Looking Back: The Semester of the Flying Dog

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Back in May, when I began as an intern at Flying Dog Brewery, I was excited, nervous and unsure of what I should really expect.  They certainly weren’t your average corporate hamster wheel.  In the month or so before I began working there over the summer, I did as much research about the company as I could.  However, nothing I read on the Internet could prepare me for the experience that continues to this day.

I must admit, starting an internship as a Creative Design Intern with only one graphics class under my belt made me a little anxious about being able to live up to expectations.  On my first day, I could barely speak in coherent sentences I was so nervous and excited.  I was re-introduced to my interviewer and new boss, Adam McGinnis, who gave me a tour of the brewery and basically explained to me the basics of the whole operation.

My head was spinning, my palms were sweating. Is this really happening? Did I really get this internship? No sooner did those thoughts cross my mind did I get tasked with my first and biggest graphics project to date: to create a style guide for all of the brewery’s beers and assets, to be given to distributors and affiliates.

IMG_4129Over the next couple of months, I learned more about design principles and the ins and outs of the Adobe Creative Suite than I could ever hope to learn in the classroom. Granted, I stumbled through some things, made some mistakes and had to ask for help, but I realized that there’s no shame in that at all. If you are afraid to ask questions, you will never learn.

From there, I began working on designing signs for events and the gift shop, as well as working at the brewery events themselves.  One pivotal point in my internship came in mid-September, when after four long months of sipping on water at events, I turned 21.  Needless to say, I was a very well educated, newly minted consumer of craft beer.
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I took the time to sample our craft and really gain a more substantial appreciation for the product I had been designing for during the months leading up to my birthday.

Throughout the months following, I watched the brewer’s do rubbings of fresh batches of mini bales of hops, craft casks of unique, one-of-a-kind brews and host gatherings of fellow craft brewers.

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On the other side of the brewery’s operations, I got to bear witness to a local business explode with growth over the 7 months that I’ve been working there.  Each month, an all-employee meeting is held.  At this meeting, each member of the management team, as well as our sales and marketing teams, update everyone on our progress, new developments, upcoming events and leave opportunity for anyone to ask questions or suggest ideas.

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In only seven of these meetings, I have watched the brewery I have come to call home grow exponentially.   I have also been told of their milestones as a local small business in the mere 5 years they’ve been headquartered in Frederick, MD.  Their dedication to supporting other local businesses and the relentless expression of art in all forms, at any cost, makes me so grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to become a member of the Flying Dog family.

Another aspect of our business that I was able to participate in were our sales and marketing meetings, oh-so-cleverly called “Sarketing Meetings”.  At these meetings, we discuss everything from our social media campaigns and new merchandise lines to our latest disturbance of the peace and headlines we have made.  Without going into too much boring detail, I have watched every single person in these meetings unapologetically represent the principles upon which our artistic livelihood as a craft brewery depends.

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Whether or not this means paying out the nose for the city of Frederick to remove our promotional street art, or fighting a legal battle over the course of multiple years that would allow us to represent ourselves without censorship, saying that I am proud to count myself among them is an understatement.  While my technical role at the company is that of a Creative Design intern, I have learned one of the most important things about being a successful and valued team member: learn about and be a part of as many things outside of your role as possible. I have come to realize that collaboration is one of the most impactful methods of work, especially at the brewery.

In the spirit of collaboration, not long after my birthday, I was given my next largest task to date: to design and paint a giant, six-foot pink ribbon to be featured in the Pink Ribbon Path project in Downtown Frederick.  This project was a collaboration with the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund.

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The ribbons were set to be displayed for the entire month of October in various locations in the Downtown Frederick area, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.  At the end of the month, a gala was held as a fundraiser where each of the pink ribbons designed by various local businesses and artists were auctioned off, with the proceeds to benefit breast cancer research.

From concept to execution, the project took me about a month, incurring many splattered paint stains and office carpet scrubbing. However, I can proudly say that this project was one that I felt I could stand behind from both an artistic and professional standpoint. Although I was never notified as to whether or not my piece was sold at auction, I am incredibly happy to have been a part of that event and to have gained such valuable exposure as a creative professional in the local community.

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I have been lucky enough to assist with photo shoots for our online merchandise store (I even modeled once!), set up, work and break down events, as well become acquainted with our gift shop retail processes. I have come to the realization that in order to be a significant asset to a company that you want to or currently work for, it is essential to be very skilled at something you’re passionate about, but to also retain an equal passion to learning and broadening your skill set as well as honing the ones you already have.

As if all of these wonderful experiences weren’t enough, about a month ago, at our most recent employee meeting, Jodi Jones and Kenneth MacFawn asked me to meet with them in the conference room afterwards. When I did, they commended me on my energy and dedication, and proceeded to offer me a secondary position in addition to my current role, as a tour guide! I begin training after winter break, and will soon be tip certified to serve alcohol.

I could continue to write volumes about my experiences at Flying Dog, but I will leave you with this:

Love what you do, and the possibilities are endless.

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