Every week we're inundated with more news how the employment numbers are fluctuating, which is why we were intrigued by Mutineer Magazine's newest initiative to tackle milennial unemployment head-on. The beverage industry magazine recently announced a new Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the "Drink Careers 101" guide, in the hopes of mentoring 20-somethings on how to get jobs in the growing beverage industry. That includes jobs in the wine, beer, spirits, coffee, tea, and soda industries.
If Mutineer raises its $45,000 Kickstarter goal, the hope is to publish its in-depth career guide, as well as kick off a Drink Careers Speaking Engagement Tour for college students. We asked Alan Kropf, the president of Mutineer Magazine, some questions about the new project over email, and he shared how to land your dream job in the beverage industry.
The Daily Meal: What inspired the beginning of the Kickstarter and the Drink Careers 101 initiative?
Alan Kropf: Millennial college graduates are having an incredibly difficult time finding decent employment after leaving college. One in two recent graduates are either jobless or underemployed, and the situation is only getting worse. At the same time, the beverage industry has thrived throughout the recession and all signs point to this encouraging growth to continue. The problem is that unless you have a personal connection to the beverage industry, it's difficult to be aware of those career opportunities, and therefore difficult to academically prepare yourself to compete for those opportunities. Our printed guide, Drink Careers 101: How to Get a Job in the Beverage Industry, is going to change that, and we chose Kickstarter as our funding platform because we wanted this project to be open to the entire beverage industry to participate with.
TDM: What kind of impact do you see this having on millennials and unemployment in an ideal world?
AK: It's unrealistic to think that this will make a significant dent in the millennial unemployment crisis at the national level; however, this is an opportunity to create employment opportunities for a lot of college-educated millennials out there. We also believe this will have a hugely positive impact on the beverage industry itself. This is a win for everyone given how important the industry's overall economic impact, particularly with tax revenues, has become in recent years while other industries have struggled during the recession.
TDM: You say in your initiative, "Beverage careers represent a largely overlooked employment solution for millennial college graduates." Why do you think it’s been so ignored? Do you believe that mindset is changing, thanks to the "fine beverage" trend (craft beer, craft distilling, craft coffee, etc.)?
AK: The big reason is awareness, in that many students begin their college undergraduate studies prior to reaching the legal drinking age, so how can we reasonably expect them to be aware of careers in the beverage industry and structure their academic plan accordingly? In most cases you don't need to be 21 to enter a college enology program, you just aren't allowed to taste wine. I do think that the craft beer and craft spirits movements have laid a foundation for the beverage industry to be more relevant and relatable to millennials, now all that is missing in terms of beverage careers is the information for them to turn it into an amazing career, which is why we're doing the guide.
TDM: How long have you been in the beverage industry? And how did you get your start in the business?
AK: I've been in the beverage industry for seven years, and like many beverage professionals, I fell into it by chance. I moved from Seattle to Los Angeles in 2006 on a completely different career path, and attended bartending school so I could get a job as a bartender just to pay the bills, but I ended up really loving it. Before long I developed a fascination in wine, which inspired me to begin studying with the Court of Master Sommeliers and Wine & Spirit Education Trust, which led to prestigious sommelier jobs at the Beverly Hills Hotel and Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in West Hollywood. Those experiences set me down the path of becoming the beverage professional I am today.
TDM: If the Drink Careers 101 initiative is successful, do you think it would be expanded into bigger projects (i.e. career fairs)?
AK: Definitely. This is the first step of many to empower and inspire millennials to consider an incredible career in the beverage industry. Right now we're focused on this very important first step, but the possibilities for this project down the road are endless.
TDM: You say in the initiative that some sectors of the industry, i.e. the wine industry, has been closed off certain populations if they can’t relate to the lifestyle of "affluent Caucasians." How do you think that millennial involvement in the beverage industry will change that?
AK: It doesn't matter what race or gender you are, the beverage industry is home to some of the most amazing career paths you can imagine. The problem is that those millennials who fall outside of the traditional demographic need to be empowered. Less than 10 percent of head winemakers in California are women, and the number of African-American winemakers in the United States is alarmingly low. That said, some of the most talented winemakers today are women and African-Americans, so it's just a matter of empowering more of women and minorities to consider beverage careers.
TDM: Why is it so important to you, and the Mutineer team, to "mentor" these millennials and their career paths?
AK: It's part of our mission as a magazine, and with our resources and influence, it's just like the right thing to do. Our entire team is so passionate about this project, and we've brought together over 100 of our favorite beverage professionals to add their voice and expertise, so it's something that industry is excited and passionate about as well. With a need for an initiative like this so clearly obvious, we're just thankful we're in a position to help.
TDM: Do you have any personal advice for the young 20-something looking toward a career in the beverage industry? And if you could give your 20-something-self any advice given your career today, what would it be?
AK: There has never been a better time to pursue a career in the beverage industry than RIGHT NOW. Even if you are already in the industry, the opportunities to advance and move up are exciting as the industry expands at a fast rate. Non-traditional wine regions are popping up all over the United States. Craft beer is in the midst of a full-blown revolution, and the same goes for craft spirits. In terms of what you can do to set yourself up for success, what matters most is to take action and educate yourself. It doesn't have to cost much as that can start with books, magazine, blogs, and online videos. Find people in the industry to mentor you. Find certification and degree programs in the beverage field that inspires you. Of course, we're looking forward to providing all of this information in the Drink Careers 101 guide, but don't wait around for that to come out in the fall. The opportunities are out there right now, and it's up to you to go get them.