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5 in 5! with Bill of Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

February 27, 2012

Human Rights Initiative of North TexasHuman Rights Initiative of North Texas, Inc. (@hrionline) is a non-profit organization that provides free legal assistance to refugees and immigrants in the North Texas area who are the victims of human rights abuses. Read about their internship here.

Bill Holston is a Dallas attorney who has a special passion for helping vulnerable people seeking refuge in the United States. Since 1987, Mr. Holston has provided pro bono legal representation for political and religious asylum applicants from 18 countries in Immigration Court. He has volunteered his services for HRI for the past 10 years. In 1995, Mr. Holston was awarded the Angel of Freedom Award by HRI, because of his commitment to provide pro bono services to clients. Because of a generous gift from Charlie and Meredith Stimson, two of Mr. Holston’s clients, HRI”s pro bono program is named the William O. Holston Jr. Pro Bono Program.

Bill Holston, Executive Director1. How did you get started in the industry? How can someone who is interested in your work get started?
I have been doing asylum work for over 20 years on a volunteer basis. I now am able to do this full time. The best way to start is with volunteer effort.

2. What do you think is the future of your industry?
There will sadly always be human rights abuses, and therefore there will always be a strong need within the community to support the critical work of nonprofit agencies.

3. What do you look for when you hire an intern or entry-level candidate?
A strong skill set, a professional attitude, a willingness to learn and an active interest in human rights.

4. What is one thing an intern can do to make a favorable impression?
Be knowledgeable about our agency and send a thank you note after an interview.

5. Can you share a positive intern story and an intern horror story? No names needed…
Positive intern story:
One summer, we had a legal assistant intern who learned all the duties of our legal assistant, including screening clients, putting together packets, scheduling appointments, calling clients with questions, and more. She went over and above these job duties, and was always eager to learn and do more, whether it was an interesting or more mundane (but necessary) task. She performed so well that when our legal assistant had to be out of the office for a day, she was able to effectively take over and ensure everything still ran smoothly. It went off without a hitch, and she did a fantastic job! She sent us a thank you card later saying she had learned so much that summer and couldn’t wait to volunteer for us again, and we still keep in touch with her.

Intern horror story:
One semester, we had an intern tasked with an important project we really hoped would help our agency, but even with clear instructions and goals set for the semester, she needed to be told exactly what to do on a daily basis in order to get anything accomplished, and even then she didn’t always do what she was told. It was frustrating for us because it meant having to constantly be pulled away from our work to talk to her and ensure she was working on something, and in the end the project was not completed to our satisfaction. She was a very smart and nice person, but you could tell had little confidence in her work or ability to take initiative. She said she had a great experience, but we unfortunately did not.

Thank you Bill for your insight. Human Rights Initiative of North Texas is currently hiring interns.

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