The number of graduate positions available in the UK has dropped for the first time in four years following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, statistics from the Association of Graduate Recruiters have revealed. Peterborough PR and communications consultancy, Athene Communications, has recently recruited to its team including a position at graduate level. This was a relationship formed when new executive, Sam Ladds, was a student at Ormiston Bushfield Academy linking in with Athene’s company values to support its communities and colleagues. This feature looks at the advantages to businesses of forging relationships with schools and sixth forms
Starting university is an invigorating, fun experience. The new friends, the nights out, the shared living and, of course, the lectures and learning. However, gone are the days when a bachelor degree alone guaranteed your dream job, so students are encouraged to consider their future years much earlier and take advantage of any vocational or extra-curricular opportunities. The recent findings from the Association of Graduate Recruiters add weight to the line that getting in to university is just the beginning, with still some uncertainty around the future following the vote to leave the European Union.
Peterborough PR and communications consultancy, Athene Communications, now in its 14th year since it was set up by Managing Director Richard Astle, has expanded its team this year. The newest recruit is Sam Ladds, and her story offers insight into how businesses can provide students an avenue to employment during their sixth form studies.
Sam, who now works as an Account Executive, said: ‘I first got to know Athene Communications after meeting a few members of the team at a focus group they were holding at my school, Bushfield The Athene Community College, now Ormiston Bushfield Academy. I was in the school’s sixth form.
‘I was interested in a career in Marketing and PR and started off by spending an afternoon at the Athene office every Tuesday throughout sixth form. I was thrilled to be invited to start working full weeks at the office during my holidays whilst at university.
‘I graduated this summer with a First Class degree in English and History from the University of Birmingham and was overjoyed to find out that there was a permanent place waiting for me at Athene when I finished university. Within a few months of graduating, I had a full time position working with clients I love. I am mainly working on our education accounts at the moment, but have plenty of chance to get involved with other accounts when the opportunity arises.
‘I cannot thank the team enough for giving me the chance to have that experience of the working world at such a young age. It has opened up so many doors for me and made finding further experience even easier.’
Sam is one of three Account Executives currently with Athene. Marketing and PR Executive Curtis Doyle started straight from Nene Park Academy on an apprenticeship scheme and Community Engagement Executive Jon Orrell, a former Arthur Mellows Village College student, joined after graduating from the University of Chester. More short-term opportunities are offered throughout the year, with two other former city students, Katie Liggins from The King’s School and Hugh Markham from Stamford, recent faces in the Athene office.
The Athene full-time cohort is now 16 strong and the company’s key focus is on four areas of communication – PR, Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Education PR and Internal Communications. With strong links to Peterborough, a number of Athene’s clients are city-based, but the scope of works spreads further afield with schools and businesses in Cambridgeshire and across the UK.
This success was recognised at the CIPR Pride Anglia Awards when Athene Communications won Regional Campaign of the Year for the Teach Peterborough campaign. With roots established in Peterborough, Athene takes every opportunity to give back to the community in line with its company outlook. Each year Athene donates a sizeable amount to four charities chosen by its team. Previous recipients have included Peterborough Soup Kitchen, Free Kicks Foundation, The Rudolph Fund and Peterborough City Hospital’s Radiotherapy Department.