It’s not ALL about professional development!

Aaisha BibiAaisha Bibi, International Placements, On Placement, Second Year, UK Placements

Many of us go into a placement thinking about all the professional skills we can gain out of working for a year…time management skills, IT skills, leadership skills etc. I also had this mind-set when I first started my placement.

Although all these skills are great and help prepare you for future employment, we often forget about the OTHER skills – the personal skills.

So what are personal skills?

Well, personal skills are the deeper skills. What I mean by this is they are both reflective of you in your role and you in your life. These are the skills that make you an all-rounder, inside the workplace and outside.

Willingness to learn & adapting to learn

Learning is an endless journey, we all have something we need to work on to improve but choosing whether or not we want to improve is often reflective of our mind-set and how open we are to change.

Change is quite a daunting concept but the truth is, workplaces are always changing, from changes in management to introducing a new software or switching up the menu in the canteen. We can’t exactly quit because we don’t like the changes. Instead, we have to adapt and in order to adapt we need to learn.

A willingness to learn demonstrates to the employer that you are more than happy to build on your knowledge so that you can not only meet the change in demands within your workplace but also grow as a person by try something new and diving outside your ‘comfort zone’.


This is all about being your own boss, your own manager, your own executive, your own head (running out of synonyms for ‘boss’).

Self-management is not only a personal skill but also a life skill, it is about using our own initiative to make choices that affect the way you live life.

The simple choices we make such as turning up to work on time, being dressed appropriately or having brushed our teeth (hopefully) is what shows the employer that we are reliable and in control. This allows us to be seen as dependable individuals, thus allowing the employer to give us more responsibility. And with great responsibility…comes great growth.

Here are some tips to help you self-manage:

Act on constructive feedback– don’ take things too personally, after all, if you don’t know your weaknesses, you can’t change them into strengths.
Organise your time– especially if you are working on a long-term project. This ensures you are not wasting precious moments when you could be spending longer on areas that need more attention.
Think for yourself– use your initiative to solve problems for yourself rather than seeking help immediately. This shows you are can work independently and give things a go.

Interpersonal skills

Your interpersonal skills are about how you interact with those around you. It is important to demonstrate to employers that you can work collaboratively as part of a group because if you can do this then chances are you can probably also work well with a wider group of people, such as customers or clients.

Communicating (verbally & non-verbally) – Communicating well is not just about agreeing with your employer, it is also about questioning. Asking questions shows that you are engaged and want to find out more in order to progress further. Questioning also gives you a chance to clarify anything you may not have understood or to input new ideas.

Non-verbal cues such as adjusting your position to listen to the speaker or maintaining contact (the non-challenging kind) are also important ways of showing that you are paying attention and are involved in the discussion.

Other interpersonal skills:

Empathy – express that you care by listening thoughtfully and showing compassion towards your colleagues
Leadership – Take responsibility for tasks to show that you can manage a group of people, and encourage and motivate others to do their best
Positive Attitude- Approach tasks with a positive mind-set, making even the most repetitive tasks slightly more enjoyable.

To sum up… yes, a placement is a chance to learn new professional skills but it is also an opportunity to grow as a person and expand on the individualistic skills that can be applied in all areas of your life.

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