I can haz policy?
March 5, 2010 5:25 PM   Subscribe

So, I’m applying for an amazing-sounding job with an organization that works to create peace and address the root causes of violence against women internationally. They want a sample of policy writing, but I haven’t done any!

The job is primarily focused on running events to help the organization achieve advocacy and policy goals, coordinating meetings and conferences (from travel arrangements to finding suppliers, etc.), training and supervising volunteers, budgeting, some fundraising, database management, and office administration – in fact, no policy-related stuff. However, they’re asking for a short writing sample (5 pages) that is preferably policy-related. I have not ever written policy. I’ve written lots of communications-type pieces (annual reports, website content, newsletters, etc., etc.). My plan at this point is to submit one of those pieces, since it’s something that I’ve done for an actual job, but I’d like to write something that is policy-related that I can include – to show that I can do it, and to show that I’m willing to make the effort to write something new for this application.

The problem is: I don’t know where to start. My academic background is in Women’s Studies, but more from a cultural studies point of view than social studies (though I have some of that, too). I’m involved with reproductive rights activism. I’ve worked in community health. Should I pull on one of those things to write something? Does anyone working in any related sector have an idea of what kind of thing I should write? And does anyone have some resources to link me to that could be of help? I’m in Ontario, Canada.

Throwaway e-mail: newjobpleaseplease@gmail.com. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total)
If your academic background is in Women's Studies, do you have any papers you wrote as a student that address policy in some fashion?
posted by ishotjr at 6:34 PM on March 5, 2010

If I were you I would google around to find an assignment in a public policy class. Find one framed as being what a "real" policy paper would be like. This will give you some idea about format and content. Here's one syllabus with an example. Here's the google search I used to find it.

If there's a topic related to the job, then add that to your search. Then do the assignment. Submit this with your other writing sample, making it clear that you wrote this just to be an example of your policy writing.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:52 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have experience with these fields and I live in Canada. Think about what 'policy' is, relative to what you have. Roughly speaking it's the operationalization of all the socio-cultural complexities into a 'neutral' discourse for implementation. The job description is heavy on organizational detail and planning. The point here is that they want you to be able to see the big picture of the issues, and then be able to bring those down to the micro implementation level in such a way as to engage a broad clientele.

You could choose something that you've already written that might address the issues I've listed above. If I were reading it on that hiring committee, it would raise more questions than answers, and so I don't think it's your strongest option.

If you want to stand out, then you would take the bull by the horns and write it from scratch. It's only 5 pages. The theme is 'Here's how I would engage this job, and why you'd be a fool to hire anybody but me'. Here's what I'd include:
-demonstrate that you understand the complexity of the issues addressing peace, and the root causes of violence against women using your academic tool sets. Don't skimp on this. This is going to proxy your 'policy' statement.
-demonstrate that you're not just an academic, idealistic navel gazer, you have street smarts because you've walked the walk, and you know how hard but also energizing it is to work with the 'real' work of getting things done.
-that you can manage all of the details of organization proactively, responsively, and with innovation, and that you don't think of it as the grunt work.
-personal engagement statement set indicating why this personally is an important next career step, what you have to gain from it, and what you have to offer.

Do a shade of research. For example, I googled the words: policy, women, violence, peace, and of course I got a million hits like this. Using this type of doc, or preferably, the policy docs of the org you are applying to, make sure that you are addressing the issues using their base terms of engagement, and theoretical assumptions. In a practical sense, make sure you're using their vocabulary of how they see themselves in articulating how you see yourself in that job.

If you want to be more details, to ask more specific questions with actual detail, please feel free to memail me. Good luck!
posted by kch at 6:55 PM on March 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

My girlfriend is in policy school at Johns Hopkins right now. MeMail me if you'd like to see a good example of policy writing.
posted by josher71 at 8:54 AM on March 6, 2010

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