Isobel Kelly and Rhett White are two junior hires who were offered positions at Australian independent communications group Bastion Collective after undertaking the Bastion “Bridge” internship program and navigating the job arena in a post COVID environment.

The program shifted to being completely remote as a result of COVID last year. Positioned as an immersive professional development opportunity for students, the program was quickly adapted to accommodate the new normal of remote working. It is a hugely important part of the company’s talent program as it provides 95% of all entry level positions.

Bastion Collective’s General Manager, People and Culture, Edwina Webb commented, “In the middle of last year, with the universities going completely online, we saw that there was increased demand from students looking for creative ways to complement their studies with practical, hands on experience.

“There was certainly some trial and error in the first few weeks to get the program right, but with regular coaching, check-ins, feedback sessions and inclusion in all cultural initiatives (albeit all via video hang outs), we were able to offer a valuable, high touch experience.  We have since brought several of our “COVID cohort” on permanently this year – and they are flying – so it’s testament to how successful the program has been – for them and for us.”

Last year Isobel was in her final year of a double degree, Bachelor of Arts (psychology) and Bachelor of Business (marketing) at Monash University. Having heard about Bastion Collective through a family friend, she applied for the Intern program through the recruitment portal on the Bastion website.  After an interview with each of the Talent team, and the Intern committee, Isobel was accepted to take part in the six-week placement; two days per week across October and November.

Isobel said: “Because of COVID, I was living on our family farm near Anglesea in regional Victoria and completing my final semester at uni. I really wanted to do the Bastion internship and was so grateful to be able to do it 100% remotely. I didn’t go into the Melbourne office once.

“Thanks to Microsoft Teams I was speaking with someone from the Bastion team every hour. I could still experience the culture, through screens and messages, and everyone was friendly, very encouraging and hardworking. That was so good to be a part of – even without a physical office to go to.”

Isobel finished her studies in November 2020 and was then offered a full-time position with sponsorship and experiential agency Bastion EBA. She explains, “In January I got the best call I’ve ever received”. Isobel now works as an account executive supporting the team across both client services and brand experience and is pleased to be exposed to a mix of both areas of the business and gaining direct experience with key clients such as Bunnings, Under Armour and KIA.

Isobel added: “This year I am looking forward to COVID restrictions continuing to ease, and as my first year in a marketing role, it’s a bit daunting but I am so excited to get stuck into it, work on more exciting clients and continue to learn and grow”.

Rhett White, currently studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in marketing at RMIT University is another recruit who participated in Bastion’s Bridge program remotely in July last year. He added: “As my internship was during stage four lockdowns in Melbourne, I was seeking new experiences in which I could learn and grow. The whole team at Bastion were extremely welcoming and knowledgeable, often spending extra time with me to help me further understand the business and the industry.

“I enjoyed working with live clients and feeling as though I was actively contributing to the Collective and adding value through offering new perspectives on briefs.”

Rhett now works as a junior creative strategist, part-time at Bastion EBA, whilst he completes his final year of his degree.

Phoebe Whitnall started her career via an internship with Tomorrowland Group in Sydney before it was acquired by Bastion Collective in 2017 where she stayed on, first as an intern at Bastion Collective, and then in a full-time role. Phoebe has since been promoted twice within integrated communications agency Bastion Effect. 2021 marks her fourth year with the agency.

Phoebe, based in Sydney, said: “I originally found their internship through Pedestrian TV’s job board. I was interning with ELLE Magazine in their features department at the same time but hadn’t done any other PR internships prior.

“I came into the program with no practical experience and through my internship I was given hands-on experience in PR and the chance to put my skills into practise. I worked closely with several people in the team on different tasks and clients, learning the fundamentals of PR – everything from pitching to event management to reporting.”

“I enjoyed that every day was different, as it gave me a well-rounded insight into a career in PR and a chance to constantly learn and improve my skills.  It also helped me to get a well-rounded overview of the industry landscape as I got to experience working across multiple Bastion businesses and work out what I liked best.

“Before I started my internship, I thought that I was going to end up as a journalist but my time at Bastion Effect really changed that and made me realise how much I enjoy PR and wanted to pursue that route instead. I also always saw myself operating exclusively in the fashion and beauty space, however I’ve since worked on so many other interesting clients that I wouldn’t have had the chance to if it weren’t for Bastion.

“From global tech companies, to international fashion and beauty brands, to property and FMCG – I’ve been exposed to an incredible range of clients since my intern days and that has really defined my career and the direction that I am heading in.

“Mid-2021 actually marks 4 years since I started my journey as an intern at Bastion which is a huge milestone! I’m looking forward to another jam-packed year with my Bastion Effect team producing more epic work for our clients.”

This article was first published by AdNews Australia on 23 March, 2021. Click here to read on AdNews.