University students are generally aware that they are preparing for professional working life, and they use this as one focus for their learning. We have carried out interviews with over 500 students, in separate projects in Australia and Sweden, in a variety of discipline areas (including statistics). Based on these, we have developed a model of professional learning that incorporates students' views of learning for their profession, the nature of knowledge in their discipline, and their development of professional identity. We describe this model and illustrate it by presenting case studies of two students undertaking a degree in mathematical sciences, majoring in statistics. The model gives us a framework for investigating pedagogical approaches. It allows us to examine how knowledge is presented in our courses, to analyse students' class and assessment responses and to better support students' professional formation.