From the stage to the lecture theatre to UX designer
Having completed the Leaving Certificate in 2003, Marty Smyth had a keen interest in Art & Design and was accepted into various programmes. However, with a passion and talent for music, Marty pressed pause on his educational journey to follow his dream of a career as a musician.
Marty carved an impressive name for himself in the music industry. He became a well-known personality in bars, local festivals, theatres and as a member of the Irish rock band ‘In Their Thousands’. He was kept busy with gigs and travelling the world for the years that followed.
“I am delighted to have enjoyed success with my music but, in my early 30’s I decided to return to education with a view to finding a way to subsidise my musical interests. I was always designing for music on social media, and I enjoyed it, so I contacted Nollaig Crombie, Head of Department of Creative Media and Design at ATU Donegal to discuss my options”, says Marty.
“I sent in a portfolio, and I was accepted onto the Graphic & Digital Design programme. It was daunting at first, but everyone was really helpful. There was a great balance of mature students on the programme, and I enjoyed it from the start.”
“The programme was amazing. There are some great lecturers on the programme with vibrant teaching methods. The small class size was great for getting to know people and as a group, we all supported each other and critiqued each other’s work.”
The Graphic & Digital Design programme at ATU gives students a chance to turn artistic talents into successful creative careers, and the small studio-based classes have the latest technologies to support design-led creative thinking and the acquisition of core business skills.
“What I loved most about the programme was that it gave you little windows into different sides of design and I got a taste of what each had to offer. It set me up for working in the industry because in my role today, I use a cross section of design skills.”
Marty set himself the challenge of obtaining a first-class honours degree and he was delighted to graduate with his first. Upon graduation, Marty posted on LinkedIn about his achievements and was contacted by a manager in Bord Gáis Energy who were looking to hire a new UX designer for their digital team. Unsure at first as UX design was only a small part of his degree, Marty was encouraged by the manager that with basic skills he would learn everything else when he joined the company.
“I now work full-time with Bord Gáis Energy as a UX designer. I’m really enjoying the role and I work remotely which is fantastic. I live in Malin, and I think it’s a great opportunity that people in rural parts of Donegal can apply for jobs and pursuit careers remotely with larger city-based companies. My skill set from the programme allows me to excel in my role and adapt to new challenges. I recently covered a research post within the company, and I am now back working in UX Design on a new mobile app.”
“I am part of a large digital team with colleagues based here in Ireland and offshore in a number of different locations. We learn from each other. I am moving to London soon and I will continue to work remotely from my new location. I have enjoyed the experience of returning to education, the opportunities it has created for me and I look forward to what the next chapter brings”, concludes Marty.
There’s no doubt that Marty’s personality and passion for music and design will present an abundance of opportunities in the future!