That's How to Navigate the Gray Spaces of a Liminal Career!


Training Manager Stacy Salinas joins me to talk about the ways in which instructional designers must navigate a lot of gray spaces to carve out a career path. Inspired by the article "61 Ways to Know You Are Talking to An Instructional Designer", Stacy talks about the ways in which careers in L&D often involve a lot of liminal spaces.


We are always navigating the spaces between projects, clients, technologies. We also discuss how instructional design is a growing field and how we are uniquely suited to address future learning needs; needs for jobs that haven't even been invented yet!


Connect with Stacy on Linkedin.

The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain spelling mistakes or typos.


Leslie Early

Okay, today I'm super excited to have my guest. I have Stacy Salinas here with me and she is an instructional designer and virtual engagement specialist crafts-wo-man. Is that correct? Am I saying that correct, Stacy?


Stacy Salinas

That is. I am the crafts-wo-man.


Leslie Early

And today we are going to be talking about gray spaces of a liminal career, which sounds a little woowoo sort of out there. But I think this is a really interesting topic, and I'm so excited to dive into it with you, Stacy. But before that, do you want to take a couple of moments to introduce yourself?


Stacy Salinas

Sure. My name is Stacy Salinas. I'm a sales training manager with the focus on sales enablement experience, hire onboarding and development and tenured employee development. I'm also the career enhancement chair for Pac them and the professional association for Ken pewter training. And that is actually where we met Leslie. And I must have man I'm saying girl and a little bit lovely. and sweet. And yeah, it's short and sweet and has so many juicy tips and tricks. And I'm truly grateful just to be on here and having this conversation with you.


Leslie Early

Oh, that makes me so happy. Stacey. Yeah, we met and packed and I had just joined pack because I had just joined Fredrickson back last fall. And I was so surprised you actually said something about the podcast impact and I was like blushing. Thankfully, it wasn't live in person. It was like just me blushing behind my zooms food. But I was really so happy. And thank you so much for that, by the way.


Stacy Salinas

Yeah, I know. I was like a little. When I first was gonna mention it. I didn't even know that you were impact that first and then it was like, I saw your name pop up. And I was like, that's her. Shout out because it was prior like when I was preparing or whatever. I've been listening to your podcast for a little bit already. And then all of a sudden knows like, she's here. That's that girl.


Leslie Early

Yeah, yeah, it's a small world. It's just so funny. Yeah. And also previous guests, Brenda Peterson, I also met through PACT. So Hank, it is a great organization. I really love it. And I know you are actually on the board there. And I'm always sharing learning resources with the community. So yeah, I just I love PACT and we have one coming up this week.


Stacy Salinas

And I'm excited about it as always, like makes my whole week like it gives you something a little bit to, you know, look forward to at the end of the week. And especially it's, you know, like you find your pack, really, it's a great resource. And I think that any instructional designer should be able to find their community where they feel like they can learn and grow with like minded people that are interested in the same things. And it's just a great way to connect with people, especially when we're in this new world and new environment where we need to find all different kinds of ways to connect with people.


Leslie Early

Right. And I know we this is not the point of this episode, but I did want to mention, it is P-A-C-T, so PACT. And it is a local organization similar to like an ATV. But I think that people I mean, virtually at least people could try it. I don't really know. But if you're interested in your Minnesota.


Stacy Salinas

Yep, that's right, it is PACT.


Leslie Early

So but let's keep moving because we have a very unusual and interesting topic. And when I first reached out to you and asked to know, hey, you want to be on the podcast? And what would you like to talk about? And you said, let's talk about the gray spaces of you know, this role of being an instructional designer. And and At first, I thought you were talking about like, okay, e learning developer versus like, Instructional Designer versus learning experience designer. But actually, you're like, No, I'm taking this in a whole different direction. So before we go too far into this, I just want to give you a chance to sort of set up What did you mean when you say let's talk about the gray spaces of a liminal career being instructional design? Really?


