Writing Samples

Occasionally you will be asked to provide writing samples as part of your job or internship application. This is common for journalism or PR internships and research assistant positions with a think tank or policy journal. You may submit these samples via email as attachments with your resume and cover letter, or you may need to paste the samples into online application systems.

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.

  • For a journalism job, submit clips, actual news articles that have been published in a campus newspaper or other publication.
  • For a research position, submit in-depth analysis of policy or other issues.
  • For a job in 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.

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 make it stronger. If you have questions, you may consult with a career advisor.

Provide excerpts if your samples are too long.

Most employers will specify how many pages or how many clips they want. If they don’t, submit 2-5 pages. 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 which section of the paper this excerpt is from.

Polish Your Writing Samples

Make sure that you do not send in papers that have your professor’s comments/corrections on them. Provide clean copies of your writing and revise them as necessary. Unless it is a clip, your writing samples should be double-spaced.