The 40 year-old intern
A warts and all blog post on a 3 month internship at BeerBods
Guest | 07 May 2015
So, how does one face up to one of the biggest birthday milestones there is whilst dealing with being made redundant from your job of 15 years with a small child and a brand new house you could barely afford in the first place?
You go to work for a local online beer retail start-up. As an intern.
Sitcom parallels aside*, it made perfect sense for me to work here. BeerBods’ request for an intern came courtesy of a retweet by a local craft beer shop I’d just started following (hat-tip to Saucy Pears in Worcester). I had time. I had a brief spell where I was OK for money. I loved beer. I wanted to try a different field of work to see if I could cope. Beer. So I got in touch with Matt.
After an email exchange (during which, he subsequently told me, Matt had already made up his mind to employ me) I popped in to BeerBods HQ for a ‘chat’. “If this was an interview we’d be in the pub” clarified Gordon. We talked projects, plans, what they’d like me to do i.e. a bit more than standard intern tasks like making tea and looking pretty. Organise events, help develop new products, put projects on a professional footing, analyse and record their procedures, that sort of thing.
I got the feeling my learning curve was going to be steep. Like, rocket-trajectory steep. Especially about beer. But I couldn’t wait to start.
Generally, BeerBods works like this: orders come from the website, subscription payment confirmations come via email, the information is put into a database, we use the info to make labels, boxes are made up and the labels stuck to them. We place them gently into big trucks who whisk them off to thirsty punters. But that’s just the mechanics, not how it works.
Here’s a better snapshot - a tiny little northern pub who have a brewery in an unused part of their cellar contact us to ask how they’d get their beers into our boxes. Just send us some - we’ll pay for samples. Oh no that’s fine, they’re on the way. It’s a conversation, informal, friendly. We end up getting nice samples of bottles and a pre-production brew that comes in plastic orange juice bottles. Gordon took one up Snowdon that weekend. One of the normally bottled ones we like a great deal. We’ll say something like “OK, let’s have over 2,000 bottles”, and they say “EHH??”. Unlike most retailers, we like to take a lot in one, possibly two goes, and the smaller producers we tend to deal with can have kittens when we ask for masses of the stuff. Negotiation over prices, numbers, when we need it etc only ever takes place after we decide ‘yep, this beer’s good enough for our guys’.
Now I know a lot of you think we sit around the office and drink beer all day. There is an element of truth to that. But it’s not every day, and it’s never a lot. Better beer, not more beer.
My personal circumstances made it impossible to accept Matt and Gordon’s last-ditch attempt to take me on full time (I need lots of pennies to keep myself in the manner to which I’ve become accustomed). Don’t get it twisted though - this has been my favourite job of my career to date. It’s important work they’re doing. It’s only beer, but beer’s a fundamental part of Britishness and for us it matters that people drink the good stuff. That’s why BeerBods is here, why people love us, why we’re growing and why we won’t stop until you pour that shit away and get a decent beer in you.
* Friends, season 9. Chandler leaves his job and becomes an intern in a field he always wanted to work in. A running gag to that point had been Chandler did a job that no-one understood, didn’t love, but he made decent money so he kept doing it. Throw in the weight fluctuations and predilection for one-liners this is pretty much me. He had a better scriptwriter mind.