Writing Internship: Tips for Success

A writing internship may vary from the exciting to the dubious. Some internships are invaluable, and some are scams. Because a large range of positions may call themselves a writing internship, you should check out their credentials thoroughly before you apply.

Finding a Writing Internship

You may find a writing internship online or in trade magazines. Wise writers will routinely check internship providers to ensure that the offers are genuine. Many writing jobs are called internships but effectively qualify as unpaid work.

To check the credentials of an internship, you should complete the following tasks:

  • Search the name of the provider and related publications for information and any complaints.
  • Request information about the writing internship before you apply.
  • Search any quoted sites for their quality of materials.

Writing internships come in two basic types: paid and unpaid. Some internships offer academic credits for your work. If you're looking for academic credits, first check with your college regarding the types of writing internship considered acceptable for credits. The college may also be able to recommend acceptable internships.

Types of Writing Internships

The various types of work you might do are based on the internship provider's industry and the type of writing involved. You should target internships which have the best relevance to your areas of professional interest.

Some representative types of writing internship include the following:

  • Technical writing
  • Industrial papers
  • Screenwriting
  • TV writing
  • Fashion articles
  • Sports features
  • News and journalism
  • Public relations
  • Marketing
  • Advertising

Academic Internships

Academic internships are the most reliable writing internships, particularly for academic credits. They include major colleges like Stanford as well as other reputable institutions. These internships can provide valuable academic credits and good portfolio materials for writers.

Find out exactly what the position requires in terms of materials. The high levels of personal commitment, time and production of materials should return proven value for your work.  

Interviews and Applications

Not all writing internships require formal interviews. Some telecommuting internships are essentially decided by the screening processes. The usual screening process is to request copies of a writer's work with a formal application or, in some cases, to set writing assignments.

An internship interview, when held, is case-specific. Questions will cover your range of core skills and prior experience. The provider needs to see clear evidence of your abilities and evidence of high-quality, original content.  

Be prepared to address these areas about yourself:

  • Experience and qualifications
  • Published works
  • Portfolio materials
  • Research skills
  • Areas of expertise

Each question in these areas will require you to give an example of your work and depth of knowledge regarding the subjects. You should provide strong examples of your work in each category of question. Make sure that your examples show clear relevance to the writing internship.

Motivation

The provider will be looking for a motivated person who has a career track in mind and wants the writing internship as part of a career progression. These are the high-value candidates who will get the positions. For example, if you're interested in technical writing in a particular field, your motivation is supported by a history of work in that field and related jobs or qualifications.