Working at Marx Layne, a Farmington Hills public relations firm, is no guarantee that you'll go on to a career in the same industry.
According to founding partner Michael Layne, former employees have gone on to become dentists, lawyers – even a Lutheran minister. In all, he estimates, more than 120 people have come through the doors over the past 25 years, and last Wednesday night, many came back to celebrate the firm's silver anniversary.
"We wanted to thank them for their contributions to our success," Layne said.
For some, the contribution was relatively short-lived. Sherice Snead of Southfield said she was a Marx Layne employee from 2005 to 2007.
"It was awesome," she said as she stood just a few feet from the desk she occupied during that time. "Marx Layne always kept me on my toes. I learned how to prioritize ... and how to fix the copier."
Snead now works as a graphic artist for Lakeshore TolTest, which provides construction, environmental and energy service to federal and municipal agencies, as well as commercial clients.
Alums who have gone on to careers in media or public relations include Karen Dumas, former communications chief for Mayor Dave Bing and the City of Detroit; Marcia McBrien, Public Information Officer at the Michigan Supreme Court; WWJ radio anchor Mike Campbell; and Michelle Gilbert, Verizon Wireless public relations manager.
Jennifer Cherry started as an intern with Marx Layne, while working toward a second degree in communications after earning her first in microbiology. Now, she's a senior vice president, manage the company's social media and serving on the management team.
Cherry said the industry has changed a lot since she started, and the company has grown, bringing on new account assistants even as Michigan's economy has taken a beating.
She said the company's dress code is generally casual, which contributes to "an environment that allows you to be very creative ... You're given the rope to run with it, to accomplish the goals for our clients."
"We work very hard, and I think our clients appreciate what we do," she added.
Employees filled a conference room Wednesday, sharing memories and enjoying refreshments as jazz duo George Benson on saxophone and Buddy Budson on piano performed "to get the cosmic spirit of our office to realign," Layne joked.
"Life is a path," he said. "For 25 years, this has been a great journey. Sometimes it's rocky, sometimes it's smooth. Sometimes, it's eased with a little martini."