CDM Skills & Testimonials

Graduate Skills

The main aim of the Career Development Module is for you to develop the 4 main graduate skills within your 70 hours of volunteering. You should apply these to your module assessments and also be able to articulate these for future success (in job interviews, applications, etc).

These are the main skills that employers have highlighted they look for in graduates:

  1. Planning & Organising: Set targets, plan actions and manage time and resources effectively to achieve personal and organisational goals.
  2. Communication: Use speech, writing, non-verbal methods and technology effectively to present and exchange opinions, ideas and information.
  3. Team Working: Build effective working relationships and collaborate with other people.
  4. Personal Enterprise: Use creative problem solving to respond to opportunities to improve own performance and work processes.

During the module, students will be required to develop essential skills (planning & organising, communication, team-working, & personal enterprise) and be able to self-reflect upon and communicate exactly how they have developed these through their volunteering.

  1. During the initial stages of your volunteering you should set personal and professional goals and targets you wish to achieve. These should tie in with your development of the graduate skills and should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).
  2. Communication of your development of these graduate skills should be made through regular meetings with your assigned Placement Supervisor. This is where you will update them as to your progress in tasks, how you have developed certain skills, how well you have developed them, as well as any obstacles you have faced and how you have overcome these.
  3. Self-reflection of this will be achieved through further discussion of these goals and advancements during each regular Placement Supervisor Meeting, where you will review your progress in your set tasks and skills.


Below you can see some testimonials from students who have undertaken the Career Development Module. We have included a selection of different placements to show the variety of opportunities there are when undertaking the module. From a Rep, to a committee member of one of Student Media branches, have a read to see what their experiences were like undertaking the module with us.

Aimee Philipson, Stage 3, Combined Honours,
St. Oswald's Hospice

Describe your placement
My volunteer placement was in the Communications Office at St Oswald's Hospice, in Gosforth, which provides specialist care for local adults, young people and children. I was initially attracted to the placement as I wanted to gain some experience in PR and communications and I thought that St Oswald's was a fantastic charity and although it was great for my professional development, it was also a rewarding experience personally as I got to meet some wonderful people and make a real difference. At first I volunteered for one morning a week, doing internal communications jobs such as designing and distributing leaflets and posters, photocopying and writing press releases but as the placement continued I was given my own projects such as being responsible for monitoring press coverage of the Hospice and keeping a detailed file of its value each week. I have also got involved in the publicity and management of fundraising events and look forward to continue doing so in the future as I loved it so much I continued volunteering after my placement had ended!

What skills did you develop?
I developed my communication skills as I learned new writing styles such as press release writing and effectual leaflet design, however I also improved my range of oral communication styles too as I needed to understand how to communicate with a range of stakeholders. It was great to work in a small team too as everyone had different responsibilities, including me, and it was interesting to see different styles of working. My teamworking skills have definitely developed through working on the fundraising events as I have been able to observe effective delegation, management and communication which will be useful for my future career aspirations.

What advice would you give to other students?
Do something you're interested in and you will get more out of it!

Phil Whittington, Stage 3, English Language
Marketing Officer, Newcastle Student Radio

Describe your placement
My placement was Head of Marketing for Newcastle Student Radio (NSR) in Newcastle University Student Union. I had already applied for this position before I knew about CDM, so finding out I could use something I was passionate about towards my degree was a massive help in allowing me to commit the time I wanted to NSR. Throughout the year, I have overseen the creation of an entirely new student radio. A lot of reputation was lost during the refurbishment of the Student Union and so a new logo, new website and new links have allowed NSR’s profile to be raised dramatically. Promoting different NSR events and gigs throughout the year was really fun too!

What skills did you develop?
I certainly developed my leadership skills during the placement; when it came to promoting events I assigned people tasks which was a position that I enjoyed. I wasn’t used to being a team leader before but having taken a leadership course in the previous summer; I went into it with confidence. This is a rather strange skill to have developed from a placement in marketing but I have definitely developed a technical knowledge over the past year. After being in the studio quite frequently, I have come to learn what different things do. Before this placement I only knew how to play a song or how to talk into the microphone! One of the greater skills that I have enhanced over the past year is communication. As I mentioned before, new links have allowed the station to grow and I have learnt how to initialise and maintain relationships with different parties, for the greater good of the station. Finally, teamwork is an employable skill that I have developed as a result of my placement. There are a few other NSR committee members who have taken the CDM module, and so we have worked together as a team, not only with radio issues, but also towards any CDM related matters. As we all have the same goals, working together made everything a lot easier.

What advice would you give to other students?
I believe the key to having a successful CDM is communication; whether it’s volunteering or working elsewhere, continuous dialogue between all parties involved will help you learn and adjust the things you are doing right and wrong. It also shows your desire and commitments to the placement, which may not come across if you don’t talk to people and look to improve. I would definitely recommend you take this as one of your options for next year; even if you don’t have a role lined up, CDM will help you find one. You get to have a much more hands on approach towards something you are interested in, and it familiarises yourself to a working environment that is awaiting you in the future. It sounds quite cheesy but as you have just read, it has definitely helped me!

Sarah Hodgson, Stage 3, Media, Communication and Cultural Studies
Elected Liberation Officer

Describe your placement
Towards the end of my second year of study, I was elected as one of Newcastle University Students’ Union Liberation Officers.. I officially began working in this role at the start of my final year of study, bearing in mind the workload of both my academic work and volunteer work at the Student Union, I decided that to get the best out of both these experiences I would use this as my placement for the Career Development module; not only did this allow me to gain academic credit for all my work, it also allowed me to dedicate more of my time to my position. Personally, I feel that the CDM allowed me to put extra time and effort into being a Liberation Officer, whilst at the same time ensuring that I still had time to commit to my university workload.

What skills did you develop?
Throughout the CDM and my role as an Officer, I have gained and increased several vital skills, such as organisation, communication, teamwork and leadership. I believe that not only have these skills enhanced the quality of my work for the Student Union, but I have also been able to transfer these skills to other elements of my life, particularly in my academic work, predominately my dissertation, but also in my part-time job. As well as this, I have more confidence in myself, and along with my new set of skills, I believe this will stand me in good stead when applying for graduate jobs and attending interviews. Already, I am seeing the benefits, as recently I gained a place on a BBC Journalism mentor scheme, and one of the main reasons I was successful in this was because of my work as an Officer.

What advice would you give to other students?
The best advice that I can offer to students either taking the career development module, or considering it, is to put everything you have into the module. Whilst at first it may seem easy, you will only get what you put into it, so in order to be successful it is important to really work hard and to be passionate about what you are doing.