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A scholarly athlete in the Julius Baer Apprenticeship Programme

The Julius Baer Apprenticeship Programme allows Kevin Schunck to maintain a structured balance between his education and work. In fact, as a student of an innovative educational institution, he can also combine his schooling and love of finance with his passion for a rather unconventional sport.

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Self-described as communicative, ambitious, and quiet in nature, Kevin Schunck is like any other teen. His hobbies include travelling, listening to music, and spending spare time with friends. In August 2018, Kevin started his apprenticeship at Julius Baer. Unlike most other apprentices however, Kevin is enrolled at the United School of Sports. With a unique educational concept, the school allows its students to pursue their athletic goals in tandem with a traditional education, which, in Switzerland, often includes an apprenticeship.

A supportive environment and mission to employ

Julius Baer gives apprentices the opportunity to work in various departments of the Bank and focuses on training them with the goal of employing them once they’ve completed the programme. “In my current rotation I’m working in alternative investment processing, so I do back office work for hedge funds, as well as middle office work for traditional funds. At first, I thought it might not be as interesting as front office work, but it’s been very eye-opening. I think it’s important to learn both front and back office processes to do your job properly.”

Having heard only positive reviews from former apprentices, Kevin was convinced that the chance to pursue his interest in finance at Julius Baer would be a unique opportunity and describes the programme as flexible and understanding. “Benjamin Süess, head of the programme, as well as my practical instructors have been very supportive of my strict schedule. They completely understand if I need to leave at 5 p.m. sharp to make it to a sports practice or a competition on time – no questions asked.” 

A relatively young Olympic sport

So what sport does Kevin specialise in? For many, the question evokes imagery of soccer players passing a ball down a field or ice hockey players shooting a puck into a net. In fact, neither come close. “I ride BMX,” says Kevin. “You can actually do either freestyle or racing, but my passion is racing.” For those unfamiliar with the sport, Kevin goes on to explain: “It’s like motocross racing, but with a bike. There’s an outdoor track with eight riders racing against one another. The first one to cross the finish line wins.”

In October 2018, Kevin won the coveted silver medal in the BMX team competition at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games. “This has definitely been the highlight of my sports career,” he adds with a smile. “What’s more, Benjamin Süess wrote an e-mail to all apprentices and my division at the time to congratulate me, which made me very happy. This warm atmosphere is what makes the Julius Baer Programme stand out among the rest.”

Further support and activities for apprentices

Support and encouragement from management is extended through regular meetings with supervisors to ensure apprentices are happy and well adjusted. “There’s open communication within the programme, and there’s always someone you can approach.” This is enabled largely by the low apprentice-to-supervisor ratio, another aspect of the programme which facilitates communication.

Apprentices also take part in soft skills training and internal banking workshops, where they become familiar with important business standards and essential banking terms and processes, respectively. In addition to training, they even get to experience Julius Baer history in the making: “Just recently we attended Julius Baer’s Annual General Meeting, where new members for the Board were elected. That was quite interesting,” says Kevin. “There’s also a city and culture day, where all apprentices spend a day together learning about a Swiss city.” It’s also an ideal setting for team-building activities and networking, much like the one-week summer camp in August, which is planned and organised by the apprentices themselves. There, new apprentices are onboarded in the company of current apprentices, who share their experiences and impart their words of wisdom.

Looking ahead

Having nearly completed the first half of his two-year apprenticeship, Kevin has had time to reflect on his future career ambitions. As his interest in finance has only grown since joining Julius Baer, Kevin is looking forward to continuing on his current path in the future. “I’d actually really like to work at Julius Baer in private banking – that’s something I’m very interested in, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it in my next rotation.”

And what advice does Kevin have for future apprentices? “It’s not so much advice as it is reassurance – the atmosphere at Julius Baer is welcoming and everyone is very accommodative, which facilitates learning and allows you to enjoy every aspect of the programme.”