Alisha Murray, a 2020 UX / UI Design graduate from Flatiron School, credits her grandmother for her early interest in fashion. Her love of creativity, however, eventually led her to a career in Product Design.
She shares her journey from Fashion to Product Design below.
An Early Fixation on Fashion
Alisha grew up in the small town of Sabinal, Texas, where she spent a lot of time on her grandparent’s chicken farm. It was there that she was first introduced to the world of fashion through humble beginnings.
“My grandma would make Halloween costumes for me or fix a hole in my grandpa’s pants,” she recalled. “It was always intriguing to me when I saw her pull out her Singer sewing machine and work her magic.”
She got her first sewing machine in high school and went on to earn a degree in Textiles and Apparel, Technical Design from the University of Texas. But after graduating, Alisha said she felt lost.
The hobby that I grew to love turned into a real prospect as a career but it turned into just that. A hobby, a prospect, something I didn’t know how to attain anymore.
After graduating from college, Alisha worked as an Assistant Manager at a department store.
“I loved interacting with people and being active; not always sitting behind a desk. I could be involved in fashion without actually creating it.”
But, after two years, she knew she needed to make a change.
“I just grew tired of the same old day-to-day business,” she explained. “Something was missing. I wasn’t being completely myself and I wasn’t using all of my creative capabilities.”
Pivoting To Product Design
Once deciding to pursue a new career, Alishia began to research her options.
“I wanted to find a new way to express my creative energy […] to figure out what I wanted to do and be for the rest of my life. I looked at trade schools and Masters’s programs.”
Eventually, she stumbled upon the concept of coding bootcamps, which led her to the Flatiron School website and Product Design. She recalls going down a “rabbit hole” learning about UX / UI Product Design, combing the course’s website, and watching videos about the subject.
“I’ve never felt more drawn to something than I did learning about this field of work,” she said. “When I came across Flatiron [School’s] website the answer to what I was looking for was staring back at me, this was it. I immediately signed up for an interview to learn more.”
Her Flatiron School Experience
Alisha applied for and was accepted to Flatiron School’s UI/UX Design course.* But, having been out of the creative field for several years, there were growing pains getting back into the imaginative mindset.
“[It was challenging] learning how to open up my creative mind again. It felt like that aspect of me was lost a little bit,” she said. “I had to retrain myself to have an imagination and cross boundaries and just be open to being scrappy with my work.”
Her classmates eased her transition back into the field, serving as a source of both support and inspiration.
“So many of my classmates had come from different areas of design already, and I was able to learn a lot from them. I learned about different areas of work and they helped me better my skills.”
Overall, she reports having a positive experience during the course and growing as a creative professional.
“Once you start giving it your all, and not worrying about how perfect the work is, you open up to a much larger picture of what can be accomplished.”
Pandemic Job Search
Alisha graduated from Flatiron School in February 2020, a month before the onset of the pandemic. To say that it made her search difficult, she says, would be an understatement.
“Graduating straight into a pandemic was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I quickly started seeing interviews fall off my calendar and companies telling me that they just can’t hire right now. That was the longest 8 months of my life.”
Throughout her difficult job search and the evolving pandemic, her career coach was there to support her and keep her motivated and moving forward.
“My career coach kept reminding me to network and how things can be done virtually. I utilized LinkedIn and reached out to Senior Designers and managers,” she said. “I received so much more insight into product design that I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t ask people about their day-to-day business.”
Despite setbacks, Alisha ultimately accepted a job as a Product Designer at General Motors in November 2020. When we spoke with her in February 2023, she reported that it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience.
“Working as a product designer has been so fulfilling. I am constantly working on different projects. Priorities shift so much that I am never bored and always stay creatively active. I have found the career that fulfills parts of me that I wasn’t using in retail.”
Reflecting On Her Journey
Looking back on her path, Alisha highlights the importance of connecting with others.
“My biggest takeaway is understanding how important networking actually is. Whether that’s just chatting with your colleagues and learning about their career backgrounds or reaching out to a manager at a company of interest,” she said. “You can learn so much from people and being able to compare your interests with a prospective job title is important to know if that’s what you want to do.”
As for her advice for others who may be considering a career change, she recommends leaning into the inherent uncertainty of the process.
“Don’t stay in a job you are not completely happy at, and just have fun finding yourself along the way. Step outside of your comfort zone and be scrappy with your work. We don’t know how far we can push ourselves until we actually try. And then continue to push yourself.”
Ready For A Change, Just Like Alisha Murray?
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Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.
*UI/UX Design course is no longer available. For students interested in this course of study, visit the Product Design course page to learn more.