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The Ultimate Guide To Writing Internships in 2021

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Internships are pretty hard to get into and writing internships are not any different. A couple of years ago, I was stressing pretty badly about getting internships so I can go to medical school or get a job.

After getting the right connections and submitting my application, I was able to get into the Mayo Clinic SURF program. It’s a very competitive summer research internship and that taught me a lot about the importance of networking to land an internships.

Fast forward a few years, I’m a self-employed writer and blogger. My experiences both as a writer and as a college student who landed several competitive internships gave me insight as to what actually works when looking to land a job or internship in writing.

What is a writing internship?

A writing internship is just an internship where you’re taught a specific type of writing that helps a company. It sounds very vague, but that’s the truth.

When you major in English, writing or communications in college, you’re sold the dream that you’re going to write about what you’re passionate about and make a big impact in the world.

There’s some truth in that, but it’s not what you’re thinking. If you land a writing internship, you’re at the bottom of the company totem pole. You’ll be expected to do the unglamorous work simply because you’re inexperienced.

The work that you will do will vary based on the type of writing internship you have. These are some of the types of writing internships you can expect to see:

Types of writing internships:

Technical writing internship: These types of internships focus primarily on teaching you basics of technical writing. You can expect to write user manuals, training manuals and more. Technical writing pays very well in comparison to other types of writing.

Grant writing internship: Grant writing internships teach you how to write proposals that win grants and awards for companies. This can be very lucrative if you’re a great writer with a proven track record of winning grants.

Creative writing internship: A creative writing internship can vary drastically between companies. You may end up writing plays, TV scripts, speeches, memoirs, etc. Make sure to double check what the company does, so you know what kind of creative writing you will be doing.

Sports writing internship: Sports writing internships are super competitive and they will require you to do work like conducting interviews, writing columns and more.

Copywriting internship: Copywriting internships will immerse you in writing all types of copy like email copywriting, landing page copywriting and more. Copywriters are often paid pretty well because they drive results for a company.

Do you need a writing internship?

If you are pursuing an actual career in academic or professional writing, it’s almost a necessity. To answer this question, you need to really reflect and think about where you want to be.

Once you figure out what type of writing you want to do, work backwards. Let’s take my career path for example:

I majored in a science degree in college and once I figured out a career in medicine wasn’t for me, I started looking for ways to make money. I came across sites on Google where freelance writers were making thousands of dollars a month writing for companies.

So here’s what I did:

  • Set up a website with my name that showed I’m a freelance writer
  • Worked with a few companies for free to get some sample writing in my portfolio
  • Started emailing companies asking to write for them

It definitely wasn’t easy for the first year and a half, but now I’m able to write for companies remotely and set my own schedule. I share my progress in my monthly income reports, you can check out my last one here.

For the vast majority of people, you will need a writing internship if you want a writing job. If you’re looking to be a freelance writer or be self-employed, it’s not a necessity, but it helps. The freelance route is definitely not easier, but I find it to be more rewarding.

Where can you find writing internships?

Writing internships are important for most aspiring writers and I definitely could’ve benefited from one early in my writing career.

The difficulty is in knowing where to look to find these writing internships. Here are some places you can look to find hundreds of writing internships.

Major job boards

To find the most amount of writing internships possible, you’ll need to scour through major job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, Ziprecruiter, etc.

I personally dislike these job boards because they’re so cluttered, but there’s a ton of opportunity to land roles on those sites.

Make sure you enter the right keywords to find all of the possible writing internships you qualify for. You are eligible for all the writing internships in your city and all of the remote writing internships.

When you’re searching on these sites make sure to include remote or your city in the location and search for writing internships.

A cool tactic you can use is to put the alerts on for the terms “writing internship” on those sites. These sites will automatically email you when a new writing internship is posted on their sites.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great resource to find writing internships. You can connect with people working at companies you want to intern for, search LinkedIn jobs and find posts that are looking for writing interns.

When connecting, make sure to connect with people who you will likely work with or people who will hire you. My LinkedIn connections is 95% content managers, editors, marketing managers, etc. These are the people who will likely hire writing interns and freelance writers.

LinkedIn jobs is great for writing internships. You can search for writing internships and see exactly how many people applied to each one and contact the recruiter that posted the job offering.

Chegg

Chegg, which owns internships.com, is a powerful resource for internship searches. At the time of writing this blog post, there are over 9,000 results for writing internships on Chegg.

You can sort out that available writing internships by location, pay, etc. You can apply directly via Chegg or go to the company website.

