JVS Foundation Helps Alum Creatively Design New Career Path
Chanelle Williams, Web and Graphic Design Program , Class of: 2008
If Webster's defines hospitality as "the friendly treatment of guests or strangers," the dictionary folks might want to include a photo of the Williams family of Sheffield in their next production run.
"My parents always made our guests feel special - making them comfortable in our home, cooking for them," said Chanelle Williams, who graduated from the Lorain County JVS Web and Graphic Design Program in 2008.
While dabbling in web design, Williams found her passions flowed more toward hospitality and decided to change careers.
"I created a website for a family friend - a poet who wanted to promote her poetry online," Williams said. "Through that experience I realized that web design wasn't for me."
With that decided, Williams thought long and hard about what makes her happy and realized that she enjoyed making her friends feel at home whenever they visited.
"I like going above and beyond to make people feel welcome, and I've always wanted to own my own hotel," she said.
This self-realization led Williams to Indiana University in Pennsylvania, where she earned her Bachelor's in Hospitality Management in 2013.
College was in Williams' plans - thanks to her parents - who gave Chanelle and her brothers, Charles and Chaston, limited choices.
"My parents did not go to college, but they always encouraged us to get the best education possible," Williams said. "So we had two options: go to college or enlist in the military."
Williams followed her older brother, Charles (JVS Business and Accounting, Class of 2007); and passed the baton to younger sibling Chaston (JVS Masonry, Class of 2011).
"The JVS was a great step in the right direction," Williams said. "My teachers and counselors were always available. They encouraged me. They believed in me. I got involved in everything I could."
Which included Business Professionals of America, where she participated in Regional and National competitions; learned leadership and interviewing skills; and earned several college scholarships.
"College was difficult, but I recalled all the support I had at the JVS, how they pushed me," Williams said. "They gave me the confidence I needed to earn my bachelor's degree."
Williams returned to Cleveland in 2013 after her internship at Hershey Hotel in Hershey, Pa., led to employment with Marriott International.
Williams worked in the AMP 150 Restaurant at the Cleveland Airport Marriott, where she honed her customer service skills; then was promoted to operations supervisor at the hotel's front desk.
"My boss liked my work ethic and believed that I'd be an asset," said Williams.
What sold Williams on Marriott?
"Job opportunities," she said.
Williams next stop is the Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Tx. as assistant manager of operations food and beverage in the banquets department.
"Definitely more responsibility, more paperwork," she said. "But I'm up for it."
What sold Marriott on Williams?
"Those great interviewing skills I learned at the JVS," she said. "Things like having good posture, being professional; sincere answers to their questions - and most important - asking them good questions."
One of Williams' questions pertained to Houston Marriott's policy on survey scores, in particular, GSS scores, which reveal how customers rate Marriott's service.
"I was curious about how their system worked compared to Cleveland's," Williams said. "I also asked them what they were looking for in a manager."
Marriot executives also wanted Williams to share something about herself that they didn't already know.
"I told them that I believe in teamwork, integrity, honesty and open communication - working together as a team - being on the same page," she said.
As for Williams' dream of owning her own hotel?
"I see a future in entrepreneurship," Williams said. "I'm doing my homework, researching and learning what other successful entrepreneurs did. I know I'll have to offer something different to attract customers and keep them happy."