Training South African youth at BastionLisa Flanders
Author: Amber Sharp
Forget every stereotype you’ve ever heard about interns. The days of fetching coffee and making copies feel like a distant memory, and we’re 100% here for it. New graduates want nothing more than to gain real-world experience; something that’s difficult to do when most entry-level jobs require three to five years, and we were all there once.
This often-overlooked talent pool comprises highly motivated students, who want nothing more than to contribute to our most pressing business goals in any way they can. They are brimming with fresh ideas and positive youthful energy, they are coachable and willing to learn, and they deserve an opportunity to get their foot in the proverbial door.
“Life is a continuous learning curve and there are many moments that appear to give us that chance to grasp and learn, and these can often come from surprising places. Belinda and I are always humbled to learn of how our youth have fought against the odds to complete their education and to hear of their continued fight for the opportunities that are so often seen as expected. We salute that spirit and courage and it is something that we never take for granted.”
At Bastion, we are passionate about youth empowerment, not only because it’s the right thing to do and directly benefits our business, but because we know that our interns have as much to teach us as we have to teach them. Our interns are selected through referrals by team members and business partners or have come to us from universities.
Four of our interns became a part of our permanent team last year and we couldn’t be prouder of how much they have grown and contributed to this business in such a short time. You never forget your first “real job”. Giving young people this kind of opportunity and really nurturing them, you just can’t buy that kind of loyalty and brand advocacy.
We started our internship programme in 2012 and it’s been running successfully for the past seven years. Over the past three years we have steadily increased the intake of interns on a yearly basis. This year we have had the privilege of moulding and learning from 10 incredible young minds, and we hope to grow this number in the years to come.
We have a training programme on what it is that we do and the skills that are needed from a work perspective so that our interns understand what is required and we offer mentorship from our team leaders and seniors in the business to offer invaluable insight into the work itself and to provide exposure to real projects.
“As part of our purpose and big hairy audacious goal, we strive to make a difference in the South African economy. By providing opportunities for young people to grow, thrive and add value in our business, exposing them to the country’s largest brands and giving them the real world experience of working with these brands, we are able to execute on this goal and realise the tangible impact of our actions.
Today’s youth are also technologically enabled and our focus on digitising our business lies in the ability to harness that strength. We believe that investing in our youth catapults our ability to achieve that while giving them the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the growth of Bastion, our clients and our economy.”
– Benjamin Joannou, CEO of Bastion Group