College graduate Juli Gamba returned to college for a Human Services certificate, and got a hands-on experience as an intern for the Front Door Agency in Nashua, an organization that supports individuals and families in transition.
“I was immediately hooked with the Front Door Agency, which supports single mothers in their paths to self-sufficiency after leaving unhealthy situations. It’s been a great learning experience so far, I love it,” said Juli, who is set to graduate from Nashua Community College this May, adding a Human Services certificate to her Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Graphic Design.
“I started my certificate relatively soon after finishing my bachelor’s degree. I’m usually one to take a long time to think over big changes, but this time I just kind of went for it,” she said. “When I was doing my bachelor’s degree, I had a few internship experiences doing graphic design and communications, and a few were for human service focused nonprofits. I always loved professional experiences with agencies with social justice and social service aspects to them. It was not until I graduated and had an experience in a very corporate environment, that I realized I missed the client-facing experience.”
Pivoting to Human Services, Juli found there was a lot to learn, but the internship experience has helped. “I’m so new to the field, and there’s been a lot of opportunities to learn – even with just the nitty gritty of case management and taking notes, there’s been a bit of a learning curve,” she said, adding she’s met challenges with a lot of enthusiasm, “I’ve been so excited about it.”
Juli enrolled in the certificate to bridge her bachelor’s degree experience to a master’s degree in clinic and mental health counseling, and as she said, “To get more of a feel for the field of human services. Since I started, I’m more interested in case management, working with a specific population and the kind of approach someone can take with that type of work. It’s opened me up.”
After NCC, Juli intends to explore master’s degree programs in clinical mental health counseling, with an exact program to-be-determined.
To students considering an internship, Juli advocates for leaving their comfort zone. “Pick something that will give you the biggest range of learning experiences possible and the most opportunity to learn,” she said.
“For me, what I was looking for was something that would let me learn as much as possible, not something I was already comfortable with. Something completely new. One of the goals I had going into it was – because I hadn’t thought of a specific population and work environment I wanted to go into – I wanted to get a better grasp of narrowing down that field a little. I think picking something that would allow me to work in many aspects of human services was helpful. I do a little bit of everything there – work one-on-one with clients, documentation, administrative tasks, and sometimes I’m shadowing other workers in the transitional housing department.”
Professor Jayne Barnes who supervises the internship course, praised Juli for sharing new perspectives, energy and specialized skill sets at her internship. “Juli’s creativity and initiative has allowed her to explore other ways she can use what Juli has termed ‘her seemingly unrelated work experience in writing and design’ throughout her journey in human services,” said Barnes. “Resilient, mature, reliable and curious, Juli applies the competencies we discuss in our internship classes to her work at the Front Door. The importance of one of these competencies, documentation, was recently explored where she asked a case manager on how she goes about documenting and organizing her progress with clients. This information then provided relevant context to our in-class discussions as well as to the writing of her own progress notes required for successful completion of the course.”
Learn more about the certificate and associate degree in Human Services at NCC by contacting the admissions team at [email protected] or 603.578.8908.