“So many people at WSU helped me become a better leader,” says Brian Patrick.

“Get Involved,” Brian Patrick Tells WSU Students

By Becky Kramer

Brian Patrick went all out for his first career fair at WSU, dressing up in a suit, printing out résumés, and preparing an elevator speech.

“That was great!” an impressed E & J Gallo Winery recruiter said after his speech. “How old are you?”

“Nineteen,” he replied.

The early initiative paid off for Patrick, a Carson College of Business management student. He kept in touch with the E & J Gallo recruiter, landing a summer internship when he turned 21. After he graduates in May, he’ll go to work for the company full-time.

The career fair is characteristic of Patrick’s time at WSU. He grew his network and leadership skills by showing up, building connections, and following through.

During his sophomore year, Patrick was club president of the WSU Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). The experience he gained in the role influenced his decision to run for ASWSU president, a post he held his junior year.

“I had some high school leadership experience, and it was a skill I wanted to focus on in college,” Patrick says. “So many people at WSU have helped me become a better leader.”

“Brian is one of those students who got so much out of his education, and much of it came through his connections,” says Ron Moser, scholarly associate professor in the Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship. “If you put Brian in the middle of a piece of paper and diagramed his WSU network, you’d have a tree with a big canopy and extensive roots.”

The Cougar Network

Patrick grew up in a Cougar family in Yakima. His parents, Eric (’89 Comm.) and Wendy (’89 Busi. Admin.) Patrick, met while they were WSU students, and his older sisters, two aunts, and an uncle are also WSU alumni.

Early exposure to the WSU Cougar network helped Patrick understand the value of extracurricular activities. During his first year at WSU, friends and fraternity brothers urged him to get involved in clubs and events. The message was reinforced by the college’s Carson Career Amplifier Program, which encourages students to participate in activities that develop professionalism and career readiness.

When leadership opportunities arose, Patrick made a point to challenge himself. “I was going to run for SHRM treasurer,” he says, “but the club needed someone to step up and be president.”

As club president, Patrick learned how to create agendas, run meetings, delegate tasks, and keep his team on track for meeting goals and hitting deadlines. Getting students motivated to attend club meetings over Zoom during COVID was the club’s biggest challenge. “By the time I stepped down, we had 120 people tuning into the meetings.”

Patrick met weekly with Moser, the club’s advisor, who became a mentor throughout his time at WSU. Kay Meyer, a member of the college’s National Board of Advisors, also mentored him.

With a background in business coaching, Meyer was a valuable resource. “She was always there with tools and practical suggestions,” Patrick says. “She provided lots of insight into managing teams and utilizing people’s best abilities.”

Leading during transition

Patrick was AWSU president when students returned to in-person classes after the pandemic shutdown. Together with his vice president, Alexander Pan, Patrick worked on communicating students’ needs during the transition to WSU administrators.

After being involved with his fraternity and the Carson College, representing nearly 17,000 undergraduate students in Pullman broadened Patrick’s views of the university.

“Being ASWSU president was a big step,” he says. “It really opens your eyes to the wants and needs of the diverse student body we have here at WSU.”

“As president, everyone is watching you,” Patrick adds. “Being in student government puts you in the spotlight, but it’s rewarding to work with other student leaders as part of the university’s legislative process.”

Looking forward

During his senior year, Patrick’s leadership roles have moved back into the Carson College. He’s a teaching assistant in Moser’s classes and a student representative on the college’s National Board of Advisors.

Patrick has stayed active with SHRM in a behind-the-scenes capacity. He’s been a resource for the club presidents who followed him, answering questions and providing suggestions. He also refers younger students to the club, encouraging them to check it out as a place to gain skills and grow their leadership ability.

“With Brian, it’s not a one-way street,” Moser says. “He’s not just about what he can gain from the connection, but how he can give back. He has a kind, engaging personality.”

“Get involved,” is Patrick’s advice to other students. Yes, academic success is important, he tells them, but prospective employers are also interested in what happens outside of class.

“They’re interested in people’s life skills and experiences,” Patrick says. “Take some chances at WSU. Go out and try new things.”