Discover all sides of the bank through the Cooperative Traineeship

Joris Kursten, Coorperative Trainee

About a year and a half ago, Joris Kursten started the Cooperative Traineeship at Rabobank, without any background in finance. “I studied History and got the opportunity to do an internship in South Africa, for an NGO that focuses on nature restoration. That’s where I discovered the importance of augmenting sustainability. I then wrote my master’s thesis about economic history and found I had an interest in finance. That all came together perfectly at Rabobank.”

On this traineeship, you do multiple rotations over the course of a year and a half and get to know the bank and yourself. Joris explained, “I found a lot of very specific traineeships when I first started looking around. My education was more broad and I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. That is why this traineeship at Rabobank was an excellent opportunity for me to find out what was a good fit for me.”

The First Week

“What I remember about my first weeks is that there were a lot of presentations and lots of trainees and local bank employees to meet. In the early months there are a lot of training sessions aimed at expanding your financial knowledge, as well as soft skills development in Raboschools. I really liked one training in particular: the “Banking Simulation Game,” where you get to play bank director for a week and learn exactly how a bank works.”

After that, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Joris recalled, “I started in the Day-to-Day Banking Affairs department, where you come into contact with private customers. Then I got to keep moving around to different departments of the bank. First over to financial advice, where I learned to advise our customers about their finances. Then I moved on to SME advisory, where I got to help work out business plans. Eventually I moved to a rotation with the Cooperative Directors in Amsterdam to see how the different departments can implement the cooperative themes.”

Cooperatieve Themes

“It’s fascinating to realize how the bank is very much at the center of society,” Joris said, as he described Rabobank’s five cooperative themes: Sustainable Living, Sustainable Entrepreneurship, the Energy Transition, Leading a Financially Healthy Life, and Banking4Food. One of his assignments is linked to these. [1] “I worked on two features in the RaboApp: Energy Insights and Carbon Insights. The former shows customers how much energy they use and the latter shows the CO2 emissions related to their transactions. Focusing on the app was a conscious decision, because through it you automatically reach a lot of people.”

Outside Your Comfort Zone

According to Joris, doing rotations within the bank is a great way to learn. “Because you start a new rotation every four months, you’re always starting from scratch. Of course, you build on what you’ve already learned, but the positions and departments are new. On every new rotation I always chose a completely different position than I’d had before. That’s how you learn the most.”

Luckily, there is a lot of personal coaching, Joris explained, “There’s a Talent Manager, a
mentor, and a buddy. Every trainee also gets assigned to a ‘circle coaching group,’ a group of Young Professionals from various parts of the bank. In this group, you talk to each other about your strengths and weaknesses. In the context of personal development, we also took a trip to Schiermonnikoog (a small island off of the Netherlands). Nobody told us what to expect, but while we were out there, we really got to know one another.”

Own Initiative

Showing yourself is important as a trainee, said Joris. “You can get lucky, but things just don’t fall into your lap. Even with all the coaching, it is still important to plan your own appointments, get to know a lot of people, and talk about where you want to end up. Thankfully, everyone at Rabobank is very kind and eager to help you figure things out.”

The Next Step

Joris has almost finished his traineeship and is enthusiastic about the special opportunity he’s been offered. “My final rotation is bringing me abroad. I’ll be spending the month in Singapore! I get to work with Value Chain Finance, a department that is primarily focused on working capital solutions for large corporations. I’m also getting proper supervision for this too; this morning I received intercultural training to help me prepare for meeting clients in different countries.”

Reflecting on his time backpacking through Asia, Joris recalled, “After I graduated from college, I still did not know exactly what I wanted to do, so I went traveling through Asia. Singapore was on my wish list then, but I ended up not going there. I am excited that I get to travel there now, but this time as a trainee.” When asked about his plans after he finishes the traineeship, Joris had a simple answer: “I’ve applied for several different jobs at Rabobank!”