An Internship Leads to a Career Serving Children

By Jim Campbell

When Gabrielle Milano was a junior in college, she participated in an eight-week internship at Kids Company in London, a nonprofit social charity serving inner-city youths. Her responsibilities revolved around providing secondary school students with positive life experiences. She assisted them with resume building, dressing for success, interviewing skills and completing their college applications. Additionally, she helped organize career shadowing, apprenticeships and internships where students could gain practical hands-on experience in the field of their choice.

Positive experiences for young gang members in some of the low-income areas of the city,” said Milano. “They would get a free meal and could participate in a variety of activities. For the girls, the program offered arts and crafts, painting nails and group therapy discussions. For the boys, a former professional boxer would donate his time to teach boxing as a way to channel their anger in a positive way.”

In her senior year, Milano had a supervised yearlong internship in a residential treatment facility in Burlington, Vt., for children from ages 7 to 14 who have significant mental health or behavioral needs. She was in a family reunification program with children who had experienced trauma in their lives. Milano worked alongside behavioral interventionists and clinicians to provide holistic treatment to aid clients in the healing and stabilization process.

Her educational experiences and internships strengthened her desire to serve children who experienced trauma. She is passionate about seeing all children get a quality education and receiving the help they need to succeed in life.

Milano, who will graduate in July from the School Counseling Fellows program, was in the sixth cohort of students and her cousin’s husband, Peter Dittmar, was in the first class. The 15-month degree program prepares counselors to work in urban school districts.

“I knew the program would be hard,” she said, “but I also knew I would get the best preparation to help students in all situations.”

Milano said she learned early on that educators cannot give up on kids. “There will always be kids who fall through the cracks, but the question for me is how am I, as a school counselor, going to use every resource available to prevent that from happening?”

Her inspiration to enter school counseling started with her own high school experience. “I’ll never forget Mr. Tolson. Students knew him to be someone who had their best interests at heart and would do whatever he could to help.”

Milano said that since completing the fellows program this summer, her views of school counseling have changed from her high school days.

“I had a romanticized version of what was involved. There’s so much more. It’s about data, it’s about creating an equitable environment, and it’s about making sure all populations in your school have the support they need to be successful. The goals are different for every student.”

Milano said she hopes to work in an urban area. “I love the diversity you get in an urban setting. For me, the fellows program has lit the fire, and now I cannot wait to start practicing and applying what I’ve learned. I have grown personally and professionally from all the experiences in my life, and I want to use what I’ve learned to be the best counselor I can be.”

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Gabrielle Milano

photo by John Robertson