BUSINESS

Column: Life lessons learned working at a North Carolina brewery

Kelly Zeidner
Oxford Stories
knzeidne@go.olemiss.edu

Three months working at a brewery teaches more than just the art of beer. At the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte, North Carolina, the growing company continues to excel in all categories.

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, or better known as OMB, was the first local brewery in Charlotte in 2009. Since then, numerous breweries have popped up around the area, but OMB still leads the competition through their classic German beer styles.

Aside from the beer and brewers itself, much more is involved in the business than most would expect. To make the operation run smoothly, there is a team of employees eager to succeed. This is what made me interested in working in this environment. I like to surround myself with motivated people, and after seeing the workplace I knew I would enjoy it.

I was lucky enough to know the founder of the brewery since he was a close family friend. Seeing the hard work he put in to get the business started was a great experience.

After months of looking for summer internships, it dawned upon me to reach out to the founder to see if there would be any possibility of a job for me. I knew there was a marketing department at OMB so I was able to get in contact with the manager and set up an interview. Shortly after I was offered a summer 2017 internship.

Before the summer started, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew nothing about the beer industry, let alone anything restaurant- and bar-related. I also was not a huge fan of beer, so I was nervous I would not fit in.

My first week on the job, I was introduced to nearly everyone who worked at the brewery. The HR manager wanted me to gain as much as I could out of this experience, so I met with everyone from the brewers and the event team to the waitresses. The office and the restaurant work together to ensure that the best product is going out to local customers.

In my marketing department, I worked with the manager and graphic designer. As a team, I was the right hand in anything they needed assistance with.

I was exposed to all aspects of marketing. I learned photography and videography, writing press releases and social media posts. I was given full control of the monthly newsletter which I re-designed and created all content for. I also created a “brand guide” all employees must read when hired at OMB.

Another exciting task I was given was to plan the summer block party in the neighborhood where OMB is located. I reached out to all the stores, bars and restaurants in the area to see if they wanted to be involved. Then I planned bi-weekly meetings with everyone involved and helped lead them.

This gave me the experience of public speaking and interaction with other business professionals. I also was in charge of organizing all vendors for the block party and children’s activities. Unfortunately, I had to head back to school before the event happened, but I stayed in contact with everyone and I know the event went smoothly.

My boss in the marketing department was an amazing mentor who let me be independent and was not there to walk me through everything step by step. I think this approach is best because it allows people to be creative on their own and learn from mistakes. Because of this, I will be able to succeed in my future careers whether it’s with OMB or at a different business.

Along with marketing, I assisted in events at the brewery and outside the brewery. Through this, I made connections with businesses in Charlotte, my hometown. Getting a wide range of experiences was my favorite part of the internship.

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Everyone who worked at the brewery was always so welcoming. While the industry is very male dominated, I never felt out of place. The employees work around core values, and those really showed in everything everyone did. It was really like a family.

Employees get the perk of free beer, so after work on Thursdays or Fridays, everyone in the offices headed over to the restaurant and bar to grab a drink. A saying of “work hard play hard” seemed to be the motto around the office. I definitely learned a lot about myself and other people from this internship.

The experience I gained from working at OMB is one I will never forget. I have numerous pieces of work to show future employers, and I have had experiences many may not have received at college internships. I am excited to see where this will take me in my future.

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