Education/Training, TPC Alumni
By Kelly Thompson
Kristen Schmidt, an e-learning Instructional Designer, is currently working for Trinity Health, in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Trinity Health is a company that will help out the less fortunate with things such as health insurance, and they own and manage several health care facilities, out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Kristen graduated from Ferris State University in 2005, with a bachelor’s degree in Technical and Professional Communication, although that wasn’t exactly how she planned it from the start.
Originally when she came to FSU, Kristen’s plan was to become a dental hygienist, but after taking some classes toward the degree, realized it was not for her. Soon after, she started taking some advertising classes. Later, she met Sandy Balkema, discussed the Technical and Professional Communication program with her, and decided it would be a good fit for her, considering her strength in writing.
The track Kristen chose for her major was a non-traditional one. Kristen realized she was into the instructional design and training aspect of technical communication. So, she took more classes in printing and publishing software, such as Adobe InDesign and Adobe Flash.
Right before she graduated, she found a job at Manatron, a company in Portage, Michigan. After graduation, she worked there for about ten months, strictly doing technical writing.
She then decided it was time to further her education and work on a master’s degree in Technical and Communication from Lawrence Technical University. She received her master’s degree there in 2008. It was during her time at Lawrence Tech that she met her current boss who helped her obtain the job she has today at Trinity Health.
At Trinity Health, Kristen is in charge of designing the e-learning courses for computer applications. Her work there is exactly the work she was hoping to be doing after college. If there are any new applications, such as a new email system, that the company employees need to be trained to use, Kristen will design a web-based training course.
She says that most days there are meetings throughout the day where they focus on their needs analysis. It is during those meetings they discuss the who, what, when, where, why, and how of her projects. Every day she uses programs such as Adobe InDesign and Captivate. She mentioned that taking the page layout software classes at FSU were a huge help to her success as an Instructional Designer today. The course covered software called Aldus PageMaker, but she says the program is essentially still the same as InDesign. Captivate is another program Kristen uses. She described Captivate as a “souped up Power Point,” which allows her to create training courses without the Internet coding.
She said that, because of her familiarity with the computer programs from her FSU classes, she had little on-the-job training to complete. Instead her training has been more about what the company does and getting a feel for the company environment.
Currently, Kristen is also teaching night classes at Lawrence Technical University where she teaches English composition and technical writing. She alternates between the two classes each semester.
Her advice for future instructional designers is to get the training done in college. Her classes in programs, such as InDesign, were extremely helpful, and she says they were much cheaper as a college student. She said that a training course in software such as InDesign can cost up to a few thousand dollars outside of school settings. She mentions getting to know the computer design programs as being the biggest help.