Shakayla Zoss had never been fly fishing until recently, but that didn’t stop her from becoming involved with Arkansas Fly Fishers (AFF).
As a communications intern, Zoss, a senior mass communication major at the University of Arkansas for Little Rock, has spent the past year learning not only about the ins and outs of one of Arkansas’ favorite pastimes, but also gaining valuable professional experience.
Zoss, of Fouke, Arkansas, is AFF’s third communications intern, a position that also includes a scholarship she is using to further fund her education at UA Little Rock. Zoss had been given the responsibility of helping the organization communicate more effectively and reach more people in the community.
“I’ve been working with AFF’s Vice President Tillman Pittman to really create building blocks for future communication efforts,” Zoss said. “It’s been a learning experience both for me and for the people who were already there.”
Over the course of her internship, Zoss has found herself playing a wide variety of roles, including creating a statewide fly fishing guidebook.
“I’ve been going to their board meetings and doing research on my own time to learn about and advance AFF’s mission,” Zoss said. “I also reach out to guest speakers and work with their partner organizations such as the Mayfly project, which helps foster children.”
In addition to the important community work, Zoss has gained firsthand experience in professional communications work and learned several skills that she hopes to transfer into a career after graduation.
“I’ve learned to ask tons of questions and always give 100 percent,” she said. “When you come in to a position without a lot of background knowledge like I did, it’s something you have to do. You should never be afraid to ask questions. It’s how we learn.”
Overall, Zoss hopes that the foundations she builds in her position will be able to have a positive impact for future interns.
“They really made me feel welcome, and they’re all such genuinely nice people,” said Zoss. “They’re always there to help me, and I learn something new every time.”
Zoss will be continuing her internship at AFF during the fall 2019 semester and hopes to stay involved after her graduation in December.