What does studying at University actually mean?
What does studying at University actually mean? If you ask most students, it is highly probably they will answer « Studying? Well it’s all about attending classes, taking notes, spending afternoons and sometime evenings at the library with a pile of books, working in groups on current issues, learning models, graphics and concepts by heart etc… ».
Put together, regardless of the field, studying at an academic level is first and foremost about THEORY, which isn’t actually wrong, but it doesn’t always succeed in preparing the students to their future career.
It seems like people constantly talk about student professionalization, about professional integration, professional experience, etc… But how is it possible to acquire concrete experience when sitting on a chair all day while religiously repeating the teachings of professors? How to become a real professional when the vast majority of courses only prepare us to the theory? Better said, how can one acquire practical experience?
Aware of the « lack of practice » at university, Maximilien Notter – our Swiss of the Day – has dedicated himself to offering his fellow students the opportunity to acquire a true professional experience through concrete activities.
Maximilien : an insatiable professionalizer
While studying Business Administration at the University of Geneva, Maximilien – who was only 18 years old back then – participated in the creation of an investment fund whose purpose isn’t the maximization of profits but that seeks to teach students how to manage a portfolio and that trains them in the field of financial analysis. That is how the « Geneva University Investment Club », the GUIC, was born. The organization offers courses, conferences and allows its members to actually gain experience in financial management while collaborating with the University of Geneva, a private bank and an economic newspaper. The club thereby provides practical education to more than 30 students from diverse faculties.
Two years later, Maximilien crosses the « Röstigraben » to become an intern at Credit Suisse in Zurich. « I knew nobody in Zurich and I wanted to contribute in enriching the experience of all of the bank’s interns. I therefore created a group that gathered all the Credit Suisse 2012 summer interns and organized weekly afterworks, each time in a different bar, so that we could all meat and discover Zurich at the same time. I am very proud of having enabled the creation of many friendships between interns ».
Settling in St.Gallen to follow a Master Programme, Maximilien quickly noticed that the entrepreneurial and innovation worlds weren’t enough promoted at HSG. As a remedy, our Swiss of the Day participated again in the creation of a new University club, the « Young Entrepreneurs Club » which seeks to support students who consider founding a start-up. A network of experts in the entire country, workshops, conferences, practical lessons…the club offers the students many opportunities. Starting this semester, two projects emerged: « The Incubator Project allows all participants to create a start-up and build a prototype in a very short time, which they will then have the opportunity to pitch in front of investors. The Case Project provides a Consulting experience to participants who will have to solve a real-life problem that a Swiss Start-up is facing. »
The YEC even launched its own projects like « Cofoundme », a platform that makes entrepreneurial minds meet and start projects together.
An enriching experience for the others and for oneself
« I grew a lot as an individual and became fascinated by the development of a community that moves forward and that shapes itself step by step. Being able to contribute to the success and education of many students provides me with great satisfaction and pleasure. I only wish to share my experience and I hope it will motivate others to pursue their own goals. »
And what about Switzerland?
« My involvement both in the French and the German speaking parts of Switzerland made me realise how beautiful our country is. Being able to work and grow in such a multicultural environment is an amazing opportunity. »
Giving many students the chance to familiarize themselves with the « real challenges » of the professional world, Maximilien mostly offers a practical counterweight to the theoretical aspects of Universities. He represents a source of inspiration for future students, but why not for the academic world as well? To be discussed…
Are you interested in joining one of Maximilien’s clubs in order to put your knowledge into practice and to learn from experienced students? You will find information on the Cofoundme website.