At Athene, we recently said goodbye to Hayden Brown who has spent just under a year with us before heading off to the University of Birmingham this September. Before he left, we asked Hayden to reflect on his time with Athene:
Getting the job
Whilst I was doing my A-Levels, going to university straight away seemed like the obvious choice: all of my friends were going, you get to live away from home and there’s plenty of time to enjoy a “non-alcoholic” drink or two.
When it came down to it and I was finishing my exams, a few issues occurred to me. I couldn’t cook, was completely unmotivated and had just spent the last 13 years in education – did I really want to continue that trend and settle down for another three years of studying without a break?
The short answer is no. I started looking for a job and found Athene.
I sent an email asking about work and was invited to come in for a chat a few days later. I explained what I was looking for as I was shown around the office, nervous that my lack of experience or a degree would instantly make me a non-starter. Yet, a few days later I received an email offering me a place as an Account Executive in the Community Engagement team, with one day a week working in Public Relations.
A few weeks later I started my first proper job. Having only worked part time in high-street shops and pubs beforehand, I was worried that I might feel out of place in an office or that a 9-5 would be exhausting, but luckily only 50% of those fears came true (I am terrible at waking up early). The welcoming and friendly culture at Athene meant that I quickly made friends and felt comfortable.
In my first week I had talks with some of the account managers about their projects to gain an understanding of the work that Athene does and to familiarise myself with the teams. Everyone spoke to me as an equal even though I was fresh out of school. The even playing field at Athene meant that I never felt out of my depth and had no worry to ask if I was stuck or didn’t understand anything.
I learnt quickly and got settled into my team, gaining an understanding of the worlds of both Public Relations and Community Engagement – something I didn’t know much about. I picked up knowledge about planning and housing and was introduced to local government and politics.
I came to Athene to learn and grow, and that I did. I’ve learnt how to organise my workload and meet deadlines; I’ve made friends and become a lot more comfortable talking to new people. Sadly, I still can’t cook, but you can’t have it all.
Athene allow you to take a day out of the office every month for ‘thinking time’, you can use it for training, planning, tidying up all of your emails or anything to make your work life easier. I’ve taken courses and written recommendations for new tools we could use at work.
Living the life
Whilst I have greatly enjoyed working this year, that isn’t what has made Athene such a special place for me – it is the people. As a company we are focused on having fun and socialising. We have events organised every year such as bowling, rounders and a charity quiz (Warwick Davies was the host this year).
Every Thursday afternoon we do ‘the board’, where we all come together and write down all of the funny stuff that has happened that week. This is a pretty unique thing and not many companies will put aside that much time just to have fun. It’s a really great way to get to know people and have a laugh.
On the last day before Christmas break, we were set a charity challenge to get as many people to sing a chosen festive song on video as possible. We were split into teams and given a time and place to gather our Christmas victims. I came into the office in a full Santa onesie and everyone else dressed as elves. We headed to the city centre and got 40 people to sing Last Christmas by Wham (we bribed them with free chocolate). It was insanely embarrassing but great fun looking back on it.
Ten months later as I write this, I know, for certain, that coming to Athene was the right choice. I have learnt so much during my time here, got used to working full-time and have made some great friends. I feel incredibly lucky to have found a company like Athene that has such an amicable and laid-back atmosphere as my first job.
I am going to the University of Birmingham in September and know that I am ready to move on. I’m ready to learn, meet new people and have new experiences. I should probably also learn to cook…
Hayden Brown, 19