Michael Martin, a 2020 LCC graduate from Canada, is this year’s winner of the “Best Student Paper” award at the Advances in Business Research Conference held by Tarleton State University. Michael shares the exceptional experience of writing his first research paper at LCC International University, guided by its supportive faculty members. Currently, Michael’s work is being scholarly reviewed for further publishing while he eagerly awaits his next step in the world of academia.
What is the Michael Martin story?
I am from Canada and just recently returned home after living in Selçuk, Turkey, for eleven years. During my time there I pastored a church and volunteered with helping Syrian refugees. For almost a year and a half now I have been enjoying my time working in the administration office of the transportation company Enviro-Eze Transport. Besides that, since I have dedicated twenty-five years of my life to being a church minister, I continue serving a couple of churches at the moment as well. In general, I keep myself busy with all kinds of things, while adjusting to life in snowy Canada after being away for so long.
How did you get involved with LCC?
I found out about LCC International University from my friends Kirk and Shelly Coffelt who used to teach there. In addition, Shelly Coffelt established the International Management Master’s program at LCC so I had a very good understanding of what awaited me. Another thing that drew me to LCC, among other universities in Europe, is the fact that it is a thesis writing degree, where I would not only study but practice my newly acquired skills. At the same time, I was very excited and terrified to go through the research process, which I had never done before, and I learned so much from it. I had heard many good things about the program from people who had completed it and, as a bonus, was delighted to find people I knew in this international environment. I did not see any red flags and thought that LCC was the place for me, so I went for it.
Why did you choose a Master’s in International Management?
In 1994, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Theology, but have always had an interest in economics as well as in some aspects of management. When I started thinking of getting my Master’s, I was not sure which path to choose for my studies but felt that the International Management degree could be very engaging and a great opportunity to understand leadership from a business perspective rather than only a spiritual one. I wanted to enhance the knowledge I gained over the years and add some new instruments to my tool kit of being a leader.
What did you gain studying International Management at LCC International University?
I did a big part of my program online but fortunately got a chance to spend time on the LCC campus. I had a wonderful time experiencing Klaipeda and spending time talking to students and faculty. It was so nice meeting people from different parts of the world and listening to their life stories. My overall experience at LCC was amazing. I not only received a great deal of knowledge and guidance from one of my thesis advisers, Dr. David Deviney, but we also became good friends. LCC has opened many doors for me to present and publish my work, which has been a wonderful experience so far. I loved Klaipeda and I loved my time at LCC. Hopefully, someday I will get back there again, maybe even as a member of the faculty.
What was the topic of the paper you wrote?
I was very interested in the topic of employee engagement and wanted to do something in my field of ministry and church-related industry. For my thesis paper, I studied employee engagement with millennial ministers working in other cultures. Millennial values and expectations are different from previous generations and these differences affect their levels of employee engagement.
I did a survey of 49 millennials, born between 1980 and 1996, and studied the factors that increased their work engagement. In addition, nine factors that significantly impact millennials' level of employee engagement were obtained from a literature review. The participants were asked to rank these nine factors in order of importance as they saw them affecting the protagonist of the scenario's level of engagement. The goal of the study was to find insights that would help recruit more millennials to work in cross-cultural ministries and to keep them engaged in doing the work there. It was fascinating to see some of the unexpected outcomes of the study and learn from that experience.
What motivated you to submit your paper to the Advances in Business Research Conference? Did you have any help from LCC with your paper?
My thesis advisor, Dr. David Deviney, was extremely encouraging. He urged me to submit my paper to the conference as he also works with Tarleton University. I also wanted to see what my work was worth. I put my heart and soul into this paper in an effort to make it profound. I truly wanted to see what kind of response I would get from the academic world on my first attempt at truly academic writing.
Dr. Deviney was also very instrumental in helping me understand the fundamentals of writing this type of paper and understanding how to approach it. Dr. Scott Stewart was also very kind to help during my writing process. Alongside researching and reading academic papers to grasp how the paper should be properly structured, I received much help from LCC professors as well as from my wife. Beginning learning and writing from scratch was challenging, and I had to push myself to be consistent and dedicate at least a few hours a day to working on it. Writing a thesis was a considerable amount of work but in the end, it was worth every minute I spent working on it.
Why do you think your paper stood out from the rest advancing it to win the award?
I think it is a unique topic that most people do not find important enough to discuss. My topic is not necessarily something people even think of when discussing employee engagement. I believe my topic is not only unique but also practical for getting better results from employees. Another reason it is an interesting paper is because it answers the question of how business owners can receive more interest in the business world by putting employees first instead of putting profits first, and getting the most out of people without trying to exploit them.
How did you feel after winning the “Best Student Paper” award?
The news of winning the award amazed me and spurred me to want to do more writing and more research. With just my first try in writing a research paper, there are many things I could have done better and I definitely did not expect it to go so far and win the award. This writing experience and being published is life-changing and a great honor not only for me but for my family as well. People have always told me that I am a good writer, which encouraged me to be better and do even more writing and research.
What do you think is the most important aspect of writing a good paper?
In order to write a good paper, you need to immerse yourself in your topic. You need to read a lot and study your topic to the point where it becomes a part of your life. You must feel that you have a really good grasp of things and become completely familiar with your subject. Writing a good paper requires not only a lot of time, but discipline. Do not try to get through it too quickly just for the sake of being done with it.
Read widely as much as you can and take notes on studied material so that you can be certain that the work you are doing is worth something. The most important part of writing is to be consistent with it and do at least a little bit of work every day to make it a habit. I struggled a lot with procrastination because I was worried that I would write low-quality material that nobody would be interested in reading. Nevertheless, I pushed myself to at least try because there is always room for improvement.
What are your plans for the future?
After taking a little break from education I would like to do my Doctoral degree. I am not sure if I am going to continue with management studies or go back to theology, but I am definitely excited about doing more academic work and research.
Can you give advice to current LCC students?
I would say walk through the open door that is in front of you and don't be worried or anxious about what is going to happen in the future. Try to take it day by day and the doors will open for you in the right time and the right place, you just have to keep an open eye for them. Keep pushing on as far as studying goes and absorb all the knowledge you can get here. I know that student life is fantastic and fun, but it also can be distracting from the main reason people go to university. Take advantage of the time that you have to study, and become the person you want to be in the future. Try to balance your life to have fun and immerse yourself in the things that you're learning.