Fast-changing trends, innovation and advances in technology dictate a need for both general intellectual talent and specialization in the job market. If 15 years ago it was sufficient to be skilled in one specific profession, nowadays it is not necessarily enough, and businesses prefer employees with practical expertise as well as a wider skill set. Therefore a future-oriented, versatile university education plays a significant role in equipping students with the right skills. LCC International University, located in Klaipėda, Lithuania, offers a unique, future-oriented style of education and an interactive academic environment. With a total of 568 students, LCC is preparing outstanding talents for regional and global markets. Klaipėda ID spoke with Vilma Songailaitė, Corporate Communications Director of LCC International University, about their teaching focused university, talents and diversity.
Vilma Songailaitė / © LCC International University
Klaipėda has been home to LCC International University for almost 30 years. How did the LCC story begin? How does it differ from other universities in Lithuania?
LCC started in the summer of 1991, at the invitation of the Ministry of Education and Culture. LCC began with only 22 students. Now the university offers Bachelor (B.A.) and Master (M.A.) degree programs to a uniquely diverse student body representing over 40 countries, provides student exchange possibilities, and for the community offers various evening and summer programs. Students can choose from 6 B.A. and 2 M.A. programs and travel to such far-away countries as China, Georgia, South Korea or the USA.
LCC International University is a nationally and internationally recognized liberal arts institution, established by a joint venture of Lithuanian, Canadian and American foundations. An integral part of LCC’s uniqueness is providing a North American style of education in the region of Northern Europe. As an international university with wide-ranging student and faculty diversity, the international distinctive is mirrored by the high-quality program content, interactive teaching approach, and dynamic student life programming.
LCC's innovative liberal arts approach to university education provides every student with a traditional professional specialization, but emphasizes a broader training in especially those skills that employers most want: in particular, outstanding communication, effective collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.
LCC students are valued by many companies in Klaipėda. How do you cooperate with businesses? What kind of student persona does LCC shape? And what in your opinion makes them stand out in the job market?
LCC constantly enhances the involvement of business in education. The business-academic cooperation encourages the exchange and sharing of knowledge, opens internship opportunities for students and increases overall competitiveness of graduates in the job market. Though we are happy with the current results, we see even more potential for Lithuanian companies to attract and retain our multilingual and resourceful talents should they seize the opportunity to introduce more internships in English along with the current Lithuanian ones. The majority of our students are not native Lithuanian speakers, but fluent English speakers and would consider the possibility of staying in Klaipėda and adding to the wellbeing of this lovely city.
Our students are valued not only in Klaipėda, but also in the whole region and all over the world. They secure jobs in far-away markets such as Australia, China, the United States, India, the United Arab Emirates, France, Sweden and many others. 90% of LCC alumni find jobs immediately after their studies.
Our LCC university education prepares professionals who learn how to adapt to a fast-changing environment; thus our graduates find their paths in a variety of fields and professions. Most common, if to single out a few, would be various international businesses, consulting companies, banks, educational institutions, different NGO’s, etc. However, there are also many who start their own companies -- confidence and measured risk-taking is a strong component of the LCC graduate persona.
The strong academic background and values by which LCC operates, empower our students to excel in whichever profession they eventually choose to pursue. Critical thinking, ability to adjust and adaptability to the ever-changing work environment, great English skills, and multidisciplinary knowledge are among the top drivers of success for our alumni.
To illustrate the wide variety of industries our students to which our graduates contribute, I would like to present a couple of examples. Ieva Pikžirnytė graduated from LCC with a degree of International Business Administration. In 2013, she earned a Master’s degree (MSc) in Food Identity from the Groupe Ecole superieure d’Agriculture d’Angers in France. Ieva is now a local and regional food and drink expert as well as food editor, and works for the famous Lithuanian company, Beatos virtuvė. Eleonora Jonušienė, who graduated from LCC with degrees in English and Business Administration, succeeded in an entirely different sector. She is an intercultural expert with more than 15 years of experience in a fast-paced environment within the intersections media, entertainment and technology. In 2006 she received an MBA from Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden, and since 2009 she is the Director of International Consumer Insights & Research at Warner Bros Home Entertainment in Los Angeles. Eleanora is an active member of the Lithuanian-American Business Association and an advisor for Global Lithuanian Leaders Awards. She is an active member in the #metoo movement and volunteers for initiatives that demonstrate that she is a servant leader. She is committed to being a builder of society where human rights are at the core.
You have a very diverse community. There are students from 43 countries, providing many cultural variations and a mixture of religions. How does LCC manage this diversity and multiculturalism? How do you prepare your students for immersion in Lithuanian culture?
They say – “Practice what you preach.” As an international open-minded university, we prepare our students for a multicultural environment by deleting boundaries between cultures and celebrating inclusion right here on campus. 43 different nationalities indeed means vast diversity, and differences in worldviews and traditions. However, instead of focusing on what separates us, we highlight respect for the individualities of our students as well as for faculty and staff, and we encourage everyone in our community to get to know the various cultural backgrounds by organizing cultural days and spreading a culture of appreciation and respect.
Upon arrival, all students go through an intensive 4-day orientation program where they are introduced to LCC academic and student life as well Klaipėda itself. We have tours around the city and later on we have weekly sessions for all first-year students that tackle all kinds of cultural issues. International students also have to take at least 1 Lithuanian language and culture class as a part of their B.A. degree.
We encourage vibrant LCC community life through joint activities. For example, we celebrate every country’s Independence Day, where students have an opportunity to introduce their cultural traditions, national dances, music, and food. We also have various community building events, clubs to join, and basketball and football teams to compete in. We encourage students to develop their leadership skills as well, offering student leader positions and excellence awards.
Perhaps the most daunting challenge is the adaptation period. It requires flexibility and an open outlook not only from foreign professors and international students, but as well from the local students. 68% of our professors come from Canada and the USA, thus students and faculty members alike must adapt to a new community.
© LCC International University
Concluding our conversation V. Songailaitė mentioned that LCC International University is already developing further directions that include technological advances, economic needs and possible expansion of the campus.
LCC’s future-oriented education equips already talented students with practical expertise that employers greatly value today, opening up outstanding work opportunities.