When you apply for an internship or job, you should have work samples to show. An editor will expect to see clips (published articles) or links to your work. How do you get stuff published? Check out Freelance: Community Publications.
In general, include six to eight links or clips in your application, unless the job posting specifies otherwise. If you’re sending them in print form (as opposed to attaching them to an e-mail), keep them neat and simple: 8 1/2-by-11 photocopies or website printouts, held together with a paper clip. Don’t put them in a fussy folder or binder. And don’t send your originals — you won’t get them back. Keep in mind that editors and hiring managers often want to circulate your work samples to their colleagues, so links might be better than hard copies.
Put your best work on top (or at the top of the list, if you’re linking to it) and try to showcase your versatility by including, say, a feature, a profile and breaking-news pieces. Make sure each link or clip has the name and date of the publication or station or site where it appeared. If your work got special play — say, on the front page of a section or at the top of a news hour — make a note of it. Try to select work samples that show you understand the kind of work the employer does and may be looking for from you.
Broadcast: Demo Reels
If you’re a broadcast student, you should have a “demo reel” ready to send out on request. A DVD is one option; putting your reel online (on Vimeo or YouTube, for example) is even better.
Keep the reel to less than 10 minutes, and preferably six to seven. If you are interested in on-air reporting or anchoring, start with a montage of about a minute of snippets of yourself on camera: reporting, anchoring, introducing a package. These can be very short – 10 seconds each, say — and don’t have to tell a story; they should simply illustrate what your on-camera presentation and skills look like. Then, add two to three packages. Show your best work, and include a variety of pieces: hard news as well as lighter work.
No matter which format you use, your reel should have your name and contact information on a slate at the beginning and end. If you do send out a DVD, use a quality plastic cover to protect it when you send it out — the cheap varieties tend to crack. Remember to label the front of your DVD — include your name and phone number.
Be sure to attend one of the Career Services “Real Reels” workshops — they’re given each semester — on making a demo reel for jobs on camera and behind-the-scenes. The workshops will offer many more tips on how to best present yourself and your work.