More than halfway through his undergraduate years at UNLV, Mike Vardakis knew he had an aptitude for writing but no clue about how he might use it to earn a living. “Going into school, I just didn’t have any specific interests,” he said. “People were going to school saying they wanted to be a doctor or scientist, but everything seemed really broad for me.”
Vardakis drifted aimlessly through the maze of college. He declared a pre-business major, then dropped it. He mulled over other degree programs. Finally, a friend said he enjoyed his coursework as a journalism and media studies major, and Vardakis figured he’d give it a try.
Now, in the midst of his second internship as an events planner with Greenspun Media Group, he’s found his calling. “(The internship) has been nothing but good things,” he said. “The real-world experience is something you just don’t learn in the classroom. It really gave me that sense of direction … It ended up shifting my focus career-wise, knowing what I want to do.”
Vardakis’ coursework has encompassed both journalism and integrated marketing, which concentrates on advertising and branding. Learning both has prepared him for his internships — which he found through Hire a Rebel CareerLink — and his budding career, he said. His first internship at Henderson-based Greenspun — which owns the Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications — ran from January through May and focused on direct marketing.
Vardakis helped oversee ad production, sat in on client pitches, assisted with newsletter content, and helped social media managers execute campaigns through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. “It really showed me how important it is to have that journalism background,” he said. “If my boss were to come to me and propose a social media project, like a restaurant promoting a giveaway, I’d have to offer that editorial voice, especially for magazines and newspapers.”
The internships also introduced him to company’s culture and the role that plays in making good career decisions. Greenspun hosts regular informal company get-togethers that help young employees and interns network and develop mentors.
None of that experience would have come to him without his UNLV coursework, he said: “I couldn’t ask for a better major to suit me.”
Learn more about internships through UNLV Career Services.