The Professional Skills Module – why choose a placement? By Lesley Griffiths

Published: Posted on

Work experience is the great undergraduate Catch-22: How do you compete against hundreds of other students for that prized internship without the required skills and experience? And how do you get those elusive qualities without the right type of work experience to draw from?

Of course, you are developing lots of transferrable skills through your studies, but are you able to articulate what you bring to the table without a bit of insight into how those study skills could serve you in the professional workplace?

The College of Arts and Law Professional Skills Module (PSM) is an opportunity to gain quality work experience as part of your degree. A placement offers numerous benefits, enabling you to: apply your existing attributes in a graduate-level role; develop the skills that future employers demand; explore a potential career path; and build your professional network. It also gives you a chance to make a tangible difference to an organisation or community.


“I feel like I have gained valuable work experience, and skills that will boost my CV over the majority of other History graduates.” PSM student


How does it work?

First, select the PSM on your module choice form and complete the quick online registration. Once registered, you’ll receive dedicated briefings on finding a placement, enhancing your CV and cover letters, and analysing your strengths and skills.

Your placement role requires a project that will boost your skillset, knowledge and confidence. You will also develop your application skills and career-focus and gain invaluable reflection skills that will serve you right through your career.

Placements must be a minimum of 70 hours (10 days) and can be taken between June-December – either full or part-time in summer, or part-time around your studies during the autumn semester.

The assessment is based on your reflections and is in two parts – an essay and a presentation element.


“It’s unlikely you will get this level of support elsewhere when applying for internships.” PSM student


How do I get a placement?

There are three main approaches to finding your placement:

  1. Apply for Placements Bank roles: the College of Arts and Law partners with a range of employers from diverse sectors to provide a collection of bespoke opportunities exclusive to PSM students.
  2. Advertised internships: yes, it’s a competitive field, but there are lots of online sources and many larger corporates offer their own schemes. You could be lucky enough to earn while you learn.
  3. A speculative application: there are hundreds of small or medium enterprises (SMEs) that welcome this type of approach and those businesses have several advantages over large companies (in this article from Careers Network, PSM students testify to why you should small businesses a chance). Applying speculatively is not as hard as it sounds and there is lots of help and advice available.


“I’ve learnt more about myself, what I’m good at, and what I might want to do with my future, than I would have in months of school or university.” PSM Student


You have nothing to lose!

If you don’t secure a placement by August, you automatically revert to your existing module choices and you will have taken some valuable first steps in exploring potential careers and sharpening your application skills.

*Look for the Professional Skills Module on your module choice page.

**Enrol on the CAL Professional Skills Module introductory Canvas course and browse module details, placement employers, and student stories.