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  • 1.  Writing Samples

    Posted 01-07-2019 01:08 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 01-07-2019 01:07 PM


    One is often asked to provide a writing sample in the job search process. While I've been constantly producing written reports, most of my professional writing has been a part of a collaborative effort, reviewed and modified by project managers, professional editors and who-not. 

    Do you see a problem with providing a document, primarily written by me, but with editorial and other input by others, while mentioning that this is the case (after all, even literary authors have their work edited)? Or do you keep a pre-edited version that's truly yours for such cases?  

    Natalya Sokolovskaya P.E., M.ASCE
    Wynnewood PA

  • 2.  RE: Writing Samples

    Posted 01-07-2019 02:33 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 01-07-2019 02:33 PM
    Submit the edited copy.  It is critical that you know your own skills and limitations.  It is even more important that you know when to ask for help or seek special accommodations.  The workplace is a collaborative environment, unlike college, it is OK to ask for help and use outside sources (spell check, writing guides, translators).  This is something that can be brought up during a job interview: I am a strong communicator of technical content, but do require some help in polishing my final draft.  

    If I am sending a letter to a client, I always have the chief engineer or a colleague review it.  They need your help too and there are many times where you can return the favor and check their work.  If I am stamping my own calculations, a colleague needs to check them first.  This is company policy and best practice.

    Your cover letter and email correspondence with the interviewers should be professional, concise, and reflective of your writing style.  Your technical reports should be meet the desired publishing and legal standards... this essentially requires a second set of eyes.  

    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
    (401)231-4870 EXT 2207

  • 3.  RE: Writing Samples

    Posted 01-08-2019 12:10 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 01-08-2019 12:10 PM
    Natalya, I would submit the edited report or document.  Just explain your role in its development. Such as "I did many of the calculations, worked with a team to write it," etc.

    Bevin Beaudet P.E., M.ASCE
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL

  • 4.  RE: Writing Samples

    Posted 01-08-2019 02:51 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 01-08-2019 02:51 PM
    I concur with the other responders regarding providing the edited version, making it clear it was a collaboration.

    One caution here to avoid ethical/legal issues - if your writing sample is anything that you created as an employee at one firm (and you are looking for a job at a different firm), it is not only unethical but also not legal to provide that same document to someone else without written permission from both the client and your employer. Documents created while an employee as part of your job typically owned by the company - not you - unless you added some sort of intellectual property agreement in your employment contract.  

    To avoid legal entanglements, provide something you created that is professional but not completed in your capacity as an employee or alternatively something that can be found publicly on the internet.  For example, if you worked on a section of your state's ASCE infrastructure report card, or wrote a resource guide for a K-12 STEM project those could be used. Items that anyone can find online could include an article you wrote for a trade magazine, or a blog you wrote either for your own site or for a company (assuming the company blog is publicly accessible). If you don't have any of these at the moment, you can always write an article now and post it to LinkedIn (it's free and easy to do).     

    Stephanie Slocum P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineers Rising LLC