Loyola Marymount University (LMU) senior Daniel Gonzalez had an opportunity to apply the theories of political science he is learning by working as an intern in the Office of International Trade in Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s administration.

Gonzalez’s responsibilities included research and business planning, and meeting with dignitaries such as the governor of Baja California. He wrote briefings for Villaraigosa, created PowerPoint presentations for foreign investors and collected polling data.

“I was always learning something new,” he said. “[It was] by far the best internship I have had. It harnessed my skills and exposed me to the political life and allowed me to network with powerful and influential people.

“The biggest skills I gained were the more practical ones — better communication skills and the ethics of working in a professional environment.”

Gonzalez, a political science major, acted as a liaison for his supervisor, Dario Gomez, director of the city’s Office of International Trade, by attending meetings with the United States- Mexico Chamber of Commerce. The group was planning an inaugural international trade exposition and needed a location for the event.

Gonzalez suggested LMU and worked with the university’s Office of Community and Government Relations to make that possible. The event last fall drew more than 200 guests from the international trade community.

“Danny was a superb addition,” said Gomez. “He added a lot of value to our office and has a bright future in international trade. His studies at LMU were put to use well here.”

Gonzalez is a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and has served as a resident advisor for the past two years. He is a board member of the Mexican Professional Network and volunteers with Dolores Mission’s mentoring program in Boyle Heights. His leadership and academic performance have led to multiple scholarships, including the Mexican American Alumni Scholarship and the Jesuit Community Scholarship.

“LMU helped me construct a strong work ethic, and provided me with the necessary resources,” Gonzalez said. “My studies from various classes, combined with seminars presented by the Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles on topics ranging from race relations to the effects of the port of Los Angeles on the economy, were the foundation of my political interest.”

Gonzalez plans to pursue a career in Latin American international trade and has a word of advice for his peers: “Get an internship. Experience is needed to back up the degree.”