Your favorite/recommended exercises throughout the Design Process

Hello and good afternoon!

I have a question for all of you who have gone through the design process (Empathize → Define → Ideate → Prototype → Test) and would love some input…

I’m currently a bootcamp student who has finished up the “first phase” of my coursework. As I move ahead I’ll be working on capstone projects to build a portfolio which I’ll ultimately use to apply for jobs.

While doing so I want to push myself and expose myself to as many different tactics/methods of completing the “Design Process.” I feel this will be good for my growth as well as stand out within my portfolio as opposed to having the same sequence for all projects (research, interview, cards sort, etc…)

SO, as experienced designers working through the Design Process yourselves, what are some of your “Go-To’s” and favorites in each step? Do you have any that work better when used with another corresponding exercise? Are there any that I should DEFINITELY have a good handle on? Any I should avoid? And lastly, are there any methods that work better for a team of 1 doing all the work with a limited budget themselves?

I have a fairly strong list of exercises to use as I work but wanted to hear from the professionals who have had hands on experience and may be able to offer some insight.

Thanks in advance!