This format was created in response to an increasing number of part-time students at the JKU's Business School. There are many students who already hold a part-time - or even full-time - job but still wish to complete a university degree while working. The program is an alternative to evening and weekend classes or distance learning approaches. We developed a program format to accommodate young professionals. Students are asked to take a year of educational leave from their respective jobs to focus solely on the one-year program at the JKU. We strongly believe the full student experience includes peer-based and experiential learning on campus and together with other students and as a university, we feel offering this is a crucial part of any educational experience. The LIO Master's degree program is, of course, not only open to professionals but to all driven and ambitious students from around the world and from different disciplinary backgrounds who want to learn about leadership and entrepreneurship, building innovative and change-oriented organizations, and managing creative teams in a digital economy.
Secondly, this first year of the LIO program was also unique because of the coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly, in March 2020, we had to move our on-site classes to remote learning. This was very challenging as a large part of the program features interactive experiences and discussion-based learning in the classroom. We have taken advantage of remote educational options to the fullest, creating new course formats, such as the award-winning "Organizing in Times of Crisis, opens an external URL in a new window" course as well as a virtual "entrepreneurial challenge" where students had to creatively grow a seed money budget of €10 (no cheating or illegal activities were permitted!) and narrate their entrepreneurial story as part of a YouTube video. Still, the pandemic has been tough for all of us as students are spending a lot of time in front of screens and a few have to find a balance between personal responsibilities and their studies. One student had to return home however, we still have been able to help our students cross the final finish line..
Thirdly, despite the pandemic, we were able to recruit an amazing new cohort of 15 LIO students. Some students, unfortunately, had to drop the program on short notice due to uncertainties in regard to travel and living in a foreign country during a global pandemic. The two cohorts were introduced to each other during our online Touchdown and Take-off Event. Despite the event being online, students were still able to become better acquainted during small discussions in the breakout rooms and could continue building their network virtually or in person in our LIO LinkedIn Alumni Club, for example. The event featured remarks by Program Director Prof. Elke Schüßler, the CEO of Netural, opens an external URL in a new window (one of LIO's company partners), Albert Ortig, and two graduating LIO students who spoke about their experience in the program.
Some student messages included remarks such as: "The biggest impact during my LIO year has to be my colleagues: working with 18 people who have very versatile academic and professional backgrounds has helped me not only to acquire new perspectives, but constantly challenge myself" and "Leading an organization means much more than striving for performance and regularly checking and responding to key figures. It also means participating in a social ecosystem and continuously rethinking one's view of this ecosystem”. It seems that despite the pandemic, the first cohort of LIO students got the most out of the program. We wish them all the best!