Internship Supervisor Spotlight: Estelle S. Kohn

Internship Supervisor Spotlight: Estelle S. Kohn

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Estelle S. Kohn
October 15, 2012

Estelle S. Kohn, J.D. hosts TWC interns each semester as an internship supervisor while working in her two roles as Deputy Director & Legal Internship Supervisor for the National Whisteblowers Center (NWC) and Legal Internship Administrator for the law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP (KKC). She helps TWC interns placed at these internship sites delve deeper into the world of social justice by often providing them with the opportunity to work on high-profile cases. Both internships offer student interns the opportunity to work alongside nationally recognized legal experts in their field.

 

In her current roles at NWC and KKC, Kohn is responsible for coordinating a highly respected, nation-wide legal student internship program. She recruits over 60 students every year and has been working with The Washington Center since 2002. In addition to her duties as Internship Director, she is also responsible for a nation-wide, attorney referral program, speaker’s bureau, continuing legal education seminars, special educational events and programs, staff travel arrangement and arranging special events for the interns and staff.

 

Based on her past internship experiences and having directed internship programs for a number of years, here is the list of critical tips a supervisor should keep in mind when managing a successful internship program:

 

Prior to working with an intern

  • Keep in mind that interns require  a commitment of time, patience, communication and understanding.
  • Supervisors serve as teachers, mentors and constructive critics.  Make sure you play those roles all the time.
  • Information including an intern's personal statement, cover letter, resume, letter of recommendation and academic transcript help supervisors learn a lot about student candidates prior to the interview. Having these materials available will help ensure you've found a good match for the organization.
  • Interviewers should ask several questions during the initial interview process to make sure they get to know more about potential interns:  What do they know about the organization? What they are expecting to accomplish during their internship experience? What do they hope to contribute?

After selecting an intern

  • An initial orientation day sets the tone for the time interns spend working at the site. On day one: provide new interns with a packet of written materials outlining the policies and procedures in the workplace, discuss what they hope to accomplish, assign them with tasks, give them the opportunity to meet the staff, and take them on a tour of the facility.
  • As a supervisor, it is important to provide guidance, assign concrete assignments with deadlines, give feedback and evaluations, and facilitate the learning process on a daily basis.
  • Spend time with interns – let them know that they are valued both as a person and as a member of the team.
  • When talking about their work product, find something positive in what they did before you show them how to correct or improve the work.
  • Involve interns as much as possible in the organization – let them sit in on meetings and shadow.
  • Have an open door policy – allow interns to discuss freely and work out any issues that might arise.

By practicing the ten tips listed above, NWC and KKC have achieved major victories in public health & safety, forensic fraud, environmental protection, government contract fraud, nuclear safety, medical fraud, government misconduct and corporate fraud.

 

Over the years the most satisfying and rewarding part of her career has come from former students that were so influenced by the positive experience while interning that they have kept in contact. Several of her former interns have pursued careers as lawyers and some have even become colleagues. Others have followed different paths but, have become good friends. Although they work in different places now, they fondly remember a time when they worked together and the things they accomplished.

Think about the difference you are making in your intern’s life, and make it a positive one!

 

About NWC and KKC

The National Whistleblowers Center was created in 1988 as a nonprofit, non-partisan, tax exempt 501 (c)(3) educational & advocacy organization that is dedicated to protecting employees’ lawful disclosure of waste, fraud and abuse. Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP (www.kkc.com) is a Public Interest Law firm committed to representing employee whistleblowers world-wide.

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