How to Write a Profile Essay

  1. Discover a remarkable subject to write a profile essay about. The person can be well-known or somewhat ordinary. The subject is not limited to an individual but can be a location, leisure interest, or occupation. Expand your search beyond the computer and your neighborhood. Do primary source research on the subject to acquire background information. Go to the library and view back issues of local or regional newspapers and other rags or scan online sources.
  2. Develop a loose outline based on the subject of your essay. Jot down the header, “Introduction.” Start listing possible details that will be disclosed later from interviews. Title another header as “Body” and note high points that will become the possible climax of the essay. Tie it all up in the “Conclusion” header and brainstorm solid ending possibilities.
  3. Compose a list of specific interview questions. They should be open-ended but specific and relevant to your essay. Questions should draw out information not commonly known about the person. Make a list of possible interviewees to broaden the narrative for a multifaceted profile. This includes others in his or her circle or individuals linked to a location or activity.
  4. Conduct the interview in a distraction-free zone. Establish a rapport early on to make the interviewee feel comfortable, which will churn out a more productive interview. Lay down a basic groundwork of what topics will be covered, the length of time needed, and the importance of the interview. Next, advance to the main interview. Be sure to take meticulous notes or get permission to tape the interview to transcribe later.
  5. Jot down any observations immediately following the interview. Consider the individual’s habits, attitude, and other qualities that were observed. Transcribe and rearrange the interview questions to recount an interesting personal perspective or interpretation. This will become your rough draft.
  6. Revise the draft, incorporating important details and factual incidents that were initially missed. Start with an attention-grabbing lead sentence. Ensure that the beginning grabs the reader and pulls him in. Intrigue your audience with an informative main section. Stay focused on your intended approach until the essay’s conclusion, which should give readers a closing impression of the subject and summarize your overall objective.
  7. Read the essay aloud. Did you give a visual portrayal? Check that you interweaved dialogue, added physical descriptions in moderation, but used narrative freely.

Tips to Write a Profile Essay

A profile essay vividly presents a subject to the readers. The writing is a combination of objective and expressive: While presenting his observations and analysis to inform the reader, the writer also brings his own personal perspective and interpretations to the essay. A profile essay differs from biographical and autobiographical writing in that it takes newly acquired observation, through research or firsthand accounts; an autobiography or biography is about remembered experiences. The challenge of a profile essay is to gather the information and give it shape in an essay that conveys a main idea; there are several guidelines to aid a writer in doing this.

Choose the Subject Wisely

While profiles of exciting, controversial people are always interesting, even the mundane can be intriguing if the writer examines it closely and offers a distinctive perspective. A writer shouldn’t overlook the quietly remarkable person who seems ordinary on the outside.

Form an Engaging and Informative Plan

A profile essay will most likely be based on at least one interview with the subject, and may also include interviews with those that know the subject. Writers should resist the temptation to organize the essay in the order they ask the questions, as this can make for boring reading. Instead, the answers of the questions should be examined closely for an emerging image of the subject. The responses can then be incorporated into a more complex picture of the subject.

Provide a Vivid Description

A quality profile essay should incorporate a vivid word picture of the subject. Include specific details, such as how the subject looks, talks, dresses, smells and is motivated. Keep straight description, or just cataloging the obvious, to a minimum; instead, use description to give the sense that the subject’s outward appearance reveals inward character traits. Information from others in the essay should serve to describe the subject and not take on its own life.

Convey a Dominant Impression

A profile essay should convey a dominant impression of the subject: the writer’s personal interpretation and insight on the subject and what the writer has gained from observing and researching. Carefully select and arrange details so that they communicate your attitude. This interpretive element is what categorizes the profile essay as a genre and separates it from other forms of narrative and descriptive writing, such as the biography.

Profile Paper Example

“Good evening, Valparaiso. I’m storm shield meteorologist Jacob Van Horn here with a look at your forecast.” Ever since Jake was in grade school, he knew that he wanted to be a meteorologist. However, it wasn’t until high school that he realized his dream could truly become reality. Jake’s interest in weather began when he first watched the movie “Twister,” a collection of National Geographic documentaries provided by his school. With an abundance of hard work and dedication, Jake is working towards earning his bachelor’s degree in meteorology and achieving his dream of becoming a meteorologist.

Since Jake has always been an admirer of the weather, severe storms always brought him a thrill. His interest in weather peaked after an F-4 tornado struck a city near his home in November of 2002. His family drove through Van Wert, Ohio, to see the damage. “Those images will always be in my head,” he recalls.

Although Jake always knew that he wanted to become a meteorologist, it was not until high school when he recognized his full potential. He realized how good he was at science and math and how much he enjoyed each of these subjects. Math and science are a crucial part of meteorology; therefore, Jake decided to “give it a go.”

When it came to deciding upon a college to pursue his meteorology degree, Jake was torn between Purdue University and Valparaiso University. Both schools possessed a great meteorology program, but Jake was drawn to Valparaiso’s small school atmosphere and location. Although Valparaiso was a private university with higher tuition than Purdue, Jake received a presidential scholarship, which aided in paying for his tuition. Getting accepted into a college with an outstanding meteorology program brought Jake one step closer to achieving his dream.

Once college started, there were a broad range of meteorology classes that he had to take. They started as simple, introductory classes and progressed into much more specific classes, such as an aviation weather class to predict things such as turbulence and a tropical class, which not only focuses on hurricanes and tropical storms, but the impact of the ocean on the weather in general. These classes will be beneficial to his future career choice. A meteorologist’s job can be described as making a type of educated prediction. Jake will use what he has learned in his classes, apply that broad knowledge to whatever is happening in the forecast, look at where the weather is coming from, and predict what he believes will happen.

The summer between his freshman and sophomore years of college, Jake was an intern at a local news station, WANE 15. While at his internship, he often assisted the head meteorologist in creating graphics that were used on television. He liked using the graphics system to see what he could create and he also liked communicating to the people about what was going to be happening. Jake said that he was able to learn an abundance of new things that will be useful in his future endeavors. One night, during a large tornado outbreak, he stayed at the station until around 2AM, keeping the viewing areas informed about the potentially dangerous weather conditions. He said that it “was definitely a crazy night.”

When he returned back to campus his sophomore year, Jake was a lab aide for an introductory class, which helps to refresh students on the basics of meteorology. He was also an assistant weather director at the campus television station, which is helping him learn about the broadcasting side of meteorology. He has learned everything from production to graphic-making and even presentation skills on the green screen. Although he did not think he would like being on television, before he began classes, Jake has learned many skills that have opened his mind to the world of broadcasting.

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