Graphic Design Intern Gains Real-World Work Experience Thanks to Pre-ETS Program

Gabriel aspires to a career in film and graphic design, and with the help of VersAbility Resources, he spent the summer as an intern gaining hands-on, practical work experience.

VersAbility’s Pre-ETS program offers students with disabilities the chance to explore and prepare for adult life by participating in professional education and training programs. Pre-ETS is a steppingstone for VersAbility’s Supported Employment program that works with the adult population in the school system by helping those individuals find their interests and develop employable skills based on them.

Gabriel was a graphic design intern at Consociate Media.

“It was pretty great,” Gabriel said. “I liked how all the mentors helped me there.”

Gabriel worked alongside Consociate graphic designers Jeff Phillips and Amber Wyatt.

“I learned how to create business cards and posters,” said Gabriel, who primarily relied on Illustrator and Photoshop.

Ultimately, Gabriel wants to work as a graphic designer for animation in the movies. He’s a particular fan of the style used in “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”

VersAbility is eager to develop more partnerships with local employers to create more career opportunities for people with disabilities.

“This professional experience was able to give Gabriel exposure to a marketing environment,” said Sydney Smith, Employment Specialist at VersAbility. “We are so happy to work with Consociate Media and develop relationships outside of entry-level job environments.  The students we work with possess a wide array of talents and interests. The sky is the limit for them.”

If you are an employer interested in becoming a partner in VersAbility’s Pre-ETS program, contact Vickie Greatwood, Director of Supported Employment at 757-896-8444 or email

Tabb Senior Grateful for Hands-on Summer Internship

Tabb High School senior Angelina Pearsall didn’t want a summer internship that chained her to a desk. She wants a career in construction, so it’s no surprise she’d rather be outdoors than in.

VersAbility Resources made her its very first Facilities Intern.

“Once she was out in the field, you just saw her light up,” said Vickie Greatwood, VersAbility’s Director of Supported Employment. “She went out to mow the grass and do some landscaping. At the very end of the day, I asked her how it went.”

Pearsall’s responded, “I got dirty!”

“She was very excited to show me her clothes were dirty,” Greatwood recalled. “You could see a whole new person blossoming. We call her ‘Miss VersAbility,’ because she has just jumped right in with so much enthusiasm with everything we have asked her to do.”

Angelina Pearsall pointing to equipment in a construction facility.

Pearsall is part of the nonprofit’s Pre-Employment Transition Services program, which teaches soft and technical skills by offering students paid internships. Students are referred to VersAbility by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.

“The goal of the program is to give students stackable skills that they can carry with them so that when they graduate high school, they have some tools under their belt for the workforce,” Greatwood said. “We try to help them identify their interests, explore careers and then they have an opportunity to try an internship and earn a paycheck.”

Every day varied for Pearsall. Some days she fiddled with a finicky HVAC system. Other times she broke down tables and chairs. One project involved relocating frogs back to their natural habitat in a creek near VersAbility’s Hampton office.

Pearsall repaired an air compressor. She’s done car maintenance and sanded railings. She assigned employees company cars and gas cards, tracking requests and following up when necessary.

Angelina Pearsall working on equipment in a construction facility

She’s redone mulch and  trimmed hedges. Pearsall points to the tidy flower beds outside the main entrance, her work after a morning of weeding.

“I enjoy working with my hands,” she said. “It could be really anything.”

When asked about her favorite day of the internship, Pearsall reflects back on an afternoon when she was outdoors and it began to rain. Instead of racing inside, she listened.

She heard.

Pearsall heard the rain while being outdoors for the very first time. New hearing aids allowed her to enjoy the patter that a soft rain makes when falling from the sky.

“It was like having my own radio,” she said. “It was fascinating to me — a new sound.”

Angelina Pearsall walking down a hallway in a VersAbility office

Pearsall also enjoyed learning about ways to better interact with people with disabilities. She had never thought to crouch when talking with a disabled person in a wheelchair. Rather than having that person continually look up, “it’s important to be on their level so you can be face-to-face,” she said.

Pearsall is excited to graduate from Tabb in 2022 to pursue a future that includes woodworking, pipefitting and brick masonry. She’s grateful for her summer experience, adding, “VersAbility is such a welcoming place.”

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