Taylor Leavitt, a senior economics major from Tooele, Utah, learned from experience the importance of being exposed to the kind of work one plans on doing in their career before committing to such a path. Her summer spent in Zion National Park as a financial management intern provided the perfect opportunity to see what her future may look like.
Leavitt worked with Sheena Cram who is in charge of inventory, property, lost and found, and all purchasing done at Zion National Park. In addition to these responsibilities, Leavitt got to play an active role in a concessions research project. Concessions refers to the contracts Zion has with a number of private companies who are able to provide services not provided by the park itself. The purpose of the project was to determine how Zion’s lodge compared to prices of privately owned hotels in the area. This type of research was much like what Leavitt was hoping to do in the future.
“My role in the research project was to put the data gathered into spreadsheets and to create a presentation based on that data so that the park could ensure that guests were receiving a fair price for their stay at Zion Lodge in comparison to other privately owned businesses,” said Leavitt.
She then presented her findings to the park’s superintendent so necessary changes could be made. This gave Leavitt a taste of her future in operations research.
Her journey to this internship started when she decided she no longer wanted to go into pharmaceuticals. In search of a career related to business, Leavitt took a variety of classes and eventually ended up in Dr. Joshua Price’s quantitative methods course. It was in that class that Leavitt realized she had a knack for and an interest in spreadsheet modeling, and could see herself working in operations research.
Professor Kim Craft played an integral role in helping Leavitt make sure she was on the right path.
“Professor Craft is the one who really sat down with me to talk about graduate school and helped me realize I needed a math minor to get into the program I wanted,” said Leavitt. “He knew firsthand what would help make me competitive in the field.”
Now that Leavitt is on the right academic track to fulfill her dreams, this internship gained through the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative has given her that extra edge over her peers and exposed her to the kind of work she’ll be doing in operations research.
“Being able to put on my resume that I worked for a national park and being able to explain the skills I learned and experience I gained will definitely set me apart from other applicants in my program,” said Leavitt.