O. Vaitkevičienė: in VMU you can feel like a colleague
A graduate of the Political Science bachelor‘s programme and the Integrated Communication master‘s programme, Odeta Vaitkevičienė, talks about her studies in the Faculty of Political Sciences and Diplomacy.
What motivated you to choose these particular programmes (political science/integrated communication) and why, out of so many programmes offered by various universities, you chose Vytautas Magnus University? Was it a lucky coincidence or a long-term goal?
From my teenage years I had the desire to be a journalist, I went to journalism school, where talented and competent lecturers talked about how to be a professional journalist. Lecturers would often suggest in indirect ways, that it is better to have a bachelor‘s degree in the field which you want to write about, and then complete a master‘s degree in journalism. I thought, that I would find it most interesting to write about politics, so political science caught my eye. Why integrated communication? I thought that it is a field, which is very close to my bachelor‘s degree, because I had also completed a minor in public communication. This continuity occurred naturally. While I was studying, I liked everything, everything felt right. I liked what I did, what I heard, the lecturers, the team and the whole package. Even now I tell many people, that I miss the University and the spaces. Even today, while I was going to the interview, I was thinking that even though so many years seem to have passed since I finished my studies, everything seems so familiar and attractive when I come back.
My studies in VMU were a complete coincidence, because throughout my whole life I always thought I will only study in Vilnius, nowhere else. Probably because I myself am not from Kaunas, I, like many others, had my eyes set on Vilnius. Why Vilnius? I don‘t know why, I cannot explain. Maybe because it is the capital. I remember like it was today, when it was the last evening when you can edit your priorities in your online application, and at five minutes to midnight I completely turned that list upside down. I don‘t know why, but I put the VMU Political Science study programme at the top. There is no explanation why. Nobody could understand me – not my parents, nor my friends, but when I got a chance to study for free I didn‘t think twice about studying somewhere else, because I was happy at that moment. That‘s why I said, that it was a complete coincidence, there were no plans. It was probably fate. Just like fate put many things in place after I finished school.
What did the VMU Political Science and Integrated Communication programmes give you?
Maybe it is better to say what they didn‘t give me? Because I can name many things – a wide point of view, knowledge, communication, great people that I have met – and I am not even talking about my fellow students and lecturers, that I still talk to when I meet them. Experience, internships, because if we are talking about internship opportunities, I think I took all the available opportunities. One of my internships was in the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, another one – in the consulate of Spain, and I also went to an Erasmus exchange. Which is why I would like to say – it is better to ask what the university didn‘t give me, and what it could give in the future. VMU fulfilled my expectations completely, because before studying there, I didn‘t even imagine what it could be like to study there. Overall, when you are accepted to university, it is a completely new step.
What did you like most in VMU? What advantages could you name? Maybe something was missing?
It is a difficult question, especially about what was missing. For me personally, the biggest advantage, and the main thing that I always tell everyone outside of VMU, is that you feel like you belong. Not just between your fellow students, but also between lecturers. To me, for example, it was important that I was never afraid to ask questions, I was never afraid to stop a lecturer before or after a lecture or, if I need to, just write them if I have a question. That sense of belonging and trust I could only call being a colleague. In the University you can really feel like you are a colleague. It was extremely important, at least for me. I am happy, that I didn‘t have to sit somewhere in the corner, too afraid to ask a question or come to the lecture at all. Overall, I would be happy to go to lectures. I could really say, that I was that strange girl, because often others would think how to skip lectures, while I would feel bad if I missed a lecture. When you come to a lecture you can learn so many things, because the atmosphere is different.
What is your current occupation?
Currently I am the head of the Kaunas district police department communications branch.
Three main things, that a student should do to achieve what you have achieved, or more…?
It‘s different for everyone. I cannot name three things, because there are no three special steps, goals or recipes that would work for everyone. What I could suggest is to enjoy everything that VMU and all the people in the University have to give. To enjoy, and take as much as you can when it comes to knowledge, experience and internship opportunities. That is very important for you as a personality that is still discovering itself, for a future professional. Only theoretical knowledge is not enough for you, so you need to be curious, active and open to new things and new information. And, of course, you have to reach for your dreams, even though I couldn‘t say that all the things I did after university were related to my goals, because, as I have already said, many things in my life happened purely because of fate. It is also very important to improve yourself, widen your point of view, communicate. It is important to expect a lot from yourself. You don‘t need to have big career goals, but you have to really want what you are doing.
What are your proudest achievements?
To be honest, I could not say that I have achieved so much, even though when I think about the time that passed since I have finished my studies, it seems like there really is something to be proud of. I am quite critical and I do not think, that where I am right now is my final stop. Maybe someday I will go back to university, and then I will be able to say that I got everything that the University has to give. Now I think I am still in the process of achieving my goals, and in 5 or 10 years, maybe, I will be able to talk about my achievements.
Did your studies in VMU Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy contribute to where you are now? If yes, how?
In my opinion it definitely did contribute, because I became the person I am now mostly because of the University. Of course many things come from your family, childhood and teenage years, but in one‘s career path the university is a very important stop. Just after finishing my bachelor‘s I immediately got a job in Vilnius during Lithuania‘s presidency in the European Union. It just so happened that my job was directly related to my field of study. While I was finishing that job I applied for a master‘s degree, where I deepened my knowledge of public communication and public relations. After finishing my master‘s degree I got my current job. Everything was somehow closely related. I tend to think that what the University gave me while I was studying Political Science gave me a lot of things that helped me in my previous job. It was completely related to politics and international relations. In the end, my language skills helped as well, since I did most of my work in English. After I became more confident in a different field, I can now feel good in my current job. Both study programmes, which are, in my opinion, closely related (even though the titles are different), gave a lot when it comes to my professional achievements.
What would you like to wish to those that dream of studying, or are planning to study in the VMU Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy
Lots of curiosity and lots of courage. Courage to take everything, that VMU has to give. It would probably be the main wish, because the prospective student has to be truly curious and brave. Brave to ask, learn, go to lectures and listen – because you can read at home, but lecturers, who share their experience, will give you a different picture.
When did you start and finish your studies? Which programme?
2009-2013 – bachelor‘s in Political Science
2010-2013 – minor in Public Communication
2013-2015 – master‘s in Integrated Communication