Patrick Donahue has been involved in career services for more than 20 years. His previous positions in higher education include director of career services at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, from 1999 to 2003, and assistant director of career services at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1993 to 1998. Before pursuing a career in higher education, Patrick was a journalist for the Virginian-Pilot, the executive producer’s assistant on the TV show Coach, and a production assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He believes a college education gives students opportunity and time to learn more about themselves in an environment that is both challenging and supportive. It’s the responsibility of the student—with the support of Patrick’s team—to take advantage of these opportunities.
Best Career Blunder
Patrick’s best career blunder was being a veterinary assistant and cleaning cages from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. at his father’s veterinary hospital when he was in high school.
On one day, in the space of 15 minutes, I was bit by a dachshund on my hand and scratched by a tomcat from my elbow to my wrist. Trying to give me a break, my dad sent me outside to trim the hedges. I cut a wasp nest in half and was stung by two wasps in my face. Despite a tough start to my day, I still needed to take care of our family business, so I worked reception and assisted clients who had lots of questions on why I had bandages on my finger, arm, and face. I remember one client who said, “Jeez, my dog and I were having a bad day until we saw you.”
Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. Hard work, persistence, a positive attitude, and good sense of humor can overcome almost any difficult situation. And it’s okay to tell your dad you don’t want to do what he does and that you want to do something else with your life, even if you don’t yet know what that something else is.
Ten years later, I was working as a journalist, and I interviewed a local philanthropist who was known for always finding the joy in life, and I asked him the secret of his happiness. I keep his words in a frame on my desk. Here’s what he said:
If you want to feel good for an hour, take a nap.
If you want to feel good for a day, go shopping.
If you want to feel good for a month, take a vacation.
If you want to feel good for a lifetime, help someone.
Education and Certifications
- Master of Education, College Student Personnel Administration, James Madison University
- Bachelor of Arts, Communications, James Madison University