Interview: Drop line, land corporate job

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DURHAM — Joanna Perricone was nervous when she first heard that her interviewer at Gateway Financial Partners of Glastonbury had discovered her hip-hop music online.

Prior to asking Perricone to come in for an interview, the company’s Director of Marketing and Communications Shannon Berube and Creative Director Faith Zeller had conducted a thorough Google search and discovered Perricone’s website www.joannaperricone.com.

It is dedicated to promoting her original hip-hop music, said Perricone, a Durham resident and Coginchaug Regional High School alumna.

About halfway through the initial interview for a marketing assistant job, Berube asked Perricone to elaborate on the musical interests they had discovered online.

“I just thought it was the funniest thing, because she was caught off guard,” Berube said, recalling that Perricone confessed she was “turning 50 shades of red.”

But when company President David Wood later sent Perricone an email asking her to write and perform a rap about the company during a second job interview, she accepted the challenge — and landed the job.

At first, Perricone said she was uncertain whether the request for a rapping interview was a joke or not.

It definitely wasn’t and “Dropping a Line and Landing a Corporate Job” can now be viewed on Gateway’s YouTube page.

The rap featured lines like “Confidently, I know I could add to your successes/I would like to help Faith and Shannon write a press kit” and “Impressions are imperative, see how well I handle it/I just marketed myself, so I know I’m your candidate.”

Perricone received a phone call with a job offer mere hours after performing the pitch in November.

The company was impressed by the personalized content of the rap, Berube said, and the guts it took to perform it. She set herself apart, which is what Gateway looks for in its marketing.

“She took information from the company and the web page and really made it a personal rap,” Berube said. “It took a lot to do that. It took a big risk on her part. We want to have a fun work environment and this was very unique. It shows us she was really interested.”

Job competition is fierce, Perricone said, and an invitation to interview is a rarity. She cited the high unemployment rate nationally and the higher-than-average rate in Connecticut, 7.9 percent, according to the state Department of Labor.

“It is a jungle out there. I had been job hunting for full-time employment for a year and a half, so it was a big deal when Shannon emailed me. I knew the rap was a big risk, but it was one I was willing to take,” Perricone said.

Perricone initially thought her interest in hip-hop might count against her as a candidate. “I didn’t think of hip-hop as something you can openly talk about in a corporate environment,” she said.

She was surprised to find out her music was “a huge positive,” she said.

It was a good fit, Berube said, since “a big part of marketing is thinking outside the box and a rap interview is definitely outside the box.

“Everyone out there is promoting themselves and we need to stand out,” Berube said. “Joanna stood out to us because she wrote a rap.”

Perricone also thinks it may be a sign that corporate culture is becoming more relaxed about employees who have public personal lives online.

Perricone first developed an interest in rap music at age 15. She said she started off as a poet and became interested in beat poetry and rap through the HBO show Def Jam Poetry.

“For the most part, I identify as a clean artist,” Perricone said. However, some of her tracks, which can be found on YouTube and SoundCloud, do contain strong language. Perricone said she is thoughtful about her use of language and makes sure it serves a specific artistic purpose.

Perricone previously worked for the SS&C SummerWind Performing Arts Center where she served as a development associate and operations manager. Prior to that, she was program coordinator for Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Florida State University with a master’s degree in arts administration and a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater.

Perricone released her first mixtape titled, “Who is this Girl?”, under the independent music label, “Connecticut People Records” in May 2013 . She is working on an E.P. titled, “The Wave Series”, scheduled for release in January 2014.

Several weeks into her new job, Perricone continues to impress.

“She’s a rock star,” said Berube. “We could not have made a better decision.”



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