School of Social and Political Science

The 4 Stages of Professional Development


As a postgraduate student, there are many opportunities for your to enhance your professional development.

Below you will find some of the steps you may want to take to help get the most from your professional development journey.


Step 1: Plan your development

One of the most important elements of your professional development is effective planning. Thinking ahead and deliberately structuring your year will help you to make the most of the time and resources available to you.

During the planning stages, take a longer-term view of your professional development. Ask yourself:

  • what skills do I need to succeed?
  • what resources are available to help me?
  • what activities can I take part in to develop skills or experiences?
Step 2: Build your skills

The Student Development Office (SDO) offers support and guidance throughout the year. This includes:

  • skills workshops and seminars
  • Professional Development Awards
  • Coaching

Our skills workshops are delivered by professional trainers and sector-specific practitioners, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Before the skills workshop

  • Think about what you want from the session
  • Think of any questions you want to ask in advance

During the skills workshop

  • Come to the session prepared to participate
  • There are no silly questions

After the session

  • Take 15 minutes to reflect on your learning
  • Engage with other students and the speaker to build your networks
Step 3: Reflect on your progress

After each workshop or event we suggest spending 15 minutes to consider the following:

  • What were the main learning points of the session?
  • What did you learn that was new?
  • How confident are you in using these skills in a professional context?
  • Can you think of a professional situation where you have used these skills? What did you do well? What could you improve for next time?
  • How can you practice this skill moving forwards?
  • In an interview, how could you describe your experience using this skill? Can you think of a practical example?
  • Are there other opportunities to learn more about this skill or to put this skill into practice?

Remember skills don't operate in isolation; they are part of a wider and interconnected set. For example, good presentation skills require confidence in public speaking and time management skills to ensure you are well prepared.

Access the Reflector's Toolkit here

Step 4: Evidence your achievements

Learning the skill is just one part of the process, now you need to tell other people about all the great work you have done.

Being able to evidence your achievements means promoting yourself and all the skills and experiences that you can offer.

Our SPS Professional Development Awards and Certificates are a great way to demonstrate to employers that you are serious about your career development.

Student category
Development Hub