31 May 2019, Text: Michaela Schaub, Photo: Stefan Michael
Helvetia helps talented athletes to complete a basic commercial apprenticeship – despite the high levels of stress in professional sport. Thanks to flexible and needs-oriented apprenticeships, the young athletes should be able to concentrate on their sporting career while at the same time preparing for success in their first job afterwards. This is helping skier Timon Engler and ice hockey goalie Luca Hollenstein to live their dreams.
There's no stopping him: Timon Engler is in the junior squad of the Sarganserland Walensee ski association. In his discipline, he has already picked up countless gold and silver medals – all while training to become a commercial employee. But this success is just one side of the coin. As a professional athlete, he is under constant pressure. If you want to be successful in your job, you have to be able to deal with stress. Timon tells us how he manages to stay relaxed despite the high stress levels.
It's an exciting feeling before each race. I try to concentrate on myself and don't allow myself to get distracted. I don't like being bothered by other people. Before the competition, I think about good performances from the past again to motivate myself even more. And teamwork is key. I notice again and again that team spirit is a really important thing – especially when I see our success at the end. You have to be able to trust your team. If you have a basic sense of trust in your colleagues and yourself, then it makes the stress of the situation much easier to manage.
Good time management is very important, especially in winter, because I spend more time on the ski slope than in my office chair. This means I have to plan everything in advance and let my team know when and for how long I will be away.
I try to distract myself as quickly as possible or focus on the next race. If I spend too much time thinking about a bad performance, I lose valuable time – time that I need to concentrate on the next competition.
Accident risk, protection and fair play are three key concepts that apply not only to Helvetia, but also to ice hockey. Luca Hollenstein can tell you a thing or two about this: he's the goalie for EV Zug. In a brief interview, Luca explains how he juggles sport and professional training.
I have to be totally on top of things in both environments. Sport must not suffer because of work, and vice versa, naturally. Another thing they both have in common is patience, I think. If something doesn't work straight away or if I’m annoyed, I try not to get upset but rather keep calm and try again.
Helvetia provides a lot of support. It allows me to attend every training session, which is very important for my sports training.
Defeat doesn't always have to be a bad thing. You shouldn’t bury your head in the sand – you should make the best of it and learn from your mistakes.
In collaboration with the United School of Sports and Minerva, young athletes at Helvetia can find a training position in which they can complete their apprenticeship. The professional athletes work the same amount as «normal apprentices» during a year. To this end, Helvetia has to remain flexible and offer apprentices the freedom to practice during the training season. As such, it agrees on an annual work schedule that generally lasts longer than one year. The apprentice is in the office for 50-90% of the time, depending on the agreement.
What's more, sport and career have more in common than you might think at first glance: a high level of personal motivation is essential for overcoming defeat. Self-reflection also comes into play in both areas, as athletes on apprenticeships learn from their failures, helping them to improve and surpass themselves. With a tight schedule, they need a lot of self-discipline and good time management. Athletes on apprenticeships are true organizational geniuses, keeping to the tight schedule of sports training and office hours.
Helvetia received the «Leistungssportfreundlicher Lehrbetrieb» (performance sport-friendly training company) award for 2018/19 for its commitment.
Ready, steady, go!
Your entry into the world of work is an exciting time! All the better if the new chapter in your life starts on a positive note from the word go: friendly, helpful colleagues, interesting tasks and a varied range of training and career development options will ensure that your first step on the career ladder is a great experience.