Writing Samples – What should I use?

Posted on July 18, 2012. Filed under: Career, College, Internship | Tags: , , , , |

Not all internship sites will ask for writing samples, but when they do take it seriously!  Writing is an important part of most all internship positions.  From professional email correspondence to executive summaries of important documents, you will likely be asked to write something as part of your internship.

Cover letters are writing samples, too.  Potential employers use these to evaluate your writing skills, your style and tone, and your ability to communicate effectively.

When selecting a writing sample be sure to follow any instructions provided as part of the application.  If you do not, they will learn something about you as an employee – you don’t follow directions.

If they do not specify a topic for the sample, select a topic that is somewhat related to the internship itself.

Here are some writing sample ideas:

  • Class paper or project that is not marked up by the instructor.  These can be in the form of a literature review or a critique of another work.
  • Research paper that is on, or not too far off, topic. If you are providing an excerpt from a longer work, be sure to include a summary of the paper at the top of the first page.
  • An article that was previously published.  This could be from a club newsletter or a former employer’s website.  Be sure to provide the context.
  • If appropriate, you can provide an opinion piece or blog that is on topic.  However, be careful when providing your opinion, and only do so if that type of writing is required of the position.
  • Write an original essay using the position posting as a guide as to topic and writing style.
  • If citing other sources, always include a reference list.

Tip: Always have your paper proofread by a professor or a friend before submitting.

So, be prepared to do a lot of writing at your internship.  Quality interns learn to take constructive criticism and become better writers in the process.  You may even have an opportunity for your work to be published, which is a great addition to your professional portfolio!

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One Response to “Writing Samples – What should I use?”

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If you’re on LinkedIn, and you definitely should be if you’re looking for a job, you can add a Publications section to your profile. If you’ve had anything published online, including a blog post, it’s an excellent place to include it. Even if an employer hasn’t asked for a writing sample, they can see evidence of your expertise and/or interest in a specific area.

All these small things tend to add when it comes to a competitive hiring situation.


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