Why internships are such important places of learning for High School students.

Zelia Gonzales speaking at the national America Walks Conference in Washington D.C. Last year she presented on youth engagement in city planning and creating policy.

Zelia Gonzales speaking at the national America Walks Conference in Washington D.C. Last year she presented on youth engagement in city planning and creating policy.

The educational freedom allowed by internships at the Met Sacramento High School helped me rule out a lot of the career paths I thought I wanted and instead helped me discover my passion for public service.

My freshman year, I started off interning in an elementary classroom, which was really tough, and I quickly left to work with my school's bike shop until the end of the year. I felt like I learned everything I could from my mentors there when I was suggested for an internship with Sol Collective, an Arts, Culture, and Activism Community Center. I realized here that I loved serving my community and interacting with my neighbors, but the lack of structure pushed me away from many grassroots non-profits.

After bringing a project to my council member about something I was working on my Sophomore year summer, I was offered an internship in his office at the City of Sacramento. I was nervous to take it, because it seemed boring and I wouldn't actually get to make any change, but I am so grateful I did. I have been with the City of Sacramento now two years and they immediately thrust responsibility on me. I have been able to help with constituent cases, plan events in my community, work on legislation and even help with the Mayor's Minimum Wage Task Force.

These experiences, especially in economics, has helped me choose my college and my pathway in college. I will be going to school for Industrial and Labor Relations in the fall and I wouldn't have had the experiences that helped my college applications or that helped me decide I wanted to do that without each one of my internships. 

Here is a picture with my principal Vince Wolfe. I led two voter registration drives, the first of which led the CA Secretary of State to declare two weeks at the beginning of September as statewide high school voter registration weeks. We are taking a picture with that resolution after being recognized by Sacramento County for our work registering students.