Valentinas Mitalauskas has been at LCC for about 3 years. During this short period of time, he not only helped LCC Moose basketball to succeed while playing in the forward position, but also gained knowledge and faced challenges as an International Business Administration major. When we sat down with Valentinas to talk about his way of balancing basketball success with a professional career, we did not predict that our conversation would turn to the topic of self-exploration and personal growth.
Could you please tell us about yourself? What did you study and how did you start your career in basketball?
I am from Kaunas, therefore, after graduating from high school, I enrolled in a university in Kaunas. I decided to study IT because this field seemed very interesting to me then. However, later I understood the reality of the situation – I could not balance the studies with basketball. At that point I was already playing in the National Basketball League on Šakių Zanavykos team, so I had to commute two times per day and it took an hour to get there. It was hard to balance between my studies and basketball. So, I decided to switch my major to marketing; unfortunately, it was still very hard to balance my studies with basketball. I understood that I needed to change something. As a saying goes, one will not be a basketball player forever, so I wanted to have a plan B career, which the university education would provide me. I wanted to go to the USA to study and play basketball, but this idea came to me too late. Many prospective basketball players go there to study while still in high school so that later they can have more chances to get a scholarship.
How did you find out about LCC?
I remember I spent my holidays in Klaipėda, and the LCC Moose basketball coach offered me individual basketball classes. Then I did some research about LCC International University, and I really liked this university as well as Klaipėda with its calm atmosphere and the sea. That is how more than 2 years ago I became an LCC International University student. Two of my friends also decided to come at the same time.
In your opinion how is LCC different from other universities?
My first impression of LCC was extremely positive and my perspective has not changed since. Studies at LCC were amazing – there were many people from different countries, the professors were very welcoming and the classes were interesting. The communication with foreigners was warmer and more open than I was used to. I remember there was one class during the fall semester when it was still warm; the professor took us outside. We were sitting on the grass and listening to him lecturing. It was unreal. We were taking pictures and sending them to our friends and parents because it was so unusual and fun. I cannot imagine this type of class in other universities. I really liked that LCC is a small and cozy university. At the beginning it was very unusual that classes here take place in very small classrooms because if the professor asks you a question, there is nowhere to hide. You always have to interact, discuss and answer the questions; you need to be active in the classroom. It was a huge difference in comparison to other schools and universities which I attended. When I got used to it I noticed how useful it is; you do not even notice how much you learn.
What do these four years at LCC mean to you?
At the beginning it all seemed very easy. I was excited and everything was going smoothly. Later, I started to miss home and doubt whether it was a good idea for me to move to Klaipeda. But now, when my studies at LCC are coming to an end, I understand how this place has transformed me as a person, how it has changed my thinking. My family also sees the way I have developed as a person. I have expanded my worldview, I have different views on things I had before, and my English has improved. These have been years of self exploration. Of course, I have learned about business and economics but these years at LCC helped me to find myself the most.
If you are ready to accept all the information, you will be interesting for the employer not only because of your skills but also because of your personality. Before, I was limited by basketball, but now I am interested in things I could have never imaged I would be interested in. Now I feel liberated because I can conduct a dialogue on topics other than basketball. LCC taught me how to study and what education really means, and it also taught me the importance of self-exploration.
You have mentioned that here at LCC you learned many things about yourself. Where do you think you could use this knowledge?
This will definitely benefit me while applying for a job. I think these days employers value not only professional skills but also your personality traits and your decision-making skills. Also, I think self-knowledge plays a big role in interpersonal relationships. When you communicate with people you do not pretend to be someone you are not. You are more aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
How are you doing on the basketball court?
I am telling everyone that this year has been challenging for me. I have to choose my next path and make a decision. I have to decide whether I will pursue professional basketball or something else. I have already made a preliminary decision and now I am trying to focus on that. I would say this year I am not playing as well as I did before; however, as a person I feel much more developed than before.
This year you participated in the Lithuanian student basketball awards and you actually won a prize as the best basketball player at LCC. Why do you think you were selected?
I also asked myself this question and talked with the LCC President Marlene Wall. She said that I perfectly represent LCC‘s mission while maintaining a sucessful basketball carreer and balancing it with full time studies at LCC. Here at LCC we do not value an athlete-student as much as a student-athlete, so studies are always a priority.
What are your future goals and plans?
Recently, I became interested in renewable energy and automobiles, as well as electronics, so my long-term vision would be to work for Tesla company. I really like the vision and ideas of Elon Musk. I did my practicum in a Littlefuse company that manufactures electromechanical products. I really like what they do and I am even writing my thesis about them. I would really want to work for them one day. Regarding short-term goals, I think “You plan and God laughs.“ I really wanted to go to North America and when I was a first year student, I met my girlfriend, who has a green card. Now I laugh that in the end I will probably end up there anyhow.