Beyond the Books at AU: Student Combines Communication and Business With Internship at Great Plains Zoo

Augustana student Mariya Mamman ’25 is a communication studies/business and economics double major from Jos, Plateau, Nigeria. She is interning this summer at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls. Mamman, who hopes to one day run an international advertising agency, is gaining valuable, practical experience as the zoo’s social media & events intern.

Q: What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

A: This past year, I was a student ambassador for the Business Club and social media manager for the Linguistics Club. Starting in the fall, I will be an ACE ambassador, the vice president of marketing for the Business Club, public relations manager for the Augustana International Club, vice president of the Linguistics Club, event planner for the African Student Association and a Viking Advisor.

Q: What are your career goals/aspirations?

A: One day I hope to own and run my own international ad agency. I want to travel as much of the world as I possibly can, either through my business or personally. I also plan to invest in a trauma center for women who have experienced sexual harassment in hopes that we can heal one woman at a time in an effort to better the world that we live in.

Q: Where or how did you hear about Augustana?

A: I never thought of living in a place called South Dakota. Augustana had been persistent with their emails in the time that I was looking for a college so I decided to check out the university. After a few conversations with my amazing International Programs Office (IPO) advisor, Heather Reed, and a very generous scholarship, I found myself in Sioux Falls.

Q: What is/are the reason(s) you chose to come to Augustana?

A: One thing Augie did that was different from other colleges I applied to was showing genuine interest in my status as an international student. My IPO advisor, Heather Reed, made sure I was aware of all the benefits of being at Augie. The size of the classes was a big selling point for me. I knew I would be paid attention to, and as a student that was simply looking for a college that would help her exceed, that was all that I needed.

Q: What will your job duties include?

A: I am working as a social media & events intern. From going on grounds at the zoo to taking pictures and videos of animals for social media, to learning how to make everything look as inviting as possible, I am thinking about how well this serves the average person. From learning how to tailor each piece of information to different social media platforms and editing cute little TikToks to drawing chalk on sidewalks and providing information to bypassers, every little part works toward a single goal. The events part of my internship is not neglected either. With interesting and fun events happening every so often, I get a glimpse of what being in an active business details, which is more than just having a desk job.

Q: How did you get the internship? Did anyone help you? What did that journey look like?

A: As part of my internship search, I simply applied to everything that I could get my hands on within my major. From the offers I got back, the zoo was the best one. I never thought I would be working at a zoo, but it is the job that I never knew I needed.

Q: What do you like most about your internship?

A: Working at a zoo means you never run out of content, but the interesting part is how you use that content. With social media workshops and planning days, your mind is stretched to accommodate new ideas. Gathering this content of the animals in their most natural form and through their different personalities on a daily basis often makes most of my day worth it.

Q: What do you hope to learn/gain from the internship?

A: I hope to gain the critical thinking and organizational skills that I will need for future jobs and endeavors. From learning how to schedule social media posts to being active and present during events, I am hoping to learn how to effectively expand my skills and knowledge across all platforms. I am hoping to learn how much more it takes than just working at a desk to be part of an efficient business. I hope that this internship shapes how I approach daily problems with critical thinking skills.

Q: Why is experiential learning so important to you in your future endeavors?

A: Being an internal means being in a position of learning. It sets the precedent for every other job that I will want in the future. Experiential learning ties down all the things you learn in your major with hands-on experience. You can finally begin to use everything you have learned thus far in more than just a hypothetical situation.

Q: How important is building relationships/connections?

A: Building relationships has always been very important to me. Whether it is in a business or professional setting or casual setting, all relationships I strive to build are for the long term. Building relationships and connections with people shows that you have the skills needed to morph into any situation you are placed in.

Learn about the 2,000+ jobs and internships posted annually by the Augustana University Student Success Center at Augie Opportunities.

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