Stacy Salinas

Yeah, for sure. So I think that To start off, we need to go where I first where I came across this notion of what a liminal career is. So I was reading this article and it was posted by higher art inside higher ed called 61 ways. You know, you're talking to an instructional designer. And instantly my curiosity light bulb went off. It was like, ding I want to know what it feels like to talk to me. I approached the list kind of like my cliff, I was like, hoping that I could gain some insights around, you know, maybe some things that I could talk about impact or different areas of development that I could look into that I hadn't thought of before. So I was going down the list, kind of like a checklist, and I'm like, jack, I'm good there, smiley face, Been there, done that, you know, a star, I can work on that one, you know, just gone down the list. And then they came to number 19. And it said they are proficient and navigating the gray areas of building a webinar career. And then number 20. was they know what a liminal career mean? And I was like, hold up, wait a minute. There's a term for our career path. I need to investigate this more, I need to find out what they're talking about. Right? So because I've never met an instructional designer that was like, Yeah, I went to school for instructional design, and I started this path right out of college. We've all ended up here and like around about way so when you think of the word liminal, what comes to mind to your Leslie


Leslie Early

so yeah, and when you mentioned it to me, you know, about a liminal career as a liminal liminal. Because I had heard this term before but to me this is like a term that means like, I hear it when people talk about like, sort of paranormal things like between two worlds, you know, like spirits exist in the, in this liminal space or like, like a high school at nighttime when there's nobody there. That's like a liminal space because it's like, just has a weird, a weird energy to it is how I think.


Stacy Salinas

Totally doesn't I mean, that's the reason kind of why I love the term liminal. So when I think liminal, it is definitely that it's the space in between. We're all in, it's where all the transformation takes place. It's where we let go of what was and move on to what's going to be. And when we bring it into the context of like a career path. The way I think about it, it's a journey. And it takes us outside the traditional career paths and down roads, where there's a lack of clear categories. Our trajectories, are even an understanding of what the field of instructional design is, and what the path should even look like. Have you ever tried to explain your job to somebody before?


Leslie Early

Um, yes. And no, and nobody knows what it means. If you say I'm an instructional designer. Yeah, it's it's sort of hard to explain to people outside of l&d, I think,


Stacy Salinas

yeah, totally, for sure. So I have a funny story. I explained to my dad what my role is, and you know what I did, and the next day, my grandma calls me and she's like, so you're dead? selling me? you're designing video games now? Don't you think you should have stayed in accounting? Not video game.


Leslie Early

Wow, I wonder what the jump was when he got to video games. But yeah, I don't know what I do. Even though I explain it in pretty explicit terms, they're still like, so is that like, teaching?


Stacy Salinas

So when I first got into instructional design, I was an elearning coordinator. So I created a lot of content. And most of it was sales content. So I think I was like, I use games and, you know, other different avenues of learning theories to get them interested in our products and our history and all that stuff been in sales. So I think that's kind of how I went to video game thing. I would love that to add that title to my, to my list of titles, but I don't think I'd be very good at it. I don't play video games. So I can imagine what it would be like trying to create one. And I don't think articulate well let us


Unknown Speaker

Oh, yeah,


Leslie Early

yeah, I know, there are people who are trying to make games out of Articulate Storyline. I have seen people like that as well. But I think that also just adds to what you're saying, though, is that in this field of instructional design, there's like, it's sort of there's no one pre determined like, career path. There's no one pre determined way to get into instructional design or what you're going to do once you find yourself in this, this


Stacy Salinas

are where you're going to go like it's up to you and the future is bright, I think. So. I feel like in today's world, we find ourselves there's a wide scope when it comes to instructional design practice. There's a diverse range of functions and specializations. Hence how we all become known our jack our Jill's, of all trades, and due to the nature of the work that we do, the career path becomes even more liminal as we are constantly talking to new people exploring new ideas. testing out new ideas, new theories, new approaches to learning. We are right in the middle of all that liminal awesomeness, right and the in between what I like to call it. But the good thing about it is that it drives continuous learning and builds curiosity. And that's what makes this career field so intriguing and fascinating for people is that you're always in this state of like, what's next? What's next? What can I design next? What's the next thing that's going to get people interested in moving into the right direction? When what motivates them? How do we get them to keep on wanting to learn? You know, and that's I think that's the great part about this job. And I feel like that's what makes it a liminal career path. Yeah, so


Leslie Early

I guess I can't agree more with everything you said. Like there's always something new to learn. There's always new clients coming in. Or if you're in one organization, there's always new projects, always new learning challenges. And you're always just looking toward finishing something, but also moving towards whatever the next thing is. So I guess, you know, what type of person or what characteristics do you think would be are? What am I trying to say here? What do you think instructional designers should be good at, in order to exist in this liminal space?


