Alumnus Travels World Before Returning to Job in Global PR

Langlois Indonesia
Langlois enjoys a view in Indonesia.

Austin Langlois, a 2013 graduate with a major in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Spanish, knows his way in the world.

In the past year, the peripatetic PR professional has been all over Europe, including Croatia, England, Spain, Germany, Greece, and Italy. He’s been to the Canary Islands, Iceland, Egypt, Lebanon, Mexico, and Bali.

Unlike some college students who see the world right after graduation before settling down, Langlois had some good work experience before embarking on his global adventures. He was a full-time intern at Amway while in school, and then hired after graduation. He worked with the company from 2014 to 2017.

In 2018 he moved to Miami to work at a tech PR firm with a unique agency model where each staffer was the only person on an account. Work was all retainer based and what Langlois calls very intense. He was expected to have 30 media placements per month. He left after 7 months but had gained great experience—he got clients in the New York Times, Forbes, Buzzfeed, Men’s Fitness, and CNBC as well as other national media. He honed his media relations skills and pitching at this job.

But it was a former boss who got him trotting the globe.

“My old boss at Amway said what would you do if you could?, and when I said travel she said why aren’t you doing that?” Langlois explains. “So I sold everything, shipped a bunch of stuff to my parents’ house and booked a one-way ticket to Bali.”

He was based in Bali. From there he went to Thailand, Japan and Korea, as well as other places mentioned above.

“I went where the weather was good,” he said. “I would stay three weeks to a month, sometimes less. I came in as tourist and also worked remotely. Then at a coworking place in Bali where I frequented they asked me about being a marketing director. So I did that for four months before deciding to come home.”

He made a living while traveling by freelancing for magazines and doing public relations for a handful of clients, including Amway and Boxed Water and other clients he picked up remotely. He wrote articles for Bon Apetite, Grand Rapids Magazine, TimeOut Miami, While he could easily work remotely, he did occasionally have to join conference calls remotely at 2 am.

“I was making enough,” he said. “It’s cheaper to live outside the U.S .so you don’t need to make as much. I didn’t have a lot of expenses by not having a car. A lot of people look at travel at this big thing but you just take steps like anything else. You have to sell stuff, budget, look at costs of living in different places, and understand priorities and objectives in traveling. For me it was to work and travel at the same time.”

Eventually, Langlois wanted more stability. He had kept in touch with Amway and they were one of his clients, for whom he had done media relations, crisis communications, corporate communications, executive communications, speechwriting, strategy and planning. Hired at the beginning of 2019  to return to the home office, his role is social media for Amway Corporate and he is PR lead for Home and Durables brands, a $1.5 billion brand.

Langlois has advice for students that is characteristically adventurous.

“Always take the meeting,” he says. “Even if you’re not looking. Explore every opportunity. I’ve interviewed everywhere from British Ambassador office to Samsung. Sometimes I wasn’t a fit, sometimes they weren’t, but you learn about other companies, workstyles, leadership, and where you fit in the competitive landscape. Also, it’s good to try to find a position outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to look for jobs outside the country or outside your career trajectory or plans. You may find the experience will be useful or that you find that it was more enjoyable than you imagined.”

You can see Langlois’ articles and photos of his world travels on his website:

Alumna Named Employee of the Year at Brain Injury Rehab Center

Mari Behovitz with Employee of the Year Award.

Mari Behovitz, a 2017 graduate of the Grand Valley State University Advertising and Public Relations program, has been recognized by her organization, Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center (Origami), as their 2018 Employee of the Year.

Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centeris a non-profit resulting from a unique alliance between Peckham, Inc.and Michigan State University.Origami provides comprehensive rehabilitation care for survivors of brain injuries and their families. Origami has experienced exponential growth since opening their doors in 1997 and now employs over 130 people.

Behovitz joined the Origami team as their Community Relations Specialist in October of 2017. In her role, she is responsible for increasing community awareness and upholding Origami’s professional image through marketing, media relations, event planning, and volunteer coordination.

“I knew right away that this was going to be a great fit for me,” Behovitz says of seeing the job posting. “Strong leadership, positive corporate culture, and the ability to creatively use my degree have always been values I hoped to find in a job, and that’s exactly what I’ve found at Origami.”

Behovitz says she enjoys having the ability to multi-task and work on an array of projects rather than focusing solely on one portion of marketing for her company.

“Something I love about my work is the spontaneity of it,” she says. “I am all for being organized and having set processes, but I love that each day is a little different and allows me to face new challenges and continue to grow as an advertising and public relations professional.”

Each year, Origami recognizes five employeesin the categories of Business Operations, Client Care, Client Support, Clinical Excellence, and Employee of the Year. Team members throughout the entire organization have the opportunity to nominate their co-workers who they feel are going above and beyond their typical job duties to live out the organization’s mission.

In her role, Behovitz has immersed herself within the Origami team and that of the mid-Michigan area. She was recently appointed as Co-Chair of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan’s Emerging Leaders group, is a member of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and is active in the local chapter of PRSA.

“Mari has consistently exceeded goals and expectations for our organization and we are extremely proud to have her on our team,” said Chanin Heise, Director of Development and Communications for Origami.

Behovitz shared that one of the most humbling aspects of receiving this recognition was having the opportunity to read the kind comments that her peers submitted about her during the nomination process. One co-worker commented on Behovitz’ performance stating, “Our increased visibility in the community is due in large part to Mari’s contributions over the past year. She approaches each day with positivity and excitement. Mari shows up for Origami every day and that should be recognized.”

Behovitz says she is extremely thankful for the experience, friendships, mentorship, and growth that Origami has provided her over the last year.

“It’s hard to imagine that my job could get any better, but 2019 is already proving to be one of my best years yet,” she said. “I am so excited for what the future holds and for all of the challenges and opportunities for growth that lie ahead.”

Tammy Hannah, Origami’s President and CEO says Behovitz has advanced Origami significantly.

“Mari has taken Origami to a whole new level with social media and many other projects,” Hannah said. “She approaches all of her projects with great attention to detail, passion, and creativity which makes her such an exceptional team member and an emerging leader for our organization.”

During her time at Grand Valley, Behovitz completed four internships and was very active in the program’s two student organizations, Grand Valley Advertising Cluband the GVSU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America(PRSSA).

Behovitz reflects back on her time at Grand Valley and encourages all APR students to get as involved as possible.

“I am forever grateful to Grand Valley’s APR program because I entered the real world feeling extremely prepared” she said. “The curriculum, outstanding professors, and the student organizations truly provide the building blocks for a successful career as long as you’re willing to take advantage of the opportunities available.”