The fifth cohort of the Brewers Association’s (BA) Mentorship Program began in March with three exciting changes—improvements to the mentorship rotation format, a new software platform to streamline mentoring interactions, and a cohort featuring the largest number of women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color), and participants from the southern United States to date.
First launched in the spring of 2020, the BA Mentorship Program is designed to further professional development in craft brewing for participants through an intensive mentorship experience. Each participant has the opportunity to collaborate with a slate of experienced mentors in diverse areas of interest over the course of multiple mentoring rotations. Previous cohorts completed five two-week mentoring rotations. Beginning with this Spring 2023 cohort, the program will feature three three-week rotations instead of the five, allowing for more time with mentors in key areas of most importance to each participant. The new format will also incorporate longer breaks between rotations.
“This gives them more time with their mentors and allows them to hone in on subjects they care most about,” says Alana Koenig-Busey, BA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Project Coordinator and Mentorship Program Director. “Before, people might just pick topics to fill their schedule, and their hearts weren’t really in it. We want to make sure people get the most out of the program, and they can talk with mentors about topics they want to learn about. It’s all part of making it easier for participants and mentors to learn and enjoy the program.”
The Together mentoring software platform is also new to this cohort. The software uses a pairing algorithm to match mentors and mentees based on goals, skills, and more. Together is used by Discovery Channel, Kellogg’s, and a range of other companies. Koenig-Busey said Together integrates with online calendars to help better schedule sessions and make each learning component more seamless. Together helps pair participants with their areas of interest and will help track development. “Overall, it’s an overhaul that benefits everyone,” she said.
Koenig-Busey is happy to have a lot of participants who were encouraged by someone involved in the program, whether a mentor or former participant, to apply. She says the program is reaching new people through new channels, with more people from different areas applying. The fall 2022 cohort featured the largest group of participants in the brewery start-up track to date, as well as more participants in the brewery administration specialization of the advancing professionals track than previous cohorts.
Empowerment through Mentorship
Developed by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee and the BA Equity and Inclusion Partner, the Brewers Association Mentorship program is a 12-week virtual experience that works to increase diversity among those who work in, own, or aspire to work in or own craft breweries. Mentors provide structured mentorship and advocacy aimed at removing professional barriers to entry or advancement.
Participants in the program are able to select between three professional tracks to help focus mentorship based on each participant’s interests and level of professional experience. The aspiring professionals track is for individuals new to the craft brewing community or who have little or no work experience in the industry. The advancing professionals track is for individuals who currently work in the industry and want to advance, expand, or change their career trajectories. Further specializations within this track include production, guest experience, and brewery administration. The brewery start-up track is for individuals who aspire to start a brewery and have taken steps to do so, or breweries less than one year old.
Participants who complete the BA Mentorship Program receive support beyond the 12 weeks during which they are in active mentoring rotations. Past participants have maintained relationships with mentors long after their cohorts ended. Additionally, participants receive financial support to attend the Craft Brewers Conference, pursue an industry certification, attend an approved brewing education program, or build a reference library through Brewers Publications.
The Brewers Association runs two cohorts of the Mentorship Program annually. Applications to participate in the next cohort, which kicks off in September 2023, will be accepted from May 2023 through the end of July 2023. However, those interested in becoming mentors in the program don’t have to wait to apply. “We are in need of mentors in all specializations in the industry and we accept applications from potential mentors at any time,” says Koenig-Busey.
The Brewers Association envisions a craft brewing industry that provides unmatched opportunities for learning, professional development, employment, entrepreneurship, belonging, and empowerment to everyone regardless of identities, experiences, or perspectives.
To learn more about the Brewers Association Mentorship Program and to apply to be a participant or mentor, visit brewersassociation.org.
Join Us at the Craft Brewers Conference
Are you interested creating opportunities for personal and professional growth in the craft brewing community? Maybe you’re looking for an opportunity that could be your big break? Join members of the BA DEI staff and committee for our annual Opportunity Maker Meet-Up and Happy Hour at Bearded Iris Brewing.
We are committed to providing unmatched opportunities for learning, professional development, employment, entrepreneurship, belonging, and empowerment to everyone regardless of identities, experiences, or perspectives. All are welcome to join us to socialize, network, and learn about current opportunities for greater access and advancement in the brewing industry.