Virginia Beach, VA (April 13, 2023) – Northern Virginia’s own Bezawit Abate is America’s Next Great Intern. The sophomore at Potomac Senior High School, who moved to the United States from Ethiopia only seven months ago, was one of 16 finalists selected to showcase top-tier communication skills essential in an internship.

Nearly 200 students competed in the contest, and from that group Rubin selected 16 national finalists. More than 6,500 people voted from across the country to choose 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

Abate wins a stipend for professional clothing, a professional headshot and a paid virtual internship. Her teacher, Ms. Eula Tillar, receives a $250 cash bonus to support her classroom.

2nd place: Lucy Hansen from Boone High School in Boone, Iowa
3rd place: Rosemary Ruan from Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, North Carolina

Middle School “Up and Coming” Winner: Reid Iverson from Aliamanu Middle School in Honolulu, Hawaii

Rubin, the leader in online curriculum for employability and workplace readiness skills, hosted the competition.

Demand for intern and job applicants with “soft skills” is a top priority across all industry sectors. According to a 2022 survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 76% of respondents want to hire young people who can work on a team, 73% want ones with strong written communication skills and 58% seek new hires who can speak well.

The submission period for the America’s Next Great Intern contest ran throughout February 2023, which is National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. All middle school, high school and post-secondary CTE students were eligible.

The instructions were drawn from Rubin’s Emerge curriculum, a broad library of online exercises for employability skills like email/phone etiquette, job interview prep, LinkedIn communication and more. Rubin provides Emerge to CTE programs nationwide.

A panel of judges (Rubin team members, industry professionals and staff from the Association for Career and Technical Education) assessed the students across five areas.

1. Greeting: Video recording of the student engaging in a professional handshake
2. Phone Skills: Video recording of the student leaving a mock voicemail and answering the phone at a place of business
3. Team Communication: Email in which the student updates a teacher or employer on the status of classwork or a project at an internship/job
4. Resiliency & Determination: Written example of a time in which the student demonstrated resiliency in the face of a challenge on a class/club project, volunteer opportunity or internship task
5. Research & Critical Thinking: Questions the student prepares to better explore a company where the student would like to intern

“Employers often lament that students don’t possess the ‘soft skills’ necessary to engage in an office setting or on the job site,” says Danny Rubin, founder of Rubin. “We hope the contest shows that, yes, there are motivated young people coast to coast who will add value to any business or organization.”

About Rubin:

Rubin is the leader in online instruction for employability and work readiness skills. The company, based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, provides Emerge, a digital curriculum that teaches effective writing and speaking skills, to thousands of students in middle school, high school and higher education. Rubin also has a soft-skill notification tool for email writing called Propel.

Founded in 2017 by Danny Rubin, a former CBS television news reporter and consultant to NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rubin teaches students nationwide critical lessons for email/phone etiquette, networking, team communication, leadership communication and more. Our motto: “Write well, open doors!”