My Career Path: How I Became a Learning Experience Designer
A series on the unique career journeys of the IDEO community.
This is part of a series on the unique and circuitous career journeys of the IDEO community. Read more articles on career development and mentorship on the IDEO U blog.
What’s your role at IDEO?
I'm a Learning Experience Designer on the IDEO U team, working on course refreshes, iterations, and content creation. I love what I do. It’s so important to deliver relevant, compelling, contemporary, and engaging content to our learners.
Recently, I’ve been working on special projects like refreshing our Foundations in Design Thinking courses with a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion lens and iterating on our Human-Centered Systems Thinking course through data, learner feedback, and Teaching Team suggestions.
My next step will be helping to co-create a future course. Stay tuned!
“Be patient but curious with your career process. Who do you want to be?”
Nusrat Ahmed, IDEO U Learning Experience Designer
How would you describe your career path?
I graduated with an Anthropology degree and grew a deep love and interest in cognitive science, psychology, and human performance. I’m currently in a part-time masters program studying Cognitive Science in Education to learn more about the theories that support a lot of the actions that learning experience designers take. My long-term goal is to help improve human potential by teaching people how to learn, not just what to learn.
However, I didn’t always know what I wanted to do! I started off in journalism before moving on to finance. As I grew an interest in education and design, I learned about an awesome field called user experience design. I then worked at an AR/VR startup, which led me to my first learning experience design role at a fintech company, and then to IDEO U, as I wanted to work on more creative projects.
I would describe my career path as one in which I really listened to where the path was taking me. I would gravitate to particular leaders, classes, or thoughts, and I would try to synthesize and centralize the main takeaways. They would almost always point to wanting to be someone creative, empathetic, and learner centric.
I found myself seeking a career that would be a blend of the people I admired most and the industries I believed would have an incredible impact on how future generations learn. That’s when being a learning experience designer became a reality.
What career advice would you give others?
I learned about what I liked by eliminating what I didn’t like. It helped me narrow down my choices. From the moment I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to dedicate my time and energy to, I was able to give it all the love I could.
My advice would be to be patient but curious with your career process. Oftentimes, many signs will point in one or a few directions and the only way you can truly appreciate them is by being receptive. It’s okay to have a circuitous path as long as you consistently renew your intentions. Who do you want to be?
If you’re interested in becoming a learning experience designer, I would suggest learning more about its intersections: people, learning, design, cognitive science, and so much more.
Keeping the end goal in mind and the gaps that may exist between you and learning design, I’d encourage you to work backwards from there. But first and foremost, finding experts in the field and hearing their stories—and sharing yours—would be a great start.
Learn how to iterate, prototype, and experiment in our online course From Ideas to Action.
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