York College Hospitality Management grad lands career planning events in Pennsylvania’s biggest venues
Jennifer Trowbridge imagined herself with a rewarding career that pushed her limits and highlighted her talents. Not long after graduating from York College of Pennsylvania in 2016, the Hospitality Management major thinks she found the perfect fit thanks to a former classmate.
Jennifer reached out to Kaitlyn Fetter, a 2015 Hospitality Management graduate who was working as a catering sales executive with Special Events by Duffy’s, a branch of Jimmy Duffy Catering in Downingtown, about 30 miles west of Philadelphia.
Paul Duffy, owner at Jimmy Duffy Catering, had hoped to eventually hire the pair when they were in the first class he taught at York College.
“The two of them stood out so much from the rest of the pack,” he says. “I thought I’d be crazy to pass up the opportunity to hire them. Kaitlyn’s performance convinced others that York College students really were exceptional.”
Jennifer has quickly followed suit.
After having a chance to sample the job by working an event before committing to the position, she jumped in as catering sales executive at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where Duffy’s is one of two exclusive caterers. She is also working to restart the event business at Westover Golf Club, near King of Prussia.
Always on the move
“No day is like the other,” Jennifer says.
She could be found on venue tours with clients and the events team at PAFA or in meetings with clients or events and sales staff.
She answers clients’ questions, creates proposals, reviews menus and prepares logistics for events. She’s never in the same spot long – some days begin in Downingtown and finish in Philadelphia, or vice versa, or she might even work an event with Kaitlyn in Lancaster County.
Event days are a big rush for Jennifer.
“I try to prepare for it as much as I can in advance,” she says. “But it’s not uncommon for some things to not go as smoothly as planned. Sometimes, the start time creeps up on us while we still have something to put out on the floor. It always gets done, but for that moment, the adrenaline is high.”
The rush doesn’t end even when the last truck is loaded to be sent back to the warehouse, she says, as she always makes a mental review to note what can be done differently for the next event.
Rewards all around
How is she handling what Paul calls a serious responsibility? She’s standing out like he knew she would when she was in his class at York College.
“Am I happy with Jennifer’s work so far? Absolutely,” he says, noting that she balances elements of diplomacy, competition, and communication with ease.
Kaitlyn had also seen something in Jennifer while they were students.
“All of Jennifer’s projects and work were done to the fullest and then some,” Kaitlyn says. “I knew she’d succeed here because of that. She is always listening and looking to learn. She has a passion for customer service and hospitality, which is what our company is all about.”
In addition to joining a great company that works in some of Pennsylvania’s largest entertainment venues, Jennifer finds herself in a rewarding career she had only dreamed of before.
“One of the most exciting things about life is that you are able to learn something new every day, and with this company, I have been able to do that,” she says. “I am grateful for where I am and that I was given the opportunity to work with such wonderful people.”