In this edition of the Vertical Measures employee interview series, I sit down with VM intern Staci McCabe about intern life at Vertical Measures, attending Columbine High School and her love of politics.
Michael Schwartz: What do you do here at Vertical Measures?
Staci McCabe: As an intern at Vertical Measures since the beginning of January, I’ve had the opportunity to do lots of different things. For instance, I have edited articles, blog posts and other online content and compiled information to be used to create infographics. Still, most of what I do consists of link building on behalf of various clients.
Michael: What have you gotten out of this internship thus far?
Staci: In just the last few months, I’ve gained a lot of insight into the detailed workings of SEO. While I had some basic knowledge before the internship, I have learned so much from the talented staff at Vertical Measures. In particular, it’s been very interesting to see the impact that high-quality SEO efforts can have on sites’ rankings and to get a first-hand view of the changes in link building and content creation efforts as the SEO environment evolves.
Michael: Tell us a little bit about the origins of your name and why some of us call you Blue Rae.
Staci: The nickname comes from a kind of silly back story. Before I was born, my parents were convinced that I was going to be a boy and had thrown around the idea of naming me Blue. Luckily, they thought better of it when I turned out to be a girl. However, a fellow VM staffer combined the name Blue with my middle name, Rae, to create the infamous nickname Blue Rae. I guess I can live with the nickname, but all I have to say is, thank goodness I’m a girl.
Michael: You were a local fifth-grader during the horrible tragedy at Columbine High School. What was it like to be an elementary school kid on that terrible day? What kind of reaction do you normally get when you tell people you went to Columbine High School?
Staci: Actually, I rarely tell people I went to high school there because it typically evolves into a long discussion filled with pretty strange questions. However once people know, I’d say the most common questions people come up with deal with whether or not I was there, whether anyone I knew died and whether or not I felt safe attending high school at Columbine.
Michael: You previously interned with Arizona Congressman Harry Mitchell. How did you assist with his campaign and what did you learn from that experience?
Staci: I’ve actually interned for both Congressman Harry Mitchell’s re-election campaign and in his congressional office, both of which were amazing learning experiences. During my campaign internship, I did a little bit of everything, including assisting with press, volunteer organizing and financial and opposition research. Being able to dabble in a couple different areas gave me a rare opportunity to learn a lot about the organization and structure of political campaigns.
Michael: Why do you want to embark on a career in politics?
Staci: Politics has always been a passion of mine, but I’ve become more actively involved since coming to Arizona for college. Plus, I think that my degree in political science and public relations is a good blend that lends itself well to a career in politics. It’s a non-traditional combination that allows me to explore some different career opportunities within the political and communications arena. Ultimately, I would like to work for a PR agency that focuses on public policy or as part of the press operations for a member of Congress.
Michael: In what ways does social media mesh with politics?
Staci: While I think social media is having an increasing influence on just about every genre, I think it is an especially interesting force within the political sphere. Social media offers an informal, not to mention cost-effective, way to connect directly with people, which is a great alternative and complement to expensive political advertising. But it’s certainly not just about advertising – there are already some really neat examples of how people in politics are using social media to motivate volunteers, spread information and organize with like-minded people.
Michael: How excited are you to graduate from ASU next month?
Staci: I’m extremely excited to finish my undergraduate career! It’s been a fun four years, but I’m ready to put the textbooks and homework away for a bit and embark on the next part of my journey as a young PR professional.
Michael: What are your immediate plans after graduation?
Staci: After graduation in May, I will be heading to Washington, D.C. with an ASU-sponsored program. As part of the program, I’ll be spending the summer interning somewhere on Capitol Hill. There is no final word on where I’ll be interning as of now, but I’m very excited to spend the summer in D.C. and learn a bit more about press operations and political operations in the high-paced environment of D.C.
Michael: Finally, what do you like about interning at VM?
Staci: I’ve most enjoyed being able to work on a multitude of different projects, which makes for a great learning experience. But most of all, I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone at the office and having the chance to learn a little bit more about them and their take on where they see SEO efforts heading in the future.