Though Matthew Bonaccorsi ‘13 now has a great job in the office of Massachusetts State Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg as Constituent Services and New Media Aide, he is no stranger to being rejected.
“In the spring following my junior year at UMass, I was rejected from every single internship I applied to in Washington, D.C.,” Bonaccorsi joked, adding “ I was pretty discouraged but I just kept at it and looked for other ways I could build my resume without going to D.C.”
So he turned to friends and connections he had made through his first three years at UMass--including a group of local Democratic activists and political staffers he was close with. When he came to them with his predicament, their answer was simple: stay in western Massachusetts and get involved with politics at a more local level. “They basically explained that it was easier to move up the ranks in Western Massachusetts because there are fewer people and more grassroots activism out here,” he recalls.
It was this blessing in disguise that led him to apply for a campaign internship in the summer of 2012, quickly landing an internship with the Elizabeth Warren for U.S senate campaign.
“The great thing about campaigns is that they are always searching for qualified people, and so by proving your worth you can get a staff position relatively quickly,” he explained.
From there, Bonaccorsi made what he considers one of the most important decisions of his undergraduate career: forgoing the fall semester of his senior year at UMass to instead work full-time on the Warren campaign.
“I really recommend working on a campaign, even for those who aren’t interested in it as a career--it’s a great way to build connections and your resume at the same time,” Bonaccorsi said.
While on the campaign, he quickly learned that one of the most important components of the job had nothing to do with politics.
“It sounds obvious, but it’s really important to just be personable and show people you are willing to put in the effort - return phone calls, write thank you notes. Political circles tend to be quite small, and it doesn’t take many successes - or mistakes - to gain a reputation,” he added.
While his time with the Warren campaign was one of his most formative experiences at UMass, it was not his only experience with politics during his undergraduate career. During his first two years, he interned during the summer in the offices of State Representative Carl Sciortino of Medford and Senate Majority Leader (and current boss) Stan Rosenberg.
Bonaccorsi also credits his time as President of the UMass College Democrats and in the classroom as important for both his professional and personal development. It was while working locally with the UMass Democrats that he met some of the party-activists that eventually advised him to apply to the Warren campaign.
And his time in the classroom serves him well to this day.
“I often find many of the political theory classes that I took at UMass really helpful when speaking with voters who are unhappy with the government,” he says. “Many times, people just need a bit of explanation about how a specific program or office functions to shift their viewpoint from us being the "bad guy" to us being a partner that they can work with,” he says.
Bonaccorsi encourages students to take classes with a number of faculty, including Professor John Brigham and Professor Michael Hannahan of the Political Science department. With Brigham, Bonaccorsi admired the “unique and eye-opening way” he deals with issues in politics, while Hannahan helped to provide “real, front-line stories about how state politics actually work.”
He also advises students to stand up for causes that are important to and effect them directly particularly student loans and college affordability. “These battles are being fought day-in and day-out on Beacon and Capitol Hill, and the only voice that’s going to really change the conversation is that of students,” he urged.
In his current position in the office of Senator Rosenberg, every day is different. Some days, Bonaccorsi says, he’s in the State House all day, answering calls and emails from constituents and legislative liaisons . Other days, he’s travelling across the state with the Senator for meetings and policy briefings, all while posting about it on social media.
As for the future, Bonaccorsi is still weighing his options --perhaps law school, or other graduate study in the Boston or Washington, D.C. area--but he isn’t worried.
“As for now, I’m enjoying my job very much and still learning every day, so I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon!”
James Fahey ‘15
- Alumni News