Paul A. Volcker Careers in Government Essay Contest

The Volcker Alliance hosts this contest in partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY) to recognize students who aspire to pursue careers in public service.

COMING SOON! The 2020 Paul A. Volcker Careers in Government Essay Contest will open in Fall 2020! For contest updates, check back here and follow us on social media @VolckerAlliance.

  1. Contest Details
  2. Prizes
  3. How to Enter
  4. Information Sessions
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Contact us

Tell us about your public service career aspirations!

A central goal of the Paul A. Volcker Careers in Government Essay Contest is to better understand what motivates students to opt for a career in government. We also aim to raise student awareness about the opportunities that come with a career in public service, including mission, impact, job security, and pathways for career advancement.

The 2020 essay contest prompts will be released in Fall 2020. We look for entries that are well organized, thoughtfully composed, and that present a compelling narrative about the values that drive your career aspirations. We want to understand how students are thinking about their potential contribution following graduation. We want to hear about students' vision of the public sector leaders they hope to become.

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Prizes

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How to Enter

All submissions for the 2019 Paul A. Volcker Careers in Government Essay Contest were due on November 3, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. The contest is now closed. Please check back in Fall 2020 for more information about how to enter.

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Information Sessions

The Volcker Alliance hosts information sessions to provide details about the competition and discuss the potential and imperative of a career in public service. Each session features speakers who reflect on their experiences working in public service and share some of their most compelling accomplishments.

Attendance at an information session is not required to enter the contest. The information sessions provide an opportunity for students to ask questions about the contest and engage with our impressive guest speakers about the potential and promise of a public service career.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is Paul A. Volcker?
  2. Why are we hosting this essay contest?
  3. Who’s eligible to enter?
  4. What is the prize for the essay contest winners?
  5. Should I attend an information session?
  6. How do I enter the contest?
  7. What are the characteristics of a strong essay submission?
  8. When will the finalists and winners be announced?

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Q: Who is Paul A. Volcker?

A: Paul Volcker worked for the federal government for almost thirty years as undersecretary of the Treasury for monetary affairs, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, chairman of the Federal Reserve, and chairman of the President’s Economic Recovery Board. Throughout his career, he worked alongside presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Obama, and many of the world’s other leading politicians, bankers, and financiers to provide wisdom, leadership, and a steady hand during many of the most severe financial and ethical crises experienced in this country over the past seventy years. While Mr. Volcker was widely recognized for profoundly shaping economic policy in the United States and around the world, his greatest life mission and his motivation for founding the Volcker Alliance in 2013 was to restore American trust in government and cultivate a vital, prepared public service. Mr. Volcker had an unwavering commitment to effective government and embodied dedication and excellence in public service.

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Q: Why are we hosting this essay contest?

A: The Volcker Alliance is hosting this contest in partnership with CUNY to raise student awareness about the opportunities of a career in public service, including mission, impact, job security and pathways for career advancement. At the same time, we aim to better understand what motivates students to opt for a career in government, offer modest financial support to ease students’ transition into the public workforce, engage students in paid internships, and link them to active practitioners for ongoing guidance and professional mentorship.

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Q: Who’s eligible to enter?

A: In 2019, all CUNY students graduating from a bachelor's program in 2021 were eligible and encouraged to enter. Please check back in 2020 for updated contest eligibility criteria.

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Q: What is the prize for the essay contest winners?

A: The 2019 contest winners each received:

  • A $5,000 cash prize;
  • Priority placement in a year-long paid internship with a local government agency;
  • A monthly MetroCard for the duration of the internship;
  • An expense-paid trip to a public service-related conference of the student’s choosing; and
  • Recognition at a celebratory award breakfast on December 12, 2019.

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Q: Should I attend an information session?

A: Yes! In addition to providing information about the contest, information sessions feature a guest speaker who has dedicated a portion of his or her career to public service. Speakers will field any questions you might have about working in the public sector, discuss the benefits of a career in public service, and talk about how they landed in their current professions. Attendance isn’t required but highly encouraged.

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Q: How do I enter the contest?

The contest closed on November 3, 2019. We are no longer accepting submissions. Please check back in Fall 2020 for inforamtion on eligibility and how to enter.

  1. Go to volckeressay2019.awardsplatform.com into your web browser and register for an account. 
  1. Fill out all the questions under the “Personal Information” tab and click “Save + Next.” 
  1. Complete the three essay questions, making sure to limit each of your answers to 500 words per essay. 
  1. When all the information you entered is correct and you have finalized your written answers, click “Submit Entry”. 
  1. You will receive an email confirming that your submission was received. If you advance to the finalist round, we will contact you to schedule an interview with the selection committee on December 2, 3, or 4. 

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Q: What are the characteristics of a strong essay submission?

A:  Strong essays will:

  • Demonstrate genuine interest in a public service career;
  • Convey a compelling vision of what effective government looks like and why it matters;
  • Respond directly to the questions posed; and
  • Be presented clearly, cleanly and with attention to proper grammar and spelling.

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Q: When will the finalists and winners be announced?

A: Finalists for the 2019 Paul A. Volcker Careers in Government Essay Contest were interviewed by the selection committee on December 2–4, 2019. Winners were notified in early December, and a celebratory award breakfast was held on Thursday, December 12, 2019.

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