Stacy Salinas

Well, if anything from the past year, we've learned that we have to get comfortable being in a constant state of change. And this career field grows, I believe, I believe corporations or organizations or whoever are going to become even more interested in you utilizing the skill sets of instructional designers to meet business goals and initiatives. So first, I think we really need to get comfortable and being in the uncomfortable and the in between stages, because like you mentioned, it's always going to be that way, we're always finishing up our project and moving on to the next. It's like a constant state of evolution there. And I think that this is a time that we can truly grow and learn in this space, if we end it, we need to stay present and the in between to be able to see the opportunities that are coming our way. Next, I think we need to learn how to become really good conversationalist. We can where we can create a connection and facilitate meaningful interactions, not only for our learners, but for our subject matter experts, our managers, our co workers, and pretty much everybody that we work with. And beyond that all the way up senior leadership all the way down. I think just the way that we present ourselves in our conversations can really make us effective in this role. There's a great book by Susan Scott called fierce conversations, achieving success at work and life one conversation at a time. And if you're really thinking about, you know, kind of perfecting the skill set, I highly recommend this book, she has a couple of different activities in there that deal with like one on one conversations, and something called a mineral rights conversation where you really are able to like, figure out how you can connect with those subject matter experts or whoever you need to have these conversations with, to get them to the point to come up with like a solution for you. Especially when you're working with subject matter experts when everybody thinks that all the content needs to be in there. I mean, it's a really good way to have that conversation. And sometimes it needs to be fear. So yeah, if you're interested in that, check out that book. And then finally, I think we need to adapt the intrapreneurial mindset, especially nowadays, and use it as an underlining mechanism that can expose opportunities and ignite our ambition to engage ourselves and enables us to flourish and thrive in this career field. So those would be my like, top three things that I think are the most effective to get you to succeed.


Leslie Early

I was gonna say so just to recap, what I heard was, you have to sort of like, always be looking for opportunities, because I think that's a big one. That if if I don't think you'll be a successful instructional designer, if you were very stuck in your ways, and like had one solution in mind that you use for every single problem that you encountered, like I don't think that would work very well. And then having these conversations I have to look up that book. I have not heard heard of that before fierce conversations, but so much of what we do, is that right? Like talking and talking and then double checking and then just make documenting everything and an episode I had just recently with Mark Cunningham, who's a project manager that said exactly that. Like you just have to have so many ongoing conversations about these things. And that's huge. And then the last one, I now have talked so much that I have forgotten the third one...


Stacy Salinas

An entrepreneurial mindset.


Leslie Early

Yes. The mindset. Yes. Because you are. I think it's the same of like constantly looking for new opportunities. I think they're very related. Yeah. And always trying to find the better way to do things or new ways to do things, or how can I solve problems in a way that no one's even thought of yet?


Stacy Salinas

Yeah, that's totally at though, like solving problems that don't even exist yet. So if you can kind of see where it's gonna go and start poking holes in it and coming up with a solution before they even realize that there's a problem is a great way to think about this career field as well. And definitely, like on it, like on your, when I interviewed for my job, they told me I had a unique set of skills, I was like, are you like trying to like, nicely put me down or like what's going on here? Like, use every single skill that you've ever got to get you to this point and use it to your advantage, because there's so many things that we have learned on our path into instructional design that make so much sense on how we ended up here, when you look back at it. So I definitely think like, own it on every little single piece that you can own. And, you know, we're the ones creating the future here. So we should just keep on keepin on.


Leslie Early

Yeah, and I don't know if we really prepared this question, but we did talk about it a little bit, is that so much of what our role is, is about sort of preparing people for the future, right. And so and we're in such a weird time right now, especially with the pandemic, and everything that I think our role now has become, the benefits of having an instructional designer on your team maybe have become even more apparent.


