Best Works Portfolio
Your three writing samples comprise a best works portfolio. This means you choose three of your best pieces of writing, but then you edit, edit, edit to make them perfect. The pieces are not meant to represent who you were when you first wrote them, so review and revise them now to make sure they showcase impeccable writing skills.
Possible Writing Samples
You may have writing samples from past internships, jobs or extracurriculars. Remember that professional writing is more than published pieces. Your sample could be an internal memo, a professional letter or email to an organization, or an internal training manual. If you don’t have samples from prior work experience, you have plenty of material from coursework, especially any course in communications or if you took English 3304or English 3305.
Your three pieces should demonstrate variety: variety of genres, variety of styles, variety of contexts and variety of purposes. They should also demonstrate the kinds of skills you want to contribute to a workplace during your internship. Here are some possible different genres to choose:
- press release
- feature news article
- business letter
- blog post
- marketing web copy
- social media campaign plan (complete with posting schedule, sample posts and explanation of the reasons for particular choices of platform, word choices and timelines)
- other marketing materials
- brief course paper (consider choosing a section of no more than approximately three pages); avoid papers about poetry, as they tell employers little about your ability to do workplace writing
Normally, a cover letter makes the case that you are qualified to perform the duties listed in a particular job description. The cover letter for the Minor in Professional Writing is somewhat different because you will be placed in a specific job after your interview. Your cover letter will instead describe your writing samples, analyze the writing skills they demonstrate and, by connecting the skills in your samples to the skills needed in the internship posting, persuade your audience that you are prepared to succeed in a writing internship.
Address your cover letter to Dr. Lindsay A. Martin, Coordinator, Minor in Professional Writing. Format your cover letter as a formal business letter with a heading or letterhead, date, inside address, salutation, body, complimentary close and your signature. (You may type a signature in cursive font if you cannot print, sign and scan the document.)
Cover letters follow a standard format:
Brief introductory paragraph
- Explain your purpose: To apply for placement in a capstone internship in the minor in professional writing.
- Give a brief explanation of your interest. How will the internship (which could be in any number of fields) connect with your larger career goals? Do not talk endlessly about what you will get out of the internship. Cover letters are designed to show enthusiasm for an industry or field but—more importantly—to convince employers of how much you have to offer them.
- End on a clear statement summarizing the writing skills and soft skills you will bring to the workplace.
Tip: Great cover letters project into the future and demonstrate that the writer is already envisioning translating his or her experience into different tasks at the new job.
Body paragraphs (this is the bulk of the cover letter). Discuss each writing sample by addressing the following:
- What is the purpose of this piece?
- If you wrote the piece for a course, describe that context. If the piece was written as part of a group project, what role did you play in the collaboration?
- What particular writing skills does it showcase? Does it demonstrate skills in working with a particular situation? A particular genre? A particular tone?
A resume aims to persuade your reader that your qualifications, skills, experiences and achievements are both impressive and directly related to the job you want. Your resume for the professional writing minor internship should highlight writing skills and writing-related achievements. For ideas, see this document on Identifying Your Accomplishments from Arts and Sciences Career Services.
The most basic, essential components of a resume are the following. Here is an example resume to consult for formatting contact information, education and work experience. Optional sections of a resume suited for a professional writing internship might include:
- Consider adding this if you have limited writing-related work experience.
- List each course just like a job, with location and dates on the right side of the page.
- Include multiple bullet points for each course to emphasize written work you produced during the course.
Relevant Experience and Other Experience
- Be creative with your heading titles if necessary—“Work Experience” and “Volunteer Experience” are not always the best way to show how qualified you are.
- If only some of your work or volunteering experience is writing-related, consider using headings like “Relevant Experience,” “Writing Experience,” “Editing Experience” or “Other Work Experience.”
This cover letter is exemplary in its discussion of writing samples. Notice how the author does an excellent job providing detail about the context for each sample, and then elaborating about specific writing skills that each sample showcases. The samples also cover a range of writing styles, and the cover letter highlights this versatility as a strength the applicant brings to the workplace.
This resume is exemplary because each bullet-point offers substantial detail and follows through to demonstrate the result and achievement of each task. This sample cover letter also does a very good job of discussing the skills that writing samples showcase. Notice how the writer even addresses how the third writing sample required specific creative writing skills for a successful book review, which is quite different from the skills required to produce each of the feature stories.
Have everything ready? Submit your application!