I quit my job — to do a self-learning bootcamp

Photo by Meiying Ng on Unsplash

It only took the span of 17 days (the three day weekend and the two weeks after I put in my resignation notice), for me to uproot all that I was familiar with.

The only life that I’ve known — my first job out of college, my first profession that I’ve kept at for the past half decade, I wanted it to screech to a stop.

I wanted myself to pause.

Why I quit

Three months ago, I wrote about what I wanted as a twentysomething who wanted to pursue something more than just a job, something more purposeful and fulfilling. Something more aligned with my views on life and views on work.

Marketing was a great background to have, yet felt not enough. After experimenting along the spectrum of hygiene product content consultant to wedding video editor (I know, I casted my net real wide), I noticed that what felt the most in-tune were writing and course design. Writing was something that I already knew I enjoyed, and course design was a recently discovered field that I was affectionately curious about.

I tried to create that experience at my company. I petitioned to create an instructional designer role; they were very supportive but due to natural constraints, it seemed like it would take another six to nine months before I could dive deep into creating actual learning resources.

Additionally at work, I was spending most of my time in a tangibly related role that was a lot more logistical and granular compared to the marketing role I was hired for. This was a field that I neither signed up for nor wanted to go towards.

Essentially, I spent days acquiring skills, but not the skills I wanted.

So I quit my job.

What’s next

I quit without having anything concrete lined up, like another marketing job or even an established bootcamp that guarantees graduation rates and placement into other companies.

All I had lined up was a self-created curriculum.

There’s a certain freedom in that.

The alternative scenario of searching for jobs while being full-time would have kept me in the the boxed mindset of “I need a job no matter what”, and most likely have led to either:

  • another marketing job in which I don’t want to be in
  • a very low entry level instructional design job in which I’ll have no say

I’d be scrambling to just end up in a similar situation like before, a position I knew I didn’t want to be in.

I would’ve gotten a job for the sake of having a normal regular job like everyone else.

This self-learning bootcamp was created for very specific reasons, so I can:

— change career paths.

— explore my options.

— invest in my future self.

The bootcamp in itself

Inspired by this TED talk on how our personal projects can remake who we are, this learning bootcamp encompasses intrinsically interesting projects.

I firmly believe that projects are essential to learning because it enables practice and doing.

“ Learning is not memorizing information. Real learning happens when you take action. Taking action gives you feedback from real life experience, which gives you new data to reflect on that feeds onto your work.” — leverage info overload as creative fuel.

Developing projects has enabled me to better plan how to take action on the skills I want to learn, while also building a portfolio piece for feedback and reflection.

Curriculum design

How I created my learning plan:

  1. Model Nat’s deliberate practice roadmap
  • Finding a teacher or substitutes → I reached out to curriculum developers at course platforms like Udacity and learnings hubs like Stanford to get advice on best practices
  • Assess your limits → I wrote down what has historically felt comfortable for me to do in terms of writing and design
  • Set a SMART goal → I included daily and weekly goals that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bounded
  • Practice with focus → I blocked out consistent chunks of time on my schedule to do work and use the 25 minute pomodoro technique to retain focus, like what I’m doing now as I write this
  • Get feedback → I got feedback from teacher friends as well as curriulum designers mentioned earlier for this learning plan. For writing and course creation, I’ll get feedback from both the audience and mentors

2. Create projects to learn through

  • Using the design thinking model, I generated a list of projects I could work on (ranging from ones I knew I could make happen to moonshot ideal ones). After focusing on the quantity of ideas first, then I chose a couple based on the quality of alignment between the skills I wanted to learn
  • Inspired by Design Your Life: “You choose better when you have a lot of good ideas to choose from; you never choose your first solution to any problem
  • For writing, my projects focus on getting through the writing process, from first drafts to completed posts (ex: first week is dedicated to the 750 words per day challenge). For course creation, my projects focus on learning about effective teaching and working with people I admire to create courses (ex: first week is dedicated to finishing the outline for a course on social productivity)

3. Revise with belief updates

  • This curriculum is a living, breathing document; it’s constantly influenced by series of interactions from field trips. These field trips take shape in forms of interviews, shadowing, and conversations with other self-educators.
  • As I work through the projects in real time, it also gives me a more realistic view and feedback on the direction I’m continuing towards, and continously updating

This whole curriculum creation follows the learning model of action, feedback, reflection.


What I hope to achieve:

  • A more robust career direction
  • Full self-agency
  • Rapid skills progress
  • A portfolio of writing and instructional design pieces

I’ll chronicle my journey here, of finally blurring the lines between work and play.