How to be in the top 10% student of your Design school.


Chung chou tac with Bumble Bee The Design Sketchbook in Phnom Penh Cambodia 200px

Hello with Bumble Bee from Phnom Penh

When you sign to join a design school, you know you will sleep less… 

Let me show you how I survived my design school. 

More than that, how I boost my motivation
and get my Master degree in Product Design 
with honors. : )

#1 Learn Fast and Happy to get first at your Design School!

A degree in Industrial or Product Design is 3 or 5 years for a Master degree.
It seems long, but also quite short to learn a new job. 

Being a designer is a journey. 

You will learn your whole life long.
You’ll never stop learning, and that’s the beauty of it.
If you are someone curious, you will never get bored!


However, don’t take the 3 or 5 years for granted
as a comfortable timeframe to learn.

I recommend you to start having a professional level
in your 2nd year (yes, already) and prepare your portfolio. 

Your first internship may be in your 3rd year,
and I recommend you to start applying early.

Give yourself less than 2 years to get ready for your portfolio.
Don’t tell yourself: “Oh I got time.”

For example, I am now writing this article in early March.
It means 2020 has been already completed at 25% or 1/4 of the year! 

You may ask yourself what have you already accomplished till now.
It helps to better visualize your timeframe (and how time flies!).

So roll up your sleeves! : )

#2 Don’t skip the Basics of sketching!

learn the basics

In a design school, there are so many new stuffs to learn we become overwhelmed. 

You will have to learn plenty of skills at the same time:

  • Drawing,
  • Innovation,
  • Modeling,
  • Ergonomy,
  • Visual communication,
  • Verbal communication,
  • Digital software

While the school will help you develop your design sense and creativity, they may not always be best at teaching you how to sketch. That’s a reality you may face at your design school. So keep up!

Don’t skip your basics of sketching.
And do not replace 3d software to sketching. Ok?
It would become counterproductive in the long run.

Earlier you master your basics of Product design sketching,
earlier you’ll activate your exponential growth. 

If you skip your basics, you’ll stagnate forever low. 

If you are a beginner, I invite you to download the Designer Starter Kit to make your first steps in perspective. I will then send you a sketching challenge for you to get a confident and professional linework.

#3 Build a remarkable Portfolio selecting your school projects

Elon Musk be extraordinary quote

When I was a student,
I couldn’t do great in all classes. 

I was weak in some of them. I couldn’t give the same motivation in all of them equally. And the projects I struggled the most drained me the most of my energy. : /

I was physically and mentally tired…

It’s no easy to focus as a Student Designer. There is big pressure. You learn to become both creative and productive. You want to become a creative professional who gets things done. 

But, like Elon Musk says anyone one ordinary can become Extraordinary.
That’s what we wanna target during your school time.

One of the productivity TIP to succeed with extraordinary results for your portfolio is to set up your priorities among all your school projects. 

Learn all the things you can.
Listen carefully to your teachers.
There are plenty of things they won’t repeat twice. 

I recommend you to focus on the main projects that resonate the most to you. 

You can’t possibly be great in ALL your projects. (If yes then great!)
Instead of being average in all, make a selection and outperform them!

At first, I felt guilty to do not succeed in all projects.
But the day I started to set up my priorities, I performed much more!
And my ambition also went up!

I would “sacrifice” some projects for others to shine.

Productivity is not only about producing more.
But also bringing up quality projects that stand out. 

I know in theory, you should get great marks in all.
But in reality, you must keep your end goal in mind and practice real-life strategy. 

Always remind your end goal:
Become a great designer with a great portfolio and reach your dream job. 

Trade average for greatness.
What matters in the real world is to become Remarkable. 

In real life, companies don’t look at your grades.
But your Product Design Portfolio.

#4 Create new projects with love

love working with passion in design industry

You know how as creative people, you need passion to succeed.
Passion get you out of your comfort zone and push your limits.

When your heart pumps, you’ll get amazing ideas for your project. You know when you feel excited about an idea and you can’t wait to note or sketch it.

That’s the success mindset. 

It is similar as when a kid got a new toy and can’t wait to unpack it. : P

To make an outstanding portfolio,
I recommend you to create personal projects you feel excitement. 

Look for a passion you have. Maybe you love ice skating, wake boarding, dancing, yoga… and create a new product about it!

Your interviewers will feel you “double-passion” when you will present your project.

For example, I loved sneakers.
But there was no footwear courses in my school. So I learned myself. It took me a while and a lot of sweat.

(By the way, I do have a Sneaker sketching course where I teach you in 4 months what took me more years to learn. If you are interested, leave me a comment or send me an email at [email protected])

But I succeed to create projects for my portfolio and get hired in footwear sport companies such as Airness and Adidas. (Yahoooo!)

Make your portfolio “talk your personnality”.
It is gonna be extra hardwork, but it will be done with plenty of love. 

While other students will all propose the same school projects in their portfolio. You will propose your personal projects and stand out from the crowd!

(Creating your personal work will be time consuming.
It is one more reason to “sacrifice” some of your school projects. So you gotta double-roll your sleeves!)

In few words, you decided to join a school of creativity, because you decided to live your passion for life. To succeed, organize your time and projects to study at your design school with passion too. ; )

Even though some moments may get tough, remember to have fun in the process!



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About The Author


Hello ! My name is Chou-Tac. I am a product designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at [email protected] : )


  • Thank you very much for this post. I’m not actually having a great time at design school due to fatigue and other problems but reading your posts have been as encouraging as uplifting.

    Best regards, from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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