September 27, 2017
Combining her love of numbers and the State of West Virginia, Carrie Digman has cultivated her own career path, solving a problem in the state’s hospitality and tourism industry along the way.
A native of Charleston, West Virginia, the senior accounting and hospitality and tourism management double-major has certainly taken advantage of her time at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. She is president of the WVU Hospitality Club and was a member of the WVU Hospitality and Tourism team that placed third out of 25 teams in the international 2016 STR Student Market Study Competition.
She has also immersed herself in the hospitality industry, serving as a guest services intern at Olgebay Resort & Conference Center in Wheeling, West Virginia, and a revenue management intern and guest services agent at the Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place. Most recently, she was an intern for the West Virginia Division of Tourism, which led to her current role working on revenue management projects for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
While that is an impressive resume, it is just the start of her journey. Read the Q&A below to learn more about how Digman is striving to leave her mark on West Virginia.
- You have experienced many of the different areas of the hospitality and tourism industry. What is your favorite part?
- Can you describe your role as an intern for the West Virginia Division of Tourism?
- You’ve continued on with a similar role with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and you have a great love for the state. So, why all this work for West Virginia? Why is the state so important to you?
- You were very active during your first three years at WVU. Now that you are a senior, what are some goals or plans you have for this year?
- You clearly have a great work ethic and love for the state. Where do you think that comes from? Who is someone that has made a big impact on your life?
I came in thinking that I was going to do hotel operations. About a year and a half in, I realized this may not be the setting for me. So, I explored more. I went on to Olgebay and I thought I loved the feeling of a natural outside environment and the resort setting. But again thought, I don’t know. Then, I did my internship in revenue management at the Waterfront, and that, I loved. I loved the numbers. It was very aggressive, but then again, I thought this isn’t really what I want to do. I loved it and it was a great experience, but I think I truly found my spot this past summer when I fell in love with working for the state. I feel that I can make a difference in this state and that I really want to stay here to do that.
I think getting just a piece of that this summer really solidified my decision to stay and see. The tourism aspect and what all of the natural beauty West Virginia has to offer and that my skill set would be beneficial in promoting that and analyzing that, I finally felt like that was something that I would do for the rest of my life.
After the Division of Tourism purchased a software package, they needed me to figure out how to get online state park reservations and do it in an effective way where people would actually use it. It was going to create revenue and get all of the state park financial statements in the right place.
I went in thinking I was going to work with people who knew a lot about lodging and hotels and the aggressive purchasing environment. I was the only one who knew anything about it. I had this set of software that I have to fit state parks into it. So, my summer consisted of going to different parks and doing some analysis. Pretty much an audit of what they had. After all of the technical backend build out, I finally got to see it come to life and it was a rewarding thing. A month in, I can say that the revenue is through the roof and we are doing great in comparison to last year. Things that weren’t available before are now, and the growth I got to see over the summer is incredible.
First and foremost, the state is home to me. I grew up here. I know some people on the outside don’t see it, but I see potential in this state, and I think that [tourism] has huge growth opportunity. With all that West Virginia has done for me, and the education I’ve received here, I would feel guilty going elsewhere, focusing my efforts elsewhere. I just love the state and I love the people.
I am working on research with Dr. Ajay Aluri, figuring out how long it takes for an economy to recover from civil unrest, which we expect to finish up within the next month. And I am on the STR Market Study Competition team again, so we are currently working on that. I will also be attending the Hospitality Technology Next Generation Conference in Washington, D.C., with [hospitality and tourism professors] Frank DeMarco and Dr. Aluri, where we will learn about the role technology is going to play in the future of hospitality and tourism. But I’d say my big goal is to figure out grad school.
Going into this, my parents were unsure about the hospitality and tourism program. But, I later found out that my dad, who works in IT at a law firm, was a rafting guide around the Fayetteville area prior to going to college. He said that every day he sees me excel, he regrets not going into the hospitality industry. He always loves to hear my stories. He loves to keep up with everything that is going on with the program and in my life. I would say that my dad really has, not from an industry standpoint but from a personal standpoint, really pushed me to do better. And it’s almost that he is proud because I have had all of these opportunities and I get to grow and really stand out in my career. I can sense that he is really proud that I did something that he totally wishes he could do. I’m trying to get him to go back for a second career. I think he should do it.