Writing Samples

At times you will be asked to provide writing samples as part of your job or internship application. This is common for journalism or PR internships, or research assistant positions with a think tank or policy journal.

Showcase Your Writing

Below are some tips to help you prepare your writing samples.

1. Demonstrate the type of writing you would do on the job.

Whenever possible, make sure that your samples match the genre of the writing that the position would involve.

  • Journalism: They will ask for “clips”, i.e. actual news articles that have been published in a campus newspaper or other publication.
  • Research: They will want to see in-depth analysis of policy or other issues.
  • PR: Submit press releases that you have drafted from a previous internship or as part of a campus group. If you don’t have any, you can write a press release for an upcoming event or timely piece of news. In this case, make sure you specify that it has not been submitted to media outlets, but is a sample press release.

2. Submit your best writing.

If you are deciding between two papers, and one is better written than the other but your weaker paper is topically more relevant, choose the paper that is better written. The other option is to rewrite the relevant paper to be stronger before you submit it. If you have questions, you may consult with a career counselor.

3. Provide excerpts if samples are long.

Most employers will specify how many pages or how many clips they want. If they don’t, submit 2-5 pages. Writing samples should usually be double-spaced (unless it is a clip). This can be a combination of one or more writing samples.

If you want to use a paper that is longer than 5 pages, provide an excerpt with a notation at the top that tells the employer that it is an excerpt from an x-page paper. Specify the topic, and explain where in the paper this excerpt is from.

4. Polish your writing samples.

Make sure that you do not send in papers that have your professor’s marks on them. Provide clean copies of your writing and revise them as necessary.