Nancy Afonso had it all figured out. During the summer leading into her senior year, the political science major would take her dream internship as a press intern for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. She had a great referral from Suffolk’s Public Affairs Office and was ready for her big break.

Then, her dream was taken away. The press office overbooked its interns and she didn’t get the internship.
Afonso, a political science major who also minors in communication, was devastated. She had stellar credentials and what she felt was a winning essay, but hadn’t once considered the possibility of missing out on the internship.

“I thought, ‘What do I do now?’ I don’t want to spend an idle summer not contributing to my future,” Afonso says. She didn’t know it yet, but her future would be just fine.

The press office had forwarded her resume to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism for a spot in its summer internship program. At first, Afonso couldn’t work up much excitement about a job at the state agency dedicated to promoting Massachusetts as a leisure-travel destination, but she took the interview. Two weeks later, she was hired as a marketing intern.

It wasn’t her dream job, but she was ready to make the best of the new opportunity. “You grow and you learn a lot in just a few months when you deal with this type of situation,” Afonso says.

As a marketing intern, Afonso was able to “dabble” in different areas, traveling to various events across Boston and Massachusetts. She snapped photos and interviewed acts at the Outside the Box festival, contributed to the tourism office’s annual Mass Jazz brochure, and helped construct public displays for several of the Commonwealth’s libraries featuring products made by Massachusetts companies.

The internship allowed Afonso to work under professionals with varying areas of expertise, which helped her learn more about what type of work best suited her. She also developed strong connections with her fellow interns, who came from colleges across the city and the country.

But the woman who, as a kid, stole her dad’s newspapers and fell asleep with Fox News or MSNBC on the television, wasn’t going to give up the fight for her dream internship.

With stronger credentials and recommendations from two colleagues at the tourism office who were former State House staffers, she reapplied for an internship in the Governor’s Press Office. This time, she got it. She’ll spend the fall traveling with Governor Patrick to various events around the Commonwealth, drafting press releases, handling reporters, and taking on other tasks on the State House’s front lines.

“I’m a firm believer in ‘things happen for a reason,’” she says.