Stacy Salinas

For sure I read this. I agree 100%, I read this stat, where it said something like 75% of jobs that will people will hold in 2030 don't exist yet. Now I remember being like in awe of that stuff. I was like 75%, that's a big heap of jobs that we're not preparing people for. Yeah. Over the past year, we have seen like, instructional roles start to like, explode into the market. And I honestly feel like we have a space within that 75% to that will fall under instructional design roles. And I think that, as a community, we need to start visualizing what those roles could be and could look like. And we need to stay in these gray spaces so that we can keep our great creativity flowing. Because when you think about it, we're going to be the ones creating those jobs, telling them what the need is, and being like you need one of these people person just you know, like how, you know, back at the beginning of COVID, they're like, well, we need an instructional designer. And that's how we saw that happen. So I really think whatever there's going to be and there's so much stuff in the pipeline right? Now, that is so cool that we can see how it's going to come into our field, and it's gonna take, like, we can't expect everybody to know everything, even though that's kind of the role that we've taken in the past. But again, you know, do one thing, and then try to be off learning how to create VR at the same time, like we need to hone in on what we're going to specialize, right. I mean, you can't do you can't expect everything to do every one person to do everything. And that's the problem with this crew build right now is that there's so many people that are an instructional design team of one, and like big corporations, and it's just like, it's not going to be very good for us in the future, if that's the mindset that we keep moving towards. So I definitely think that we need to start figuring out what those roles are going to be and how we can, you know, kind of start putting those little nuggets into the people's ears to get them to start realizing that, you know, instructional designers can have a career paths, we can make it we can do it. We just need to figure out what the steps are to get there and how to keep continuing this field growing because it is such a rewarding career field to be.


Leslie Early

Yeah, and well 75% of jobs that don't exist yet. So that's a pretty big deal. And if we don't even know what those jobs are going to be yet, then we can't really train for them yet, but we can anticipate that there will be learning needs. Like that's the thing that we know for sure. Like we don't know exactly what those learning needs are yet, but we know we're going to need a large workforce of people who we are now calling instructional designers who are going to help address those future learning needs. And, and I think that's a big deal. So yeah.


Stacy Salinas

And I mean, maybe the term like instructional designer goes away, and we have learning strategists is what I like to call them where they are, you know, taking the strategy of real business outcomes and implementing it into their learning are, you know, there's so many different avenues that this career field could take. And I'm extremely excited to see where it's gonna go. And I'm gonna keep on keepin on in the gray space. And yeah, hopefully ride the waves to real success, right, one day?


Leslie Early

Well, I think you're already doing pretty good. I think you're already pretty successful. But yeah, it is interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes in the future. But if people would like to, you know, continue the conversation, because I feel like a lot of people who are listening to this probably have not ever put this into words, but probably have been feeling this way for some time. So if people would like to continue the conversation, how can people get in touch with you?


Stacy Salinas

Yeah, for sure. I'm always available to continue the conversation. And I feel like most people are in the same boat as me. We're all just sitting here trying to figure this out. We've been instructional designers for a few years yet we're not new, but we still consider ourselves new. So you can always reach me on LinkedIn. And it's Stacy with the Y. Salinas and that's where I'm pretty much I'm the most active there. If you decide to join PACT, then come and hang out with us.


Leslie Early

We'll both be there on PACT and Stacy always has her little segment she does every month. Are you planning to stay in that position? Or does that I know the elections or or something coming up soon?


Stacy Salinas

Yeah, they're they're demoting me. I think you could only be on it for a year. But I love this. I'm like, just get my groove and you guys are gonna take it away.


Leslie Early

I love your little segment every month.


Stacy Salinas

Oh, thank you.


Leslie Early

I don't know if that really carries any weight.


Stacy Salinas

I don't know if anybody else picks it up. If they could just be like, Oh, I guess Stacy can do it again. I don't know how that works. But yeah, yeah, it's fun for me, and it aligns really well with the stuff that I do every day. So I really enjoy packed as well. Yeah, and I enjoyed that. You enjoy it. I made my heart happy.


Leslie Early

Alright, so I suddenly got the giggles.


Stacy Salinas

Hey, that's okay.


Leslie Early

I'm trying to end up in the episode. Yeah. This never happened to me before.


Stacy Salinas

I like that I'm bringing my happiness. Okay.


Leslie Early

All right. Well, thank you so much, Stacy. It's been a pleasure. And I I will see you very soon at the next PACT meeting.


Stacy Salinas

You sir. Well, thanks so much for having me. It was such a great conversation. And if you ever want me to come back and ramble again, feel free to invite me.


Leslie Early

Absolutely. I'm putting you on the repeat guestlist right.


Stacy Salinas

Have a good night.


Leslie Early

Yep, you too. Bye bye.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai