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What should I do to have a better chance of going down the product design path in college/career?

I am currently a sophomore in high school and want to pursue in the career of product design.

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Subject: Career question for you

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Minji’s Answer

Hello Bangzishu,

I'm glad to hear that you are interested in pursuing a career in product design. There are many design schools and bootcamps available for you to explore. It's important to research your options and find a program that aligns with your interests and goals in product design.

I highly recommend getting a formal education in product design to build a strong foundation of skills and knowledge. Once you have completed your education, focus on building a portfolio of your work. Having a strong portfolio is crucial when it comes to applying for design jobs and attending interviews.

I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. I hope this information is helpful to you.
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Marlyce’s Answer

You're fortunate to be residing in New York and still attending school! Use this to your advantage by reaching out to your career advisor or student counselor - they can provide invaluable guidance. Consider exploring opportunities like job shadowing or work-study programs. This will give you a firsthand experience of different fields, helping you identify what you enjoy and what you don't. Remember, you're still young. It's completely okay to switch fields if you find that your initial choice isn't the right fit. As you plan for your higher education, strive to avoid college or vocational school loans. Instead, apply for grants and scholarships to finance your studies. Kudos to you for planning ahead, and best of luck with your career exploration!
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Jenny’s Answer

You can look at articles on the internet or in the library to gather ideas or gain a better understanding of the product design route that you prefer.
Thank you comment icon Hi Jenny, can you direct Bangzishu to specific resources related to product design that would be helpful? Sharyn Grose, Admin
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Dr. Hanan’s Answer

You can begin by partaking in online intro-courses that teach you the basics. In practice, find opportunities in your department or the community where you can put your learning into practice. A great way to gain real life experience is connecting with your network to find internship opportunities. As an intern, a company expects to bring you on, teach you their ways of working and utilize your knowledge to move their work portfolio forward.
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Monica’s Answer

Hi Bangzishu!

First off, let me start by saying how great it is to see another person showing interest in product design! It's such a reward career full of mental challenges and collaboration. Entering the field of product or ux/ui design requires a combination of education, skills development, and practical experience. Here are some suggestions that may help in your pursue to have a product design career:

1. Educational Background: Consider enrolling in a program related to ux/ui design, interaction design, product design, industrial design, or a closely related field. Many colleges offer bachelor's degrees in these types of design programs. You might benefit from a college that has a focus around technology as well.

2. Build a Strong Portfolio: This is one of the most important things to work on while you're in college, post-college, and while already working. If you create a diverse portfolio, you can showcase your skills and creativity. Consider developing a portfolio that includes a variety of projects for multiple form factors (desktop web, mobile web, phone apps, tablet apps, etc.) Make sure to include sketches, wireframes, digital renderings, and prototypes to demonstrate your design process and the range of your abilities.
Your projects do not have to be school or work projects, they can also be passion projects as well! These can demonstrate your passion and commitment to design beyond academic requirements.

3. Gain Relevant Skills: Become proficient in industry-standard design software such as Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, Figma, or other tools. You should also learn about sprints and any other project management processes that are used in teams.

4. Networking and Internships: Networking is important for any industry. Attend conferences, workshops, and local design events to connect with professionals in the field. Networking also applies to the digital world – such as on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way to find other portfolios and project as well so you can ask other designers questions or leave them feedback. Finally, consider seeking internships. Apply for internships or co-op opportunities with design firms, companies, or startups. Real-world experience can significantly enhance your skills and provide insights into the industry.

5. Stay Informed: Stay updated on the latest design trends, technologies, and innovations. This knowledge will make you more competitive and adaptable in the dynamic field of product design.

6. Build Soft Skills: Develop strong communication skills, both written and verbal. Being able to articulate your design ideas and collaborate effectively is essential. Also, develop your problem-solving skills to approach design issues creatively. Product design often involves overcoming challenges.

7. Continued Learning: Stay curious. Cultivate a mindset of continuous learning. The design field evolves, and staying curious will help you adapt to new technologies and methodologies.

Remember, breaking into the field of ux/ui or product design requires a combination of education, practical experience, and a strong portfolio. Tailor your approach to align with your interests and strengths, and don't be afraid to take on challenges and learn from each experience. Good luck! ☘️
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Derek’s Answer

Hey Bangzishu -

Being a sophomore you have a lot of room to grow and understand what it will take to become a product designer in the future. The first step is to look at what type of product you are most interested in creating. Is it footwear, apparel, toys, machinery, etc? Each one of these requires different skill sets, for I have experience in footwear and apparel which requires knowledge of textiles, materials, and sourcing. I do not know much about other areas but I would assume you may need more of an engineering background for machinery or even coding for AI. If you're looking for a place to start, create a LinkedIn account and search Product Managers and Assistant Product Line managers to start connecting with those individuals, review the articles they post, and even reach out to ask them specific questions. This could be a great first step since you are still in high school. Best of luck and feel free to reach out with any additional questions!

Derek
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David E.’s Answer

Dear Bangzishu,

Your passion is in the creative realm. Even more so it requires that you have developed an ability to make your ideas and concepts into forms, images, and words that others can review and understand. You should be sure to be involved with art classes that involve different types of media (drawing, sculpting, clay, etc.). Remember that products of different types will also have mechanical limits and design requirements, thus, it won't hurt to have a good understanding of mathematics, kinesiology, and physics.

Colleges like to see that applicants have shown some interest in their major while still in high school. If possible, see if you can work in a creative field either over the summer or during the school year. Be creative when it comes to this -- you could work for an artist or in an art store; you could work for a boat builder who hand-builds watercraft; you could work for a designer (any type of designer), etc.

Good luck!
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