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Thread: Writing Samples & Portfolios

  1. #1
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    Writing Samples & Portfolios

    Hey there-

    I have a job interview coming up and they said to bring writing samples and materials that would help me through the interview. I've never been asked to bring writing samples before, and admittedly, I haven't done the best job of keeping my portfolio up to date, but can someone clarify or shed some light on the difference between portfolios and writing samples in the planning world? It seems the easiest thing would be to bring in copies of some recent reports and documents I have written. But the more thorough option would be to just update my portfolio to include newer projects and piece out some notable paragraphs. It just seems weird to me to hand over a multiple page document as a writing sample.

    Any advice would really help. I'm beginning to think I'm overthinking this

  2. #2
    Cyburbian MD Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by pollyanna43 View post
    Hey there-

    I have a job interview coming up and they said to bring writing samples and materials that would help me through the interview. I've never been asked to bring writing samples before, and admittedly, I haven't done the best job of keeping my portfolio up to date, but can someone clarify or shed some light on the difference between portfolios and writing samples in the planning world? It seems the easiest thing would be to bring in copies of some recent reports and documents I have written. But the more thorough option would be to just update my portfolio to include newer projects and piece out some notable paragraphs. It just seems weird to me to hand over a multiple page document as a writing sample.

    Any advice would really help. I'm beginning to think I'm overthinking this
    I think you could just choose some excerpts of reports you've done. That's what I tell people I have interviewed. Also, when I've interviewed if something I've done is online I'll provide them the link to a whole document. Don't be afraid to showcase any publishing skills (InDesign, Photoshop, etc) that you may have done. I'm finding that is more and more important as we create more projects in-house rather than farm it out to a consultant.

    I'm in Maryland also and know a lot of people around the region. Feel free to PM me and maybe I can give you some additional insight.
    He's a planner, he's a dreamer, he's a sordid little schemer,
    Seems to think that money grows on trees . . .

  3. #3
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Public sector I would showcase some of my staff reports and comp plan work or some other plan. Private sector, I don't know. I guess show off the projects you worked on and the publishing skills. Depending on the public job publishing skills work well there too. Just no picture of the old boss's head on someone else's body.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  4. #4
    I think almost every experienced planner should have some kind of portfolio showcasing the work they're most proud of. This is actually more important in the public sector since it helps you stand out among your peers and makes you more competitive for private sector jobs.

    Here's what I did: Since a lot of my experience involves in-house urban design and long range plans, I uploaded these files to a wordpress blog with a portfolio-style front end. I also bought my own domain name and developed a urban planning/transportation blog which I try to update every few weeks. I mostly write about planning/transportation topics - this is a good way to show the quality of your writing to potential employers and that you're involved & interested in your profession.

    This means I have samples of my in-house work, a very detailed resume (much more than I can fit on a 1-2 page print out) with links to websites of the actual projects I worked on, and a collection of current writing samples all in one place under one website. This system has worked well for me.

    If you have specific questions feel free to DM me.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by southern_yank View post

    Here's what I did: Since a lot of my experience involves in-house urban design and long range plans, I uploaded these files to a wordpress blog with a portfolio-style front end. I also bought my own domain name and developed a urban planning/transportation blog which I try to update every few weeks. I mostly write about planning/transportation topics - this is a good way to show the quality of your writing to potential employers and that you're involved & interested in your profession.

    This means I have samples of my in-house work, a very detailed resume (much more than I can fit on a 1-2 page print out) with links to websites of the actual projects I worked on, and a collection of current writing samples all in one place under one website. This system has worked well for me.
    I've been moving my entire portfolio onto a wordpress blog type of format for a few months now (both writing and design samples). It is relatively easy to understand, I just have too many project descriptions that need to be reworded!
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

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  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I've never been asked to submit a portfolio for a planning job, but in architecture it's your resume and it will be judged (critically). So I have to assume that if you are getting asked that, it means you will be expected to have design skills for the job. Writing samples on the other hand are fairly common and I would focus on the types of reports you've completed, not graphics (okay okay, you can include GIS maps). My 2 cents.

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