Anna Carlson wanted to own her own restaurant since she was in seventh grade. At age 23, Carlson is well on her way to achieving that goal. In December 2015, she became the first to graduate from the school of Hospitality Business Management at WSU North Puget Sound in Everett. She praises her WSU professors for caring about her learning and development and for immersing her in “real experiences” with “real businesses.” One of her most rewarding experiences was in her Food, Beverage, and Labor course. In this class she was tasked with helping Bluewater Distillery develop a menu and schedules for its staff. Additionally, she would travel to Florence, Italy, and New York to take part in a study abroad program with Jamie Callison, WSU executive chef, and author of The Crimson Spoon.
Though Carlson envisions running her own restaurant, she was eager to learn every aspect of the restaurant industry. Starting as a host at Red Robin while in school, she was quickly promoted through several other positions. After graduation, she was invited to attend an eight-week management training program. Now, after completing the program, she is the assistant manager at the Red Robin in Factoria. Carlson credits her WSU education for her quick advancement. She says “Without WSU I wouldn’t have been able to negotiate as well as I did and move up to management as fast as I did.”