Matthew Ponichtera '07: From Production Assistant to Beer Brewer

After graduating from IC as a cinema and photography major, Matthew Ponichtera arrived in Los Angeles with one goal in mind: to become an assistant director.

He worked his way up from production assistant on the haircutting reality show Sheer Genius to second assistant director of the film Life Happens. But after three years of freelance gigs and 12- to 18-hour workdays, Ponichtera felt that he wasn’t getting anywhere. 

During a hiatus between jobs, Ponichtera started brewing batches of beer in his apartment and discovered a new passion in the process. “I just fell in love with the world of beer,” he says.

At a beer festival, he met someone starting a brewery who hired him as his first employee. Two years later, while vacationing in Maui, Ponichtera promised his fiancée, Leah Minium ’07, that if the Maui Brewing Company ever had a job opening, he would apply.

Within a few months the brewery had posted a job, and Ponichtera was hired. Now he spends his days brewing coconut-flavored beer while his fiancée telecommutes for a public relations company in New York.

On the weekends, they enjoy paddle boarding and hiking around the island. “It’s like the same things you get to do in the summertime in Ithaca—only it’s like that all year long,” he says.


Read about other alumni who have made interesting career changes:

- Cheryl Moore Brinkley '75: From Actor To Elocution Coach

- Marsha Eger ’70: From Speech Therapist to Chanting and Meditation Teacher

- Brad White '81: From Corporate Development to Sea Burials

- Sarah Rolleston '07: From Musical Theatre to Dessert Tours

- How To Reinvent Yourself: Alumni Show You How It's Done