I noticed a lot of the writing internships are unpaid, so make sure you check compensation before accepting a role to write for free. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend an unpaid internship unless it was very short.

What should you do after a writing internship?

After landing a writing internship, the work isn’t done. Ideally, you’d like to get a full-time position at the company you interned for. This can only happen if you take initiative and show you can bring value to the company.

If you’re still in the internship, talk to your managers, editors, etc., about any opportunities to join the company full-time. Assuming you have a decent relationship with them, they’ll help you navigate opportunities and even provide people you can contact to seek opportunities.

If you’re done with the internship, sending a quick email to meet or ask for references can be huge. Many content managers have worked for several companies, so they know a couple of contacts to reach out to.

All of these efforts that can lead to a job have to be initiated by you. Of course there are some nice managers who will help you without asking, but you shouldn’t depend on that. Make sure to maximize your resources at your writing internship, so you can get enough contacts to improve your network and land a job.

What happens if you don’t find a writing internship?

We’re answering the real questions here.

You can work hard, network and still fall short of landing a writing internships. What you do from that point will determine your success in landing a writing job or internship.

Now that I’ve been writing for two years, I can confidently say that I wasn’t qualified for most of the writing jobs I applied for early on. So how did I get freelance clients then?

Marketing.

Market yourself

I’ve worked with dozens of companies that have big writing teams. What did all of the writers who were hired along with me have in common? They put themselves out there.

I know it can sound daunting to put you’re a writer on your bio on Twitter or Instagram, but no one cares honestly.

Most of the writers I’ve worked with have an updated LinkedIn page, a website, a Twitter account that shows their interest in writing.

One thing you will quickly realize after college is that your skills and competence does not equal your pay. There are people who are less qualified than you getting paid more simply because they ask or they can market themselves better.

Marketing yourself can be as simple as sharing what you’re working on and connecting with like minded people. If you do this well over a period of time, you’ll start getting opportunities presented to you.

Start freelancing

You always have the ability to start freelance writing. Freelance writing will help you gain experience while getting paid for your work.

There’s basically 0 requirements to get started freelance writing. All you need is a professional email address, a couple samples of writing and ability to start emailing potential clients.

Although it sounds simple, it’s not easy. The better you can market yourself as a freelance writer, the more clients you can get and the higher you can charge them for work.

I’m a firm believer in the pareto principle, it’s basically a theory that states 80% of your results are driven by 20% of your actions. For example, if you’re losing weight, your main focus should be on being in a caloric deficit. That alone will make you lose weight.

It’s the same thing with freelance writing. My main focus is outreaching to potential new clients; this allows me to never run out of work because I’m always marketing.

This is what my typical schedule looks like:

  • Write this blog for 2 hours
  • Write for clients for another 2 hours
  • Spend rest of day emailing to get new clients

If you want to learn more about freelance writing and how I got started, check out this post here.

Final thoughts

As cliché as it sounds, a writing career is a marathon not a race. If you set your foundations today, you can be earning a full-time income writing for a company within a year.

If I can give one advice, it would to be to focus. You have to literally write down exactly what you’re going to do to increase your chances of landing a writing internship.

If I had to start over and look for a writing internship with no experience, here’s what I’d do in a typical week (assuming you have 2-3 hours each day).

Monday

  • Update resume and cover letter (emphasize writing experiences)
  • Create a LinkedIn account
    • Quickly fill it out your experiences, education, etc
    • Send connection request to 20 editors/content managers (these are the people who you will likely work under)

Tuesday:

  • 1 hour apply to writing internships (once you have your resume and cv down, you can a lot of applications in an hour)
  • Keep sending connection requests to editors and content managers (don’t spam keep it under 50 requests per day or LinkedIn can suspend your account)
    • Message 5 of them to ask if they are hiring writing interns

Wednesday:

  • 1 hour of applying to writing internships
  • Keep sending connection requests (50 more)
    • Message 5 of your new connections for internship opportunities

Thursday

  • 1 hour of applying to writing internships
  • Keep sending connection requests (50 more)
    • Message 5 of your new connections for internship opportunities

Friday:

  • 1 hour of applying to writing internships
  • Keep sending connection requests (50 more)
    • Message 5 of your new connections for internship opportunities

Weekend:

Set up a basic website with your name, experiences and interests. This will be good later on to publish blog posts, so you can show your expertise in writing.

If you follow that basic template, you should see results in several weeks to a month. I hope you found this guide to be helpful, feel free to comment any other tips you may have used to help land a writing internship.

 

 

 

 

 

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