The Bonding Power of Happy Hour: Jake Neilson’s Job Search Success Story

Everyone’s job search story is different, but each individual story can inspire and empower others who are on their own unique path. We love to hear how our readers have found rewarding careers in Portland, and we want to share these stories with you to inspire you in your job search and to help us all better understand the local job market! In this job search success story, Jake Neilson, Brand Manager at Widmer Brothers Brewing and Square Mile Cider, shares how exuding kindness and prioritizing networking made a difference in his job search.

What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?

I make and talk about beer and cider for a living. Best job I could have ever hoped for. I am proud to work for Widmer Brothers Brewing here in Portland, OR. 

How long did it take you to find this job?

While I have been working for this company for six years now, it took me close to four years of networking, emails, LinkedIn and follow-ups, and a couple of pints among friends to finally get the chance to work here. 

How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?

I actually found myself at a networking happy hour at Prichard Communications as a young professional in Portland while working at a small agency in town. 

I met a person who would soon become a good friend of mine at this happy hour, and we connected over the beers that were being served (Widmer Brothers). The connection was made over a good pint of beer, some fun shared stories at the happy hour, and an exchange of contact info. 

The tactic was staying in touch. The following day I connected with this person via email, and we stayed in touch for over four years – emailing and meeting for lunch every six months or so. 

When there finally was an open role, my contact introduced me to who would soon be my future superior, and I was able to chat and then apply for the role officially. 

What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?

Persistence and patience paid off. It got frustrating at times, but my goal was to work at Widmer Brothers. In the meantime, I kept advancing in my career and learning about the brewing industry so I would become the best candidate when I finally had the chance to apply. 

What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?

Be kind to everyone you meet, no matter who they are, because you never know who might have the knowledge, experiences, or connections to help you go where you want to. 

Respect goes a long way in any industry. Treating every person you work with, with the same respect as you give your CEO gives you a huge advantage in developing strong work relationships and trust with everyone on your team and organization. This is the same for life as well. 

Also, sometimes a beer helps in the creative process. As long as it’s after 5 p.m. 😉

Why do you love your job?

Not only does working for a craft brewery sound as fun as it seems, one of the best parts of my job is that almost everyone is happy to meet you. It’s been an honor to share beers with some of the coolest, smartest, and most inspiring people in the Pacific Northwest, and I love that I can bring a smile to everyone I meet with an extra six-pack or fun story as to how we created our latest brew.