At times you may be asked to submit a writing sample as part of your job or internship application and/or graduate school application. For example, opportunities that cite written communication as a required qualification such as journalism, public relations, research assistant, think tank, policy-related careers, among others.

The goal of a writing sample is to showcase your ability to write professionally, clearly, and succinctly. When faced with selecting a sample, consider the following: 

  • Think about the writing style you would use at your job/internship and, whenever possible, choose a sample similar to the genre of writing the position will involve.
  • It’s critical that your sample features your strong written communication skills even if that means selecting a section that is irrelevant. 
  • Another option is to strengthen the writing of the relevant sample by rewriting it; only pursue this option if absolutely necessary and if there’s time to have it reviewed by a peer, staff, or faculty member. 
  • If your sample is a section within a lengthy paper, submit 2-5 pages if the employer did not specify length. When submitting an excerpt, make sure to clarify the topic and indicate where this excerpt is from. 
  • Writing samples should be double-spaced and can be a combination of one or more writing samples. 
  • Be sure to proofread and revise to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors in your writing. Also, do not forget to add your name to the document.