Alumni from beer and cider industry share career tips

Presentation by successful young graduates draws big crowd to learn more about popular, expanding Vermont employment niche

March 2, 2022
By Faith Morgan '23

Alumni panelists from the beer and cider industry, from left to right: Amy Cronin, Tim Costello, Jeff Baker and Nick Kyratzis. (photos by Ingrid Peterson)

Nearly 100 students and business faculty gathered in the Roy Room late Monday afternoon to hear the perspectives of four Saint Michael’s alumni who work in the craft beer and cider industry.

Organizers of this event were Paul Olsen, chair of the Business Administration and Accounting Department and Ingrid Peterson, director of the Career Education Center. The event had a great turnout, with nearly every chair filled in the large room. Each alumnus offered students career development advice while sharing personal stories of finding work after college.

The 5 p.m. presentation also was an “UpLIFT” event. This program through the Student Life Office “enhances and diversifies the student experience through a myriad of opportunities including workshops, presentations, leadership opportunities and interactions with students, faculty, staff, alumni and the greater community. Participants develop self-awareness, understanding and cultural competency while learning to live honestly, respectfully and inclusively…”

Amy Cronin ‘06, festival and marketing manager at Vermont Brewers Association, advised students to cultivate a network and utilize connections often. When she was applying for her current position, she found a fellow Saint Michael’s alumnus from the association and reached out to him to let him know she was applying. By utilizing that connection, Cronin said, she was able to make sure her application would get a look.

Tim Costello ‘17, brand manager at Citizen Cider, told students about his time working behind the scenes at the cidery, fermenting and packaging cider before storing it. Costello told students to learn about the intermediary process of goods production. While it was not something he had wanted to do again, it did enhance his quality of work and taught him more about the product, which helped him in the marketing and sales aspect of his job, said Costello.

Jeff Baker ‘06 worked at Farrell Distributing as an education and training manager as well as a strategic account specialist for six years. In 2019, he wrote a book, Burlington Brewing: A History of Craft Beer in the Queen City, with co-author Adam Krakowski (publisher The History Press, Charleston, S.C.).


Monday’s panel had strong student turnout in the Roy Room.

Baker told students that his first experience with the beverage industry was at a fine wine shop in Boston or “Wine Gallery” after college. Although Baker had studied philosophy and English at Saint Michael’s, he decided to take a position as a wine educator at the winery. However, Baker admitted that he had no experience in wine advising and only a passion for wine sales, so he bargained with his employer, asking them if they would pay for him to take a class on the sales and marketing of wine and they agreed. Baker advised students to always be learning and looking out for opportunities, even throughout a career. “Your education doesn’t stop the second your job starts,” said Baker.

Nick Kyratzis ‘14, sales associate at Vermont Information Processing (VIP), told students about his time at Saint Michael’s as a biology major with concentrations in environmental science and chemistry. Kyratzis said that he never thought he would end up in a job in sales. During his time at Saint Michael’s, he participated in a competition where students needed to create a new product and pitch it to members of the Business Department. Kyratzis and his partners pitched a product that would distill the water from maple syrup to make a vodka product. This experience was a pivotal moment for Kyratzis that made him realize his interest in the beverage sales industry. Kyratzis advised students to always be open to new opportunities and career paths, even if those opportunities seem at first to not to relate to a pre-conceived initial plan.

“There is something out there for every student — it just may not be what they expected,” he said.


Another view of Monday’s panel from the audience.

Follow us on social.