Up Close & Personal
“It’s fun to see how much of what you’ve learned you can already apply.”
What is it like to be an apprentice at one of Europe’s top agencies for food ingredients? Kristin Thees knows. The 23-year-old is completing an apprenticeship at Bösch Boden Spies as a Business Administrator in Foreign Trade. In an interview, she talks about her desire to travel, little favorites, and a great love.
Kristin Thees’ started her professional life on a Monday. On August 1, 2016 she entered the company headquarters of Bösch Boden Spies – for the first time as an employee. To be more precise, as an apprentice on her way to becoming a Business Administrator in Foreign Trade. The 23-year-old Hamburg native is learning the business of the fruit and nut ingredients trade from the bottom up. Of course her training also includes classroom teaching: three times a week, with a focus on export and business administration, English, and Spanish. She is currently in the third and final year of her apprenticeship, so if everything continues to go according to plan, she will complete her training in July 2019.
Ms. Thees, you have been learning the business at Bösch Boden Spies for over two years now, are you still watching, or are you properly involved in the work already?
That always depends on the length of my stay in a given department. During my stint in Quality Management, I until recently handled the complete holiday replacement for a colleague, carrying out tests on finished products and raw materials, answering customer enquiries regarding our suppliers and products, etc. It is great fun to organize yourself and see how much of what you have learned you can already apply. At the moment I’m in Sales and prepare calculations, contracts and a lot of other things.
Did you want to go into the export business no matter what, or what else were you interested in?
It was clear to me relatively early on that I wanted my line of work to be something where I would have connections with abroad. I attended various apprenticeship fairs beforehand and quickly chose Business Administration in Foreign Trade. So I only applied for that, and luckily it worked out.
What has been particularly exciting, surprising, difficult or impressive for you so far? Let’s start with “exciting.”
Just the fact of starting here and entering the working life was exciting. Everything was new, uncharted territory for me. I went from school or, rather, a one-year break, into a completely new environment, got to know new people, had completely new tasks … all that is, of course, exciting.
Were there any surprises?
To be honest, I was surprised at how quickly I felt at home here. I came into a company with people who all already know each other and asked myself whether and how they would accept me. But it went surprisingly fast. And if I had any questions, I was able to approach anyone, right from the start.
What was difficult?
If anything, it was difficult to get back into school while also working. In the past, I had time off after school to study or relax. Now I have to organize my own time. That was a bit difficult in the beginning, especially during the exam phases, but over time I grew into it.
Was there anything that particularly impressed you?
Yes – the number of products that use our ingredients! I still find it very impressive to see products in the supermarket containing our ingredients. My first supermarket discovery was a pack of cranberries, I think.
Do you have a favorite in the ingredients portfolio?
I really like the snack almonds from our almond supplier Blue Diamond. And my parents love the chocolate containing our honey-and-salted almonds. In general, chocolate just about always works for me – and trail mixes containing raisins, cranberries or walnuts.
Do you sometimes notice that the company you’re training with is more than 100 years old?
At any rate it’s clear that there is a lot of experience in the company, and the employees pass it along to me, too. And the fact that Bösch Boden Spies and its suppliers have known each other for a long time and very well, that they trust each other and exchange ideas with each other is very evident.
You took a year off after graduating from school. Why?
I wanted to try something after graduating from school, and before entering the world of work. Once I had secured an apprenticeship, I lived in Spain as an au pair for five months and improved my Spanish.
You love to travel?
Very much! Even before graduating from school, I spent ten months in America. I guess I get the travel bug from my parents. When I was 11, I attended an international camp in Brazil with people the same age from many different countries, and since then I’ve loved to get to know new cultures, see new places, and gain new experiences.
Going to Brazil alone at 11 takes some curiosity and courage.
I’m definitely curious. Of course, when I was eleven years old, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but that got the whole thing rolling.
If you were to stay at Bösch Boden Spies after your training, travelling would probably be part of your job. Or do you have other plans?
Travelling is an important part of my life – and I’d like it if were to become part of my job, too. After my apprenticeship, however, I would first like to complete my bachelor’s degree while continuing to work.
As a native of Hamburg, would you leave Hamburg for your job?
I’ve already lived several months in a different country on several occasions, and who knows what else will come up. But at the moment Hamburg really is my home.
Why is Hamburg your great love?
Hamburg is simply the most beautiful city in the world.