The work of an extern can be challenging, yet rewarding. Just ask Jacq Congello, who completed a business law externship with Children’s Minnesota this summer.
“At any given time, I could get projects from the legal group, the compliance group, the privacy officer, or the general counsel,” Congello said. “I had to really work to prioritize assignments and stay in communication with others to keep them updated on my progress.”
Though she was busy, Congello said she wouldn’t change a thing about her experience at the hospital.
“I loved being able to shadow the privacy officer at different privacy and compliance meetings and listen to legal discussions with different parties involved - some corporate departments and some outside counsel,” she said. “I liked seeing how different parts of the corporate structure work together to achieve their goals.”
Balancing many responsibilities is something Congello is accustomed to. In addition to being a third-year law student, she is the president of the St. Thomas Asian Pacific American Law Student Alliance; the chief articles editor for the St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy; a research assistant for St. Thomas Law’s Mentor Program; and the diversity and inclusion representative for the law school’s student government board, just to name a few of her many activities. Congello also sits on the membership committee for the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
She pursued the position with Children’s Minnesota as part of St. Thomas Law’s Externship Program, which offers law students the opportunity to explore different career areas. The externships also provide students with relevant professional experience, which in Congello’s case meant learning what it is like to work as a lawyer and corporate compliance officer for a healthcare provider.
“I worked on a variety of different projects,” she said. “I was able to work on copyright projects, guardianship matters, and got a lot of experience doing HIPAA and privacy-related projects. I also was able to work on a project involving bylaws and corporate structure.”
Further, externships give students a chance to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained in their law classes.
“My Lawyering Skills class has definitely helped when it comes to research,” Congello said. “Additionally, the lessons from Professor Neil Hamilton's Ethical Leadership in Organizations course have become more apparent in my externship. I am constantly aware of meeting my client at their level and understanding corporate culture.”
Looking back on her two-and-a-half months at Children’s Minnesota, Congello said her externship helped her to solidify the type of position she would like to work in and the company she would like to work for after graduation.
"My experience confirmed that someday I would like to work in a corporate setting like Children’s," she said. "I found that I am really passionate about privacy work and am intrigued by how privacy works with legal, business associates and all other departments in an organization."