me the supporting artifacts (audience analysis, high level and detailed design plan, storyboard, evaluation documents) and then open up a truly engaging piece of eLearning, instructor-led module, or performance support tool they developed.

You would be amazed at the number of people that my recruiters tell me are seasoned ID's but when are asked about a portfolio of work product, they have nothing - I do not even waste my time with them, regardless of their resume.  If you need to, develop something fun on your own that solves a real or made up knowledge gap - I hired an entry level ID 2 years ago that did just that - with no prior ID experience.  But he presented a real problem, had mocked up all the project artifacts and designed and developed the solution to solve that problem.  He was a natural, and is now probably in my top 2 strongest IDs.

Just my .02 - ID is a really great field to get into - if I were not in leadership, that is where I would be. 

PM me if you have any specific questions about that piece in particular, always willing to chat more about this topic.



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Re: Career Choices
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 05:42:26 PM »
As a former editor who did instructional design for a major publisher of educational curriculum, I think you actually have a GREAT skill set/background to do ID for a curriculum company. If someone with your qualifications came across the desks of the editorial team I worked with previously, they would definitely be calling you! I worked at a company that published a reading curriculum that was designed specifically to support ELL and special education students, so you would literally be a perfect fit for them.

Any major publisher of curriculum for students is doing at least a little work in online learning, so you might consider researching those companies and reaching out to them.

PM me if you would like any additional information.


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Re: Career Choices
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2016, 08:53:47 PM »
Thanks guys! I will pm you with more questions.


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