Choosing a Writing Sample

Writing samples are a potential employer’s first look into your writing ability, thought process, organizational capability, communication skills, and ability to support an argument from beginning to end.

Unless you are given a specific topic to write on for the application or the organization provides specific instructions on what sort of sample to submit, keep the following guidelines in mind to help you pick a writing sample:

  • Use a paper that you’ve already written for a college class
  • Submit a clean copy with no grades or marks

Major Areas of Importance

Style

  • Consider the type of internship you are applying to and what type of writing they will require you to do.
    • For example, don’t submit a lengthy research paper for an internship that would require you to write briefs and memos.
  • Unless specifically requested, do not submit any creative writing samples.

Content

  • If possible, submit a writing sample with content that is relevant to the internship.
  • However, content is secondary to quality – always pick the stronger piece even if you feel that the content is less relevant.

Length

  • Keep the sample to 2-5 pages.
  • You can use a sample from a longer piece of work – just pull out your best 2-5 page section of work
    • If you decide to do this, be sure that you select excerpts that keep a sense of the argument’s flow through the beginning, middle and end of the original piece.
  • Start the sample with a brief paragraph about the topic of the paper and the class it was written for. This will give the reader a sense of the context

Spelling and Grammar

  • Be sure to double check for spelling and grammar mistakes!
  • We cannot proofread your writing sample before submission because it is representative of your own writing style – you must be able to reproduce the same level of writing if hired.
    • However, we can help you decide which of your writing samples is suitable for the application.