Career Transitions: Collections to Marketing

Today I’Joe Peluso headshotm sharing some Q&A from a friend, Joseph Peluso who recently joined the team at AAA of Western and Central New York in their newly formed Marketing Coordinator role.  Joe shares his insights on changing your career path and best practices for those in the job market.  Enjoy!

Q.  Can you share your career and background with us?

A. West Seneca, NY, born and raised!  My career path is unorthodox in that I started in my current career later than most. Out of high school, I went to Fredonia, but only lasted 3 semesters. It’s not what you think… I got involved with the school’s entertainment board, Spectrum; booking shows on a large and small scale. I loved that experience and originally though I wanted to be a concert promoter.  After Fredonia, I spent 9-10 years languishing in the collections world, which I absolutely hated. So, being unhappy all the time at work and feeling the pressure of turning 30, I decided that it was now or never and went back to school at Buff State to finish my bachelor’s degree. Six months shy of my 30th birthday, I walked out of there with a bachelor’s in Public Communication! After school, I did a summer internship at Eric Mower + Associates, which was an unbelievable experience; and for the last 2 years or so, I have been interning at You and Who, a buy-one give-one t-shirt company based in town, where I still help out whenever I can. Oh, that reminds me… support You and Who on Indiegogo!

Q.  Congrats on your new position with AAA!  What is your new role like?

A.  Thank you! I’ve only been here for a few weeks, so I am still getting settled in. The hardest part has been shedding my “new kid” skin and getting acclimated. Fortunately, everyone has been very welcoming, so it has been an easy transition so far.

The job itself actually didn’t exist before I was hired. So, I’m in a unique position in that I have a hand in carving out my own role at AAA. It’s really exciting!

Q.  What were some of your deciding factors in selecting AAA as the next step for your career?   

A.  As these things usually go, a friend referred me for the position. She worked for AAA for a number of years and loved it and thought I would too. During the interview process, it was really the people I was meeting with that attracted me, though. They’re some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. The opportunity to learn from them was a very big draw.

Q. Any exciting projects in the works you can share?   

A.  I will say this: AAA’s commitment to member service is the real deal. Everything we do is for the members, and work is constantly being done to offer them more products, services, discounts, you name it.

Q.  What are you enjoying most about your new role?

A.  I think the trust that AAA has already shown in me is my favorite part. I am only a few weeks in, yet I have already been able to work on a number of projects where I am able to work pretty much autonomously. It’s a far cry from the intense micromanagement that I have experienced in some of the jobs I held previously.

Q. What advice do you have for other job seekers in the WNY market?

A.  NETWORK!  Meet every single person you can, shake their hand, ask them every question you have and be very kind to them. I’m convinced I would have ended up back in collections if it weren’t for the unbelievably supportive network of people I have amassed and the courage it took to amass it. There isn’t enough bandwidth on the internet to list them all and express how thankful I am for all of their help. Hopefully, they know who they are. The point is, you just never know who is holding your next job. For instance, I met my boss, Julianne, a full year and a half before I got hired at AAA. When I was finishing school and getting ready to get out there and find work, the same friend who referred me put a copy of my resume in Julianne’s hands to critique, and invited me to come in for a focus group. Sure enough, when this job came up a few months ago, she remembered me. The rest is history!

Knowing your brand is huge, too. Mary Beth Popp from EMA gave me this advice and it helped so much. Interviews only suck if you’re just throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks. The way to always have a good interview is to know yourself and your abilities, know the company you’re interviewing with and know why it makes sense for you to be there. If you go in and represent that well, it’s a good interview whether you get the job or not.

Don’t fall in love with a place you’re trying to work for, either.  It’s okay to get excited, but most interviewers can spot the difference between a player and a fan from a mile away. Anyone who knows me, knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Thanks Joe and best of luck in your new role!  For more information about career opportunities with AAA of Western New York, visit:

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