Tips to Compete at World Bank International Essay Competition: Everyone Can Join.

Eventhough i was the winner in 2010, i still received a lot of e-mails asking me tips and other “how to” compete, win, enter, join, etc. in this competition. So instead of replying them one by one, i think it is best to share my experience on my blog 🙂

1There is no special mantra to win World Bank International Essay Competition. What i am going to emphasize is each year The World Bank Group picks different topic both for essay and video competition. My year’s topic was “Youth Unemployment” and this year’s topic was “Migration”. I believe that each person has different encounter in experiencing each theme, either from first hand experience or second hand experience. What makes each person stands out in his/her essay is how genuine and natural he/she in sharing the experience, how clear the description connects to the topic, how practical and direct the solutions offered.

2. When I mentioned about genuine and natural, i really meant it. I have seen many essays that are trying to deliver one issue, but those seem like weren’t natural as if they were designed only to compete and not to address particular issue to be later spread to be known by many people. Many natural essays come from first-hand experience; it doesn’t mean that you should be the one who are/were in the “problem” matched with the essay’s theme because you can write in a reporter or journalist’s perspective. It is your skill in observing and immersing into real life situation that touch your essay real.

3. Because this competition is essay competition, of course basic skill in writing is needed. The World Bank isn’t bothered with your grammar or vocab mistakes (very nice); they seek for idea. However, of course basic coherence in creating paragraph on your essay is essential in order for the judges to get your idea easily. You can write in English, French, or Spanish (no Indonesian? ohh noo… LOL). The length of the essay is usually maximum 4,000, excluding footnote, citation, bibliography, and 100 words abstract. This amounts of words are usually applied in technical essay in order to compose effective and efficient sentences. My experience is i used to overrun sentence in the problem description parts and left few in solution, but then i noticed that it wasn’t thing World Bank looked for. Don’t forget to check and recheck the grammar and proofread your words. Ask someone else to read your essay and let them comment on it. I didn’t do the last part because i felt shy that other people would think my essay was crap. This is what many of us think too. However, i then pushed myself to ask my faculty member in economy to read my essay. This was just happened when World Bank noticed me i was one of finalists. Bravo! I did received lots of good input from him. Better late than never.

4. The closest time frame and real situation (that match with the essay’s theme) you are with the process of essay, the more you can imagine your experience into the writing and the clearer you are with the frame. So, do not wait. As long as it is still fresh, go ahead put that on words. I produced my essay in quiete difficult situation, but it was the real situation i needed in composing my essay. I was staying in rural village doing community development (a program in microfinance and developing small business units for villagers) when i found out this competition. Well, for more than 30 days in the village, my university did not allow me to bring any laptop for security reason. How did i find this essay competition on-line? hehehhe…check this out

One of my duties aside of assisting the production in my “host-family” in the village was canvassing and buying. I had to walk from one small shop to another to offer our home-made product (spinach crackers) , check our stocks, take the money from the shop, and buy raw materials (flour, oil, etc). When i got tired, i usually stayed at one internet cafe (do not imagine fancy cafe, it was just a simple room) where only three computers on, few had viruses, internet was slow like a snail, and unstable electricity in the village made the computers shut down when the voltage was down in effect. I credited my essays small by small portions, because i had to come back to work. Reaching night, the voltage was even severe than it supposed to be. One day, i had written 1,623 words, and hadn’t Save-as my works. Suddenly the voltage down, computer was off, and because it ran on old Ms.Office, it didn’t have Autosave mode. You know what happened. I needed to rewrite everything again.

And the worst thing was, those three units of computers were the only ones available around my village area, and the cafe was always full of people. The suck thing happened when i was waiting in line (to write my essay) for bunch of young people in the village who just spent times sending virtual Valentine gifts among their pals on Facebook.
“Ieu yeuh, urang keur ngirim Palentin gip. Geulis pisan siah” (in Sundanese: “ohhh i am sending Valenting gift. She is so cute”.—pointing at random profile picture which i doubt that person knew well).

5. All right back to my tips. Tried to put your soul on your essay. To be honest, because so much depression i had when i worked on my essay, i once cried. I don’t know about this 😛 but i think your efforts can be transferred to your words.

6Do not wait till last minute when submitting your essay online. Techical problem such as internet, PC, or electricity can happen and your long time work may not be entered in the competition.

7. If you are selected as finalist, prior to the final presentation, you don’t have to create power point slide as The World Bank realize that not everyone in the world has access toward that expensive monopoly software (i love World Bank). Everyone has own style in presentation, but, make sure you deliver it in a “Genuine and Natural” way and put your passion on fire and spread it around the room.

Good luck for the next World Bank International Essay Competition. We’ll see what’s upcoming topic and place. 🙂

Check out my essay here:


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