How Sloop is Setting up Diversity Interns for Career Options

Called Open Waters, Sloop Brewing’s successful internship program has opened the door to many new individuals that had not had an opportunity to work for a craft brewery. Placing four interns into the craft beer industry already, the brewery is heading toward its sixth intern beginning in April. Although a lot of work, Sloop’s Director of Operations Alyssa McAuley said that​ tweaks have been made each quarter to improve both the program.​

“In terms of functionality and the ability to have somebody complete something in three months while having their legs kind of beneath them enough to be able to place them in the industry … that was kind of what we were the most uncertain about at the beginning,” she said. “How do we make three months enough time so that we can have as many interns as we want and also make sure they’re leaving us in a position where they feel comfortable applying to jobs. 

“That’s something that we found a lot of success with and we’re really proud of it. The ability of us to build out this program and to train somebody in three months with enough experience that they can place. It’s hard work, but learning that much in three months is crazy. We’ve had some really awesome people come through here so far.”

Interns must commit to at least 20 paid hours a week over three months, and applications are being accepted year-round ​to be​ applied to the applicant pool ​for the closest upcoming quarter for consideration.​ ​The 2021 interns have gone on to begin careers at Talea Beer Co., Industrial Arts, & Arrowood Farm Brewery. ​The brewery boasts that each intern has left their time at Sloop with a skillset thoughtfully tailored to meet their unique, individual goals. These long-term goals include brewery ownership, full-time careers in production, & industry consultation.

READ MORE: Internships: A Positively Shared Experience

​”I think what’s very unique about the program is that they’re physically operating the machinery or doing the tasks,” McAuley said. “Some things that we’ve tweaked is the amount of time that each intern spends in each section of the internship. 

“So there’s the packaging section, the cellaring section, and the brewhouse section.​”

The application process is three steps. It starts with a written application, which is posted online.

“It’s to get to know folks a little bit better, get to know their interests, get to know their aspirations,” McAuley said. 

The second step of the application process is an assessment, which is strictly so the Sloop team can gauge where the applicant’s level of knowledge would begin.

“That way, we can tailor our training properly,” McAuley said. 

After the assessment, they move to interviews.

“As long as everybody completes the assessment they usually move to interviews because the assessment is only used to kind of get a foundation,” McAuley said. “Interviews span several weeks for us and we interview a lot of candidates and kind of look for what they want out of the program. 

“I think it’s one of the biggest things for us, what the program could do for them in terms of any career goals they might have or aspirations. What we’re looking for is to provide an opportunity to folks that they might not have had before. So that’s kind of our main focus, finding somebody who we could allow where they might not be given that same opportunity, or may have been facing a barrier to finding placement anywhere in the industry. And we can help them find it here.”

Sloop currently produces about 35,000 barrels per year and McAuley admitted that some smaller breweries may not have the manpower to run individual department sections of training as they do, but for regional-sized breweries, it should be a goal to look to help diversify the industry going forward.

“I think that the brewing industry could certainly use a larger workforce with some additional perspective and we just would love to be a part of helping anyone receive that opportunity that may have been previously denied to them,” McAuley said. “Having experience as a barrier to entry is very real and it makes sense because people are working with dangerous or heavy machinery and you want people to have experience, but how do they get it? 

“If they don’t have connections or if they don’t have a foot in the door, that’s super important to us is being that foot in the door for people by providing them an experience that will allow them to be placed in a position they might not have had before. And become a part of actively working towards an industry that is more inclusive and having a workforce that is more populous and willing to come in and give new ideas and new perspectives.”

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