Rachael Silverstein here, bringing you one of the most important lessons that my copywriting internship at Brownstein Group has taught me.

As a graduating senior, I’ve heard the whole “you gotta network to get work” spiel once or twice before. In the past, I’ve kicked myself over missed opportunities to use my connections.  But what I’ve learned by getting and succeeding at my internship is that (unless you make a habit of burning bridges) there’s not always an expiration date on connections in the industry. Once you make a good impression, people are usually eager to help—even if it’s not right away.

Let’s rewind to May of 2012. I was a confident-on-the-outside, terrified-on-the-inside sophomore, participating in my very first Portfolio Night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Okay, maybe I looked a little nervous...

Okay, maybe I looked a little terrified on the outside…

Throughout the night, I met with probably five creatives from agencies from around the city. They said nice (for the most part) things about my work, but I was young, and that reminder seemed to be all I was going to leave with. Until I met Colleen.

She saw my age not as a deterrent, but a reason to see a lot of potential in me. (She was, however, my last meeting of the night, and there was wine in her hand. But never mind that.) A few months and many persistent emails later, I was offered a copywriting internship at Brownstein Group for the fall of 2012.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that I was planning a very expensive semester abroad in Australia, I ended up turning it down last minute in favor of a better paying internship. I crafted a creative and cleverly worded email explaining my situation and desire to come back at a later time, but I never received a response. I figured I’d burned a bridge, and I all but crossed Brownstein off my list of potential agencies to work at.

Fast forward to October of 2013. I found out that Kenny Kim, one of Brownstein’s Associate Creative Directors who had interviewed me more than a year ago, was coming into my Campaigns class at Temple to help judge our big ideas. Initially, I panicked. I thought it would be awkward, and I wasn’t happy with the work my team had produced at that time. Then I thought, “Wait, I’m always awkward! Who cares?!” I promptly forwarded my resume and cover letter to Mara, Brownstein’s HR person, and reached out to Kenny.

I didn’t expect him to remember me fondly (or at all). But to my surprise, he did. His humorous and inviting response sent me to the drawing board. I managed to whip up a concept for our Subaru campaign that everyone loved, including Kenny and the National Ad Manager of the brand.

When I followed up about the possibility of an internship for spring of 2014, he told me that I had really impressed Colleen at portfolio night (no easy feat, apparently), and that I didn’t even have to interview again.

Long story short: just because you aren’t able to use someone as a connection right at this very moment, it’s so important to keep in touch. You never know, they might help you score an internship—or a job—two years down the line.

And don’t assume, like I did, that people will forget who you are. This happened to me recently at the TADA Awards. I saw Ben Dailey, who was TAC Agency Director when I was a freshman at Temple. He’s now a Digital Marketing Strategist at MRM//McCann, so I figured he wouldn’t remember little ol’ copywriting me. As he was introducing himself to some of my classmates, I reached out a hand and said, “I’m Rachael…I don’t know if—“. To my surprise, he did. He gave me a big hug, even bigger advice, and another example to support this very important point I’m making to all of you.