MAINE, USA — Maine is home to a thriving craft beer community, and now one brewery is working to prepare the next generation of beer producers in the Pine Tree State.
"They're going to put brewers boots on, and they're going to go down and make beer," Dan Kleban, cofounder of the Maine Beer Company, said.
The University of Southern Maine plans to launch the Brewing Up Opportunity Internship and Scholarship Fund after receiving a $100,000 gift from the Maine Beer Company.
Kleban is a 2004 graduate of USM. He approached the university with the idea for the program in the hopes of diversifying Maine's beer industry.
"They'll actually get to put boots on or come work in our office and see what it's like on a practical level to work in our industry and see how great it is. Hopefully, they graduate, enter our industry, and hopefully, our industry starts to reflect the community at large," Kleban said.
The internship will be open to USM students in its pilot year, and it's slated to begin in the summer. The internship will be paid, and students who complete the internship can receive a $5,000 scholarship.
Kleban said the goal is to eliminate financial barriers for students while promoting diversity and inclusion.
"It really is directed at those that come from underserved communities or those who might not otherwise know about our industry or have access to it," Kleban said.
"Maine Beer Company has this idea of providing something more holistic than just an internship. They've attached the scholarship piece to it, which eliminates a ton of barriers that students would normally face," Andy Osheroff, the director of USM's Career & Employment Hub, said.
As part of the internship, those selected won't solely work in beer production. Maine Beer Company and USM hope to open up opportunities to those who might not have considered a career in beer or those in programs like tourism, hospitality, food studies, marketing, engineering, finance, and design.
"Folks probably have an idea what it's like to work in a brewery. Maybe it's with the beer specifically. But what I think people don't necessarily realize is that there's all of this other opportunity," Osheroff said.