Career Advice from Patrick Harrison

Andrew Stez

A successful career is what many Seattle Pacific University students crave, but for many, the path seems unclear or even impossible.

Patrick Harrison, an SPU alum, was invited by Lambda Pi Eta, a nationally recognized honorary club for communications majors, to speak about his career at the “Broadcast, Broadway, and Batman” event.

“It was a really cool opportunity to extend to not only comms majors, but other fields as well about tips for after college,” commented Elizabeth Stover, co-president of Lambda Pi Eta on campus.

Harrison shared many details from his long career spanning multiple companies and industries, but this career path didn’t always seem clear to him as a college student.

After college, Harrison expected that he would be handed a job, but as he soon found out this would not be the case.

Harrison, unable to get a job, sold his car and hosted modeling classes in order to get by.

Luckily, Harrison, after struggling, was able to get a job at Frederick and Nelson, an old department store chain. Harrison slowly began to get to know people in the marketing department, which allowed him to get an advertising position at the company.

Harrison commented how it was a shift in his mindset from “talking but never listening” to perfecting his listening skills that allowed for him to secure this position.

This strategy would become extremely important in his career, as it allowed him to develop connections with people who helped him land his dream job at KMTT, a local radio station, to work in their marketing department.

This was one of many career changes, reflecting a life philosophy that Harrison has followed throughout his life.

“Don’t just sit there and do the same thing,” Harrison said to students at the event.

Harrison once again made a career change when he switched to promoting Gargoyle and Adidas sunglasses.

Harrison emphasized the importance of taking risks in career pursuits by telling a story from his employment with Gargoyle and Adidas sunglasses.

Harrison messaged the prop manager for the show “ER,” a medical show starring George Clooney, about using Gargoyle lenses in the eyewear the doctors wore on the show.

What Harrison did not know was that the actors were experiencing problems with the current lenses, allowing for Harrison to work in Hollywood providing glasses for the cast for five years.

This was all due to Harrison taking a risk that paid off.

Harrison then went on to make another career-altering decision by moving to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a dream of his ever since falling in love with the city when he visited it in the 1980s.

In Puerto Vallarta, Harrison’s career continued with him working remotely for Warner Bros. Entertainment managing the Batman brand.

However, tragedy soon struck, as a shooting occurred that tarnished the Warner Bros. brand. Warner Bros. gave him a choice: move back to the United States or leave the company.

It was between two dreams: the place or the job that he loved.

Rather than give up on his dream to live in Puerto Vallarta, Harrison decided to start his own PR firm that focused on English language PR services to local businesses.

Once again after owning his own business for years, Harrison would move his career in a different direction.

Harrison decided to switch industries by getting involved with Broadway productions in Seattle with The 5th Avenue Theater, similar to an earlier part in his career when he worked at the Paramount Theater. He also promoted various plays including “Rent” and “Stomp.”

With such an expansive career, Harrison still emphasized how a successful career does not happen overnight.

Harrison suggested for students to set 10-year goals for their life, such as his goal of being a homeowner by 30, live abroad and own his own business at 40, and be in a place financially to retire by 55.

Harrison also stressed how students must also keep an open mind.

“Be open to your passions,” Harrison said. “No job is beneath you.”

Harrison suggested that students start with figuring out the industry and people they would like to work with. Then, students should work their way into their preferred professions.

“I think there are strong truths in cliches,” stated Kristina Smith, a film studies and communications major who attended the talk. “If you really put your mind into something and stick with it, it’s definitely not going to be easy, but you can do it, even if it means sweeping the floors to the top.”