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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Writing Sample Paradox

You want an internship to get writing samples, but to get an internship you writing samples!?! Many students, myself included, came across this writing sample paradox when seeking out internships for the first time.

For almost all internships, you need to submit a minimum of two writing samples, although to get these writing samples, it is believed that you needed to have a previous internship. This can make the search to getting your dream internship long and intensive. If however having standout writing samples is the ultimate key to gaining that dream internship then you better figure out a way to get some writing experience.

Even though I have now done multiple internships and have countless writing samples, I am constantly looking for ways to get my writing published in publications more aligned with what I want to do in my future career. In my constant search for the “ultimate” writing samples I have come across various companies and resources that get your writing published.

Check out the resources and tips below to help get your first (or thousandth) writing sample:
  1. Seek out start up publications – Many smaller start-up print or media publications, for example online magazines, need content posted to their website but they don’t have the funds to pay staff. Offer your services of writing and your advice or expertise on a topic. Start up companies such as XploreU rely on “interns” or brand ambassadors to write the majority of the content for their website. This offers students a chance to gain writing experience and share their ideas.

  2. Start up companies – Many start up companies need people to contribute to their online media; this is where you and your writing skills come into play. Seek out companies such as online travel and tourism websites and retail or fashion websites, where the content is constantly changing, thus your services of writing content for the website is valuable to the company.

  3. Create a blog – Creating a blog is one way that allows you to voice your opinions and showcase your writing talents. Having a blog is also a great place to house other writing and creative work that you have done. Your blog will soon double as a reference for potential employers to visit when researching you and your skills. If you don't have the energy to start a blog volunteer to be a guest blogger. This blog or the Minnesota Student PR Blog are both good options.

  4. Take advantage of social media- Social media enables you to have a voice; don’t underestimate this voice. Start conversations with professionals in the field that you are looking to work in. Explain that you are trying to get advice on writing samples and to gain experience. Many companies and/or professionals need unpaid help, solicit your valuable services to these professionals. It is a win-win situation in the end; they gain help with their work and you gain writing samples and valuable work experience.

  5. Write Letters to the editor or opinion pieces- Be proactive and engage in conversation whenever possible. The whole idea is to pitch yourself, so come up with good ideas and pitch yourself, eventually a story you have is destined to get picked up.
The ultimate key to gaining writing experience is being persistent; make sure that you do not give up. It will be work but it will most likely result in huge benefits to your professional career.

Checkout this website for more tips and general templates:

Brittany Frascht
University of Minnesota
Jour 3279
Blog Assignment