Kegan Bakken

Kegan Bakken
Major/Job Title:
Waterloo Taproom General Manager - Singlespeed Brewing Co., Waterloo, IA

Kegan Bakken

BA in Anthropology, UNI 2021

Why did you choose to attend UNI? 
Originally it was because I was a music major and got a good scholarship to play percussion.  But also it was my hometown college and my mother’s alma mater. 

I ended up taking a year off because it wasn’t quite what I had imagined.  When I returned I didn’t have a major so I was just taking some gen ed classes and was very captivated by the Intro to Sociology course.  I then decided on a Sociology major and was then exposed to some of the Anthro courses and I ended up switching to Anthro after taking a few of the classes and immersing myself into a little more of the literature.

What were some of your favorite classes? 

  • Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft 
  • Human Biological Variation
  • Even though it’s not an Anthro course I took a Quantitative Analysis class because the professor gave me special permission to take a graduate level course as an undergrad and that was pretty neat if you’re a numbers geek like me.

What do you do in your current position? 
A little bit of everything.  Currently I manage a staff of about 50 running a taproom restaurant at a local brewery.  I think what I like most about this job is you get the immediate satisfaction of a job well done.  If we’re sending out good food and brewing tasty beer, you get smiles on the faces of your customers.  And if I’m doing my job correctly, the staff is eager and happy to come to work every day. 

How did your major help prepare you for your current role?
I’ll be honest, I got this job more because I’ve worked at restaurants since I was in high school and less because of my Anthro degree.  But if I know anything to be true it’s that restaurants are a constantly changing environment where you interact with new people every single day.  What Anthro has prepared me for is to know in the back of my mind that each of these people has a story to them.  They have their cultural upbringing, life experiences, even down to their genetics that I have to take into account when interacting with them.  As far as skills I’m still using, I’d say having a background in Anthro has given me patience and perspective.  Patience to know and respect people’s stories when dealing with unruly customers, underperforming staff members, plans changing at a moment's notice(maybe a pandemic?), or anything that might get thrown my way.  And perspective to be able to interact amicably with people from all types of backgrounds, ethnicities, races, religious views, sexual orientations, or what have you. 

What is a memorable part of your studies or participation within your major?
I really enjoyed my interactions with pretty much all of my professors.  Dr. Woodrick and Dr. O’Brien were two of my favorites.  And although I don’t think he’s there any longer, Dr. Xavier Escandell was another one.  I think what I enjoyed most about the Anthro major was just the style of the classes.  A lot of them were much smaller in size, more intimate.  You’d just read the recommended chapters and then we’d discuss them to make sure everyone got the ideas, concepts, or material that was in the readings.  It was simple and straightforward.  And I loved having the chance to discuss things rather than just sitting back and listening to a professor lecture for an hour without anyone else saying a word.  I think that was the best part; being able to have my own thoughts and discuss them with others so we all could benefit from it.

What advice would you give to students currently interested in the same major and/or going into your career field?
Don’t go to college just to get a job.  I know that flies in the face of what a lot of people might believe.  But if my college experience taught me anything it was how to THINK, not how to get a job.  And that thinking has taken me a long way.  Even if I didn’t just continue a career in restaurants I know other employers would want me to work there because I’m quick on my feet, can handle stressful situations, and can make conversations with just about anyone.  So I’d suggest going to college to learn how to think first, and a job will find you.  That’s what happened to me.

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?
While I personally don’t have any awards… Singlespeed’s gotten a few:

  • Winner : Experience Waterloo’s Best New Restaurant 2017
  • Bronze Medal Winner : 2018 World Beer Cup - Leipzig Style Gose 
  • Gold Medal Winner : 2020 Great American Beer Festival - Session Beer

IF anyone has anything to ask me you’re more than welcome to stop by the Waterloo TapRoom and we can talk over a nice hazy IPA.