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Public Relations and Hospitality Management Alumnus Builds Marketing Business in NYC

Headshot of Sean Altberger

Sean Altberger 14 never intended to be an entrepreneur. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and its impact on the hospitality industry brought many changes for the alumnus—including the start of his own business, Fifth Borough Marketing LLC.

When Sean Altberger ’14 attended York College of Pennsylvania, he was known as the “Disney Guy.” With a double major in Public Relations and Hospitality Management, Altberger dreamed of working for The Walt Disney Co. for the rest of his life.

Originally from New York City, Altberger chose York College for its down-to-earth, small-town atmosphere. He loved that he was able to make connections with professors and faculty that might not have been afforded him at a large university. Multiple conversations with his York College career advisors guided Altberger toward attaining the tools he needed to secure an internship at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

“They challenged me to pursue my dream,” he says of his advisors.

In 2012, Altberger joined the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World for a season. He returned to Disney World in 2014 after graduating from York College to complete a professional internship in public relations.

After a year at Disney, Altberger decided he needed to be closer to home. He returned to New York City with a growing toolkit of hospitality, public relations, and marketing skills and experiences. His abilities led him to NYC & Company, the official tourism board of New York City’s five boroughs. Altberger worked as the company’s public relations coordinator, where he oversaw publicity, both domestic and international, on New York City’s tourism industry–including collaborating with the city’s hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions.

A Pandemic Idea Takes Shape

In 2017, Altberger shifted his focus to digital marketing and worked for Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts at their newest property in NYC, helping with their social media, website, email marketing, and creative collateral. Following that, he worked at The Langham, New York Fifth Avenue. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and it hit New York City hard. Altberger was furloughed in March of that year. While he was in lockdown, the seeds of a business idea began to grow in his mind. It was time to build something of his own.

Shortly thereafter, Fifth Borough Marketing LLC was born. The name came from Altberger’s home on Staten Island, NYC’s fifth borough and often referred to as the forgotten borough. “I didn't want small businesses to be forgotten. I wanted to be an affordable solution to struggling businesses’ marketing needs,” Altberger says. He reached out primarily to hospitality-focused companies such as restaurants and event planners. He drew on his knowledge of web building, social media management, and email marketing to offer an array of services to clients.

“The pandemic taught me to always have a backup plan that is your passion and that you can take with you, that is yours,” Altberger says. “You can take that with you for the rest of your life. You build it. You control it.”

While the pandemic brought sadness, he says, it also provided many opportunities to work with people that he otherwise would not have had. Altberger has connected with clients around the country, some of whom he’s never met in-person.

“I wasn’t born an entrepreneur,” he says. “It took a pandemic.”

Altberger is also balancing his business while working as a Brand Marketing Manager for a premier extended-stay hospitality company based outside Philadelphia. Through that job, he reaches back to York College to invite the Hospitality Management Department to tour the hotels each year.

“I’m always trying to give back to the College in any way I can,” he says.

Altberger encourages students to be ready for change. “Whatever you go to school for or whatever you’re dreaming about doing,” he says, “be prepared for the unexpected.”