Did the reality of the dream craft beer internship live up to its hype?

In 2016, the Florida-based craft beer-based company made headlines when it announced what amounted to a dream internship for any beer lover. As stated in their official press release, they offered the chance for three beer fans to earn free beer, travel expenses, and $12,000 throughout a single summer for lucky interns that would “live, drink, and share the best of the beer world with brew lovers everywhere.”

As you’d expect, thousands of people applied. In the end, three winners won the first internship. The program was ultimately so successful the company held a second version in the following year when four winners (one winning application included a pair of best friends). What was the internship all about, and did the experience live up to the hype? We’ve got the details.

About the internship

The internship experience was sponsored by World of Beer, a corporate chain of larger-scale craft beer bars/restaurants that maintains 53 locations in the United States as well as locations abroad in China, and South Korea. With restaurants generally featuring 300 beers and 50 fresh beers on tap, World of Beer was looking to promote both its offerings and the merits of craft beer overall.

“The interns that were selected would be tasked with using their talents to showcase a variety of beer communities and offer a behind the scenes look at beer the company served.”

The internship sought participants with knowledge about and a passion for craft beer and who had social media, photography, and storytelling skills. The interns that were selected would be tasked with using their talents to showcase a variety of beer communities and offer a behind the scenes look at beer the company served. Those winners, dubbed the “drink it interns,” would work from May through August.

Application rules challenged the perception of beer drinkers

From the first moment it was announced, the internship instantly succeeded in a significant accomplishment: it challenged the perceptions that the general public has about who beer drinkers should be. Applications were open to anyone over 21 years of age who was available to travel. That’s it.

Both men and women who were older undergraduate and postgraduate students were welcomed to apply. So were middle-aged beer geeks looking for a career change, retirees, and just about anyone else who was interested. The range of possibilities was endless.

A detailed and thoughtful selection process

Choosing three winners wasn’t easy for World of Beer marketing staff. The intern job description was tantalizing for beer lovers and received significant coverage in social media and beer publications, regional newspapers, and large national outlets like Travel and Leisure, Thrillist, Vice.com, and ABC news. As a result, the contest drew more than 7,000 applications in the second year alone.

BHH Singapore / Unsplash

As part of the initial application process, anyone wanting to be an intern needed to demonstrate both their passion for craft beer and how their video skills paired with their online savvy.

Candidates were asked to create a one minute video showing their beer experience and then to publicize it through online channels. The more widely a video was shared, the more likely a candidate would move on to the next phase of selection. A quick search of social media posts on the topic shows the examples of some candidate’s efforts to get noticed.

Word of Beer participation

Successful finalists were asked to join an in-person panel interview at a World of Beer location. They were asked to let their personalities and passion for beer shine. World of Beer restaurant guests were invited to watch the process, see how the candidates did, and contribute their votes for successful candidates.

“As expected, the internship candidate judges took their job to heart.”

While they could have focused on people who looked good on Instagram, instead, they looked for people who they felt could be counted on to produce excellent craft beer content. They wanted compelling, watchable stories from people who were great at interviewing and getting to what was behind craft beer brands.

Winners were true craft beer fans from around the United States

Ultimately, winners were comprised of a group that took their mission as craft beer ambassadors to heart and sincerely, but with a sense of fun that was contagious. They also demonstrated another selection attribute — they represented regions throughout the United States.

In 2017, for example, winners were from Hollywood, California, Texas, and Massachusetts.

“This geographically diverse pool of interns served a purpose. It allowed the company to showcase a range of stories behind iconic craft beer brands and base them on specific parts of the country.”

This geographically diverse pool of interns allowed the company to showcase a range of stories behind iconic craft beer brands and base them on specific parts of the country. Story possibilities included information about beer founders, what it took to run some major craft beer festivals, and what the craft beer experience is like in countries around the world.

The geographic locations for each winner served a second purpose — it broadened the reach that interns could develop their audience from. A Texas audience might follow stories from their state more closely, for example. Alternatively, a New England audience might be interested in interns from Massachusetts.

Being an intern wasn’t always easy, it was fulfilling

While it sounds improbable, a dream internship being paid good money to drink beer was harder than it looked.

It required skills, knowledge, finesse, and a degree of talent — not just expertise at beer pong or the ability to manage a beer buzz.

Winners had to draw on their talent to tell stories that get noticed, liked, and shared online — to create stories that do more than look good but that share the details of a culture and teach a wide range of people about something new.

An insider’s view

Ben Lolli, a 2016 intern, talked about how much of the internship is work in an article he wrote for the Denver-based online magazine PorchDrinking. As he explained, there’s more to the experience than the beer tasting, the behind-the-scenes brewery and festival access, and the chance to meet well-known members of the brewing industry.

“There’s also the time and effort that it takes to do film and edit professional-level video, to conduct substantial interviews that interest people and show new, relevant stories.”

While it is an effort, it is possibly the best kind of effort. The interns undoubtedly found their work fulfilling, and it helped them to broaden their knowledge of craft beer, expand their public profile, and strengthen their media and communications skills.

While it wasn’t always pint glasses and parties, it was possibly something more profound than that, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that they would repeat if given a chance.

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