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Thread: Tips on submitting a writing sample

  1. #1
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    Tips on submitting a writing sample

    I have an interview with an orgainzation that does research in transportation planning. They have requested that I submit a writing sample before I meet with them.

    Having recently graduated, my writing samples are mainly papers I have written for planning classes. Here is the issue:

    One of the papers I wrote for a transportation planning class deals directly an issue the organization is involved with. In fact, I referenced one of their proposals in my paper. While I would love to use that paper as the writing sample, my concern is that (1) I dont want to seem like I am trying too hard to impress them, (2) Since it is a topic they are familiar with, any small error (whether it be figures slightly off, or an opinion they might not agree with) would likely be glaring. I received a good grade on the paper from a professor who is very in touch with the field, but I dont know if that necessarily means that it is good enough to submit as a writing sample. I am in the process of going over it again to double check everything, but I am not sure if that is enough.

    Also, it may be worth pointing out that in my cover letter I mentioned the fact that I referenced one of the proposals in a paper I wrote. I dont think that they necessarily expect to read it, though, as they only asked for something that is representative of my writing ability, and didnt specify a topic.

    My other potential writing samples involve planning issues as well, but not in the field of transportation.


    What do you think?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nyuhokie View post
    I have an interview with an orgainzation that does research in transportation planning. They have requested that I submit a writing sample before I meet with them.

    Having recently graduated, my writing samples are mainly papers I have written for planning classes. Here is the issue:

    One of the papers I wrote for a transportation planning class deals directly an issue the organization is involved with. In fact, I referenced one of their proposals in my paper. While I would love to use that paper as the writing sample, my concern is that (1) I dont want to seem like I am trying too hard to impress them, (2) Since it is a topic they are familiar with, any small error (whether it be figures slightly off, or an opinion they might not agree with) would likely be glaring. I received a good grade on the paper from a professor who is very in touch with the field, but I dont know if that necessarily means that it is good enough to submit as a writing sample. I am in the process of going over it again to double check everything, but I am not sure if that is enough.

    Also, it may be worth pointing out that in my cover letter I mentioned the fact that I referenced one of the proposals in a paper I wrote. I dont think that they necessarily expect to read it, though, as they only asked for something that is representative of my writing ability, and didnt specify a topic.

    My other potential writing samples involve planning issues as well, but not in the field of transportation.


    What do you think?
    Select something else. They are likely wanting to know if you can string words together into a coherent sentence, and providing something too near and dear to their hearts will be a distraction.

    I used to churn out single-page staff reports on SLU cases. Location map, perhaps a photo, bullet points. Send them something like that.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Electronic Format

    Just some advice - if you are going to submit a sample electronically, make sure it's in a readily-accessible format that can't be easily amended, like .pdf or something. It protects your original work and employers notice your professionalism in protecting your intellectual property.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I agre with Veloice. They are not looking for something in thier field. They want to see if you can write.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    thought of something else...

    [I really need someone in my real life to talk to so I don't spend hours thinking about virtual folk!]

    If you have a published piece, say an op-ed from the local paper, and it is somewhat professional in tone, send them that. (My resume includes freelance writer and magazine editor, so I have many published clips.) I wouldn't send them a blog entry, or a commentary about Girls Gone Wild Amateur Night...but a letter to the editor or "This I Believe" piece would work well.

    If you have a short paper, hand-out, or report upon which a prof or colleague has written "A+" or "really well done," send them that. (Scan it in color so that the comments stand out.)

    Going forward, assemble work samples in a portfolio (hard copies and digital, stored safely).

    HTH!

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