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How to Gain Writing Experience While Studying

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Whether you’re studying a creative writing or journalism course, or you want to get some credit to your name in a specialist area, gaining writing experience as you study is a great way to build your CV and boost your employability. It shows desirable professional skills such as entrepreneurship, communication, research and being able to work to a deadline – all things listed in graduate job specs. Not only that, but it means you’re building up a tangible library of your work. A writing portfolio is your evidence – so why not get ahead of the pack and start showcasing your skills? Here are some of the best ways to gain writing experience while studying.

Find the university magazine

Most universities will have a magazine or newspaper, usually run by the journalism students or English literature students. Even if you’re not studying one of these courses, you could bring a unique angle to the newspaper by writing about your specialist area. Business student? Biology student? It doesn’t matter – in fact it can help you stand out. You’re adding unique value and showing you have skills outside of your specialist area.  If the magazine/newspaper is distributed in print then all the better – that counts as an official printed publication for your work.

Professional skills showcased: Editorial, writing, being pro-active, working as a team, research

Start your own blog

Blogging is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build up a writing portfolio – and you have full editorial control. It’s also a great way to gain collaborators and help to showcase your friends’ work as well. Blogging is almost synonymous with the online ecosystem these days, so it’s important to make yours stand out. Take a unique perspective on a common subject and inject all of your personality into it. Blogs are great for this. If you’ve got the time to dedicate, blogging also showcases another set of desirable skills that can be hard to quantify: persistence and reliability. Post regularly and often about the thing you love. Plus, it’s a ton of fun.

Professional skills showcased: Editorial, writing to an audience, being pro-active, research, independent work ethic

Intern at a digital agency

Digital agencies are a seriously untapped resource for students and writers alike. It’s next to impossible to get an internship at a magazine or newspaper (unless you know someone of course), whereas digital agencies offer internships quite readily. You can do lots of different things at an agency depending on your skillset: developer work, design work etc. But there are also opportunities to gain writing experience, by offering your copywriting skills. Copywriting is a vastly overlooked option for creative writing graduates and it specifically caters to the skills they have built up: sub-editing, writing with a voice, writing to an audience, writing to a deadline – the list goes on. Offering these services to an agency as an intern allows you to build up a modest professional writing portfolio and gives you invaluable contacts post-graduation.

Professional skills showcased: Writing to a word count, adapting your tone of voice, working to a deadline, understanding your reader

Start a university writing club

Being the person to initiate a project is always a desirable quality to have. Being a leader, and being a successful one, is always a skill employers are looking for. If you’re the one to start a writing club in your university then it shows several things; it shows you’re able to get people on board with your unique concept, it shows leadership and it shows you’re not afraid of a challenge. It’s taking skills to do with writing and exhibiting them in a different light; it’s the managerial and people side of writing. It’s important you can write well, yes. But it’s also hugely important that you can inspire others to write, and lead them to be better. Who wouldn’t want that person on their team?

Professional skills showcased: Leadership, people skills, project management

Guest post on established blogs

If you’ve started your own blog and have started to make a name for yourself, then guest posting on other blogs is a great way to build up your writing portfolio. Gaining writing experience from other blogs or news sites is a great way to build your reputation online and makes it easier for potential employers to find you by search. Make sure you get your name credited in your post and then when people are searching for you they can find one of your articles easily. There are lots of ways to approach gaining a guest post, but this article from I Will Teach you to Be Rich covers it well. It’s just like pitching for a magazine article – do your research and pitch something relevant.

Professional skills showcased: Writing, writing to an audience, writing to deadline, resourcefulness, research

Ruth Hartnoll co-writes the blog Crown Rules, and is also a copywriter, playwright and poet. She studied in Liverpool and graduated in 2010 from Liverpool John Moores University with a first in Creative Writing. She currently lives in Liverpool with her cat Suki-Mei.

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