23 Feb 2011

Getting to Know You: Adam Courtney

In this edition of the Vertical Measures employee interview series, I sit down with VM’s first intern Adam Courtney, who now does link building strategy. Adam discusses link building, his love of aviation and what it’s like to be the son of a state senator along with offering some dating tips.

Michael Schwartz: What are your main responsibilities here at VM?

Adam Courtney: I am a link building strategist, so I spend most of my time helping our clients get quality links on relevant websites in order to increase their search engine rankings as well as increase their traffic.

Michael: You were Vertical Measures’ first intern and have now been promoted to part-time status. How big of an honor was it to chart the path for all VM interns that have come after you?

Adam: It was definitely an honor being the first intern here at VM, and it was fun to come back after the summer to meet the new interns and employees who had been hired after me.  I guess you could say that I felt like a “New/Old” employee when I came back to VM in the fall.

Michael: What have you learned about manual link building in your time on the job?

Adam: I’ve learned that quality link building often takes quite a bit of time, effort, and patience.

Adam Courtney

Michael: You took a leave of absence over the summer to fight fires in Washington. What was that experience like?

Adam: It was actually my second summer fighting forest fires in Washington State for the Forest Service.  It’s an extremely labor intensive job where it’s common to work 12-16 hours a day in hot and dirty conditions and not take showers for a week or more.  But there is also quite a bit of interesting science that goes into preventing and fighting wildfire, and seeing the coordination that it takes among overhead and firefighters to fight a wildfire that may be thousands of acres is impressive.  I am a very adventurous person and enjoyed the physical challenge, not to mention that I have made many life-long friends doing it.

Michael: Another one of your passions is the field of aviation. What kind of experience do you have flying planes and how do you see aviation factoring into your future?

Adam: When I was about 12, I decided that I wanted to become a pilot so I did everything in my power to make that happen.  I was at my local library all the time reading books and magazines about flying.  I used to beg my dad (who is actually terrified of flying) to take me to the Salem Airport every weekend, just so I could walk around and look at planes and talk to pilots.  After a few years I finally joined a flying club back in Oregon and began taking flying lessons when I was 16, and got my Private Pilot’s License when I was 17, in a small airplane known as a Cessna 152.  Unfortunately, the last few years I haven’t flown as much as I have wanted to because of other commitments like school and work, not to mention that it’s fairly expensive.  But I still do fly when I get the chance, and I am seriously contemplating jumping back into flight training in order to get more advanced certificates and ratings.  My plan is to continue to work at VM until I can convince Arnie to buy a Gulfstream 500 so that we can all take trips to Hawaii every weekend.

Michael: What it’s like to be the son of Peter Courtney, a long-time state senator in Oregon?

Adam: Whenever people ask me this question I really don’t know what to say about what it’s “like.”  But I will say that I look up to and admire my dad immensely.  He is by far the hardest-working person I know, and even when he is not working, he still is “working.”  And what I mean by that is that his hobbies outside of work are cleaning the bathrooms, raking leaves in our yard, and working on our dock that we have on the Willamette River next to our house in Oregon.

Michael: What’s the best advice he’s ever given you?

Adam: Probably the best piece of advice he has given me is to be willing to compromise and be flexible with people.  There’s going to be people in life who you can’t stand or who have conflicting views from your own, whether they are coaches, teachers, professors, bosses, or coworkers, but if you want to be respected you have to be willing to make an honest effort to work with them and sometimes compromise even when you would rather not.

Michael: I’m just starting to learn to appreciate sushi, but whenever I want to go you’ve never turned me down. Why are you so addicted to it?

Adam: I’ve always loved fish.  And turning down your amazing company during lunch would be too difficult for me to do, Michael.

Michael: As one of the few eligible bachelors in this office (along with me) the topic of the ladies often comes up in our conversations. What’s your strategy when it comes to attracting the fairer sex?

Adam: Well, just to begin with, I think it’s best not to settle down until you are 35 at the very earliest.  I used to say that I wouldn’t ever get married until 28 at the earliest, but I realize now that 28 is just over four years away for me, so I had to up the appropriate marriage age.  If for some reason I do get married before I’m 35, you have my permission to print out a copy of this interview and give it to me as my wedding gift.  Back to your original question, I’ve never really had a so-called “strategy” but I’m a firm believer that when it comes to the opposite sex, “they want what they can’t have,” so it’s always good to keep that in mind.

Michael: What did you major in at ASU and how has that advanced your future career?

Adam: I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, so for the first year and a half I was undeclared at ASU.  Then halfway through my sophomore year, I received a letter from ASU that essentially said, “You have x-number of credits, you have to declare a major this semester.”  A business degree seemed like a good degree that could be used in a variety of fields, so I chose Marketing.  To be honest though, I believe many college marketing courses are way behind the curve when it comes to the industry today.  The quality of instruction I received was excellent, but with the exception of a digital marketing class I took as a senior, the emphasis is still on traditional forms of marketing such as print, television, and radio.  I was definitely fortunate enough to not only take that digital marketing class that did a great job of covering internet marketing, but to also get an internship with Vertical Measures during my last semester of college.

Michael: What do you like best about working at Vertical Measures?

Adam: I’m going to go with the seemingly endless supply of Coke Zero we have stocked in the fridge.

I guess I also have to really admit, the people I work with are really awesome as well.  I enjoy the fact that each person here comes from such a different background and although we all work in the field of internet marketing, our hobbies and interests are all very different and interesting as well.