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Background: I'm coming from science and will start trying my luck at science journalism.

I already have clips from unpaid work on online media and my own blog posts. However, a few articles that I've written as assignments for science journalism courses have two advantages: They are more "journalistically written" and they are news stories, unlike the already published ones.

Is it considered acceptable to include them in my portfolio or in pitches? (Indicating what they are, of course.)

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    Do you have any particular reason to believe that it wouldn't be acceptable to include them? (I'm not familiar with the field, so this isn't a "no".) – user Sep 2 '19 at 13:41
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    Welcome to Writing.SE Helen, glad you found us. Please check out our tour and help center. I hope that someone familiar with the field is able to answer. This would be acceptable in most fields but I don't know if it's the case for yours. – Cyn says make Monica whole Sep 2 '19 at 14:42
  • @aCVn just because what one produces in education assignments doesn't usually count towards "professional experience". (On the other hand of course, people care about one's actual writing, regardless of the setting. So, I'm confused and prefer to look for common practices.) – Helen Sep 2 '19 at 21:54
  • @Cyn thanks - as far as I can tell so far things in science journalism are done like in other journalistic fields, so this probably counts. – Helen Sep 2 '19 at 22:01
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The saying goes: If you don't have samples, create some.

This should be applicable to journalism as well as it is to other fields like design, photography, engineering, programming, etc.

You have to build a portfolio to prove your skill and/or willingness to do something for your dream instead of just sitting there and proclaming 'I wish I could be this or that'. In any other CV you start with listing internships until you can replace them with 'real jobs'. So go with anyhing you have at hand and gradually exchange them with 'professional' pieces as soon as possible.

Here some first-hand/personal experience as reference:

My sister-in-law studied hospital management. She then started off her professional technical-writing carreer by taking on minor freelance jobs, building up her portfolio and is now professionally writing e-books and news-site-articles.

As a carreer entrant (in engineering) I also refered to assignments delivered during studies and personal projects I tried to realize with two of my classmates. This was an opener for many opportunities.

All the best to you!

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  • Thank you Viktor, but unfortunately the answer wasn't clear to me. Do I understand it correctly as "use only published clips"? Also, I do have a portfolio and know the basics of using and expanding it, so my question is specifically about including assignment "clips". – Helen Sep 4 '19 at 7:49
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    @Helen I edited my answer in hope to make it more clear. I meant you should go with everything you have at hand that shows your professional aspirations to get started. After that you can replace the "assignement articles" you have in your portfolio with the ones you wrote starting your carreer. – Viktor Katzy Sep 4 '19 at 8:01
  • I see, I got it now! – Helen Sep 17 '19 at 18:41

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