YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – When Breanna Crone was accepted to the Disney College program in Florida, she thought of it as the realization of a dream.
But then she learned of a local opportunity – a full-time position as catering sales manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Youngstown, where she was interning while a student at Youngstown State University.
The Austintown Fitch graduate decided the better opportunity was here.
The Disney College program provides a paid internship for working and studying at one of the two theme parks for a semester. Selection is competitive with only 12,000 chosen each year from more than 50,000 applicants.
When Crone started her internship at the DoubleTree in January, she intended to leave in August for Disney College, where she could have gained hospitality industry experience in restaurants and hotels.
DoubleTree sales manager Kimberly Patrone said the hotel is a good fit for Crone.
“We always like to take those hospitality students who show interest in the hotel business side,” Patrone said. “There’s lots of little hotels in the area but there’s not too many full-service ones.”
The DoubleTree partners with YSU and Kent State University’s hospitality programs for internships.
Through the DoubleTree internship, Crone got the chance to experience different aspects of the industry. She says she enjoys the catering side more than housekeeping and front desk.
When YSU graduation came in May, Crone was still at the DoubleTree internship in a role in the sales department.
She asked if she could apply for a full-time opening and Patrone said management decided to give her a chance.
“She had a certain date she had to let Disney know,” Patrone said. “She is now our new catering manager. She’s doing wonderful. … It was just a great thing that someone very young, who gets to go to Florida, gives up Disney to stay here in Youngstown.”
With family and friends in the Mahoning Valley, Crone says it was the right decision for her.
“I figured it would just be a better opportunity here,” Crone says. “I would get more experience here. Especially, I wanted to get into the event side of everything anyway. So when I saw the opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up.”
Now she’s overseeing catered events in the 12th floor ballroom. Bringing to fruition the weddings and other events that were booked before she started her new job, Crone collaborates with brides and vendors and oversees all the details. She is learning the whole sales process.
“I can see myself growing more with this position than I would if I was doing something at Disney and just having to go there for a few months and then come back,” she said.
If Crone had taken the opportunity with the Disney College program, she would have started there in August instead of booking her first wedding.
“Bre’s been a great asset to the management team,” Patron said. “Moving up from an intern/hourly worker to a management position, she’s really stepped up. She’s earned the respect of a lot of the employees here in the hotel, listening to her taking charge.”
Pictured at top: Breanna Crone is the new catering sales manager at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Youngstown.