A headshot of a man with dark hair and short-sleeved white floral shirt. He works in UX design in Accenture.
Shane Murphy. Image: Accenture

The road less travelled: A career pivot into UX design

14 Mar 2019

No matter what age you are or what career you’re currently in, there’s always a way to pivot into the industry you’re truly passionate about.

User experience (UX) design is a growing sector, with more industries becoming aware of the need to consider the end user and how design will affect them.

As with all careers, there are a number of routes into UX design for those interested in pursuing such a career. Even for those who are in the middle of a very different track, it’s still possible to pivot towards the creative area of design.

Shane Murphy is a UX/UI designer within Accenture. He has worked as design lead for almost three years, focusing on user-centred design principles and methodologies.

“I’ve worked through the full design cycle from research, concept mapping, low-fi wireframing and mock-ups, to fully functional end-to-end prototypes to assist with user testing,” he said. “Most recently, I have been developing a design system, which is an excellent way to establish your own visual language while leveraging existing design patterns and trends.”

Murphy was working in construction until 2008, when he took a leap of faith and left his job to start a four-year degree in fine art at the National College for Art and Design (NCAD).

After graduating, Murphy began making the difficult transition from art student to professional artist, with some reasonable success. “My work has been exhibited in numerous galleries in Dublin and throughout Ireland, and is held in both public and private collections.”

However, while following his heart’s desire did wonders for his self-esteem, it wasn’t enough for his bank balance. “With a young family and a mortgage to pay, I needed a more secure form of income, but it was important to me that I utilise my rediscovered creativity,” he said.

Seeing the evolution of the digital industry, Murphy took up a one-year honours degree in digital technology, design and innovation with Dublin Institute of Technology (now TU Dublin). After successfully completing the course, he joined Accenture via its graduate programme.

While it sounds smooth, Murphy said there were challenges that made him nervous about his career pivot. “Apart from the ever-present imposter syndrome that most designers suffer [with] from time to time, there were very practical and legitimate concerns initially. Was I too old? Did I have the necessary skills to complete the course? How would I cope financially? And lastly, but more importantly, who would employ me?”

‘It’s essential to continually evolve and expand your skillset’

Now, Murphy is using his creativity and passion for design in an ever-evolving industry, but he continues to ensure that he is continuously learning. “I regularly attend talks and events to maintain a presence within the small but vibrant design community in Dublin. Additionally, I have travelled abroad to attended larger international conferences.”

Murphy also recently completed a Level 9 certificate course in design thinking at Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. “I believe it’s essential to continually evolve and expand your skillset.”

Advice for a career pivot

Murphy admits that he has likely taken the road less travelled and learned a lot of things the hard way. He advises those thinking of switching careers to look at resources and blogposts online, as there are plenty out there.

“Find something that you love doing, do your homework, understand your options and then figure out what you need to do to make it work,” he said. “There are lots of meet-ups happening around Dublin. These are fantastic opportunities to network and meet others who may have similar experiences. Never miss a chance to ask for advice – people are always willing to help.”

Murphy also said his experience as an artist and having his work critiqued by peers meant he had a sense of rigour and critical thinking going into design.

“As a UX designer, acquiring feedback from users or other designers helps you achieve a more robust application or service for your client or customer.”

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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