Behind The Click: Adria Richards, Organic Technology Consultant

February 20, 2012  |  

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Welcome back for another profile spotlight! This time I thought I would check in with a fellow tech pioneer and organic technology consultant Adria Richards. Not an executive, not a start-up chieftan; Adria provides a service which lights a torch for those trying to make their way in the new era of digital business by providing special insight. What type of insight you may ask, and how? Well, read on to find out!

LDC: So Adria let’s start off with where you went to school?
AR: I started with a major in psychology at the local college in Minneapolis. I knew I wanted to help people and make a difference in the world. My mother had her master’s in sociology so I thought I’d follow that path.

I took computer 101 but it was so basic at the time that I couldn’t understand how anyone would want to learn more about input devices, motherboards and memory. I had the opportunity to become a Windows 98 beta tester and my whole view on technology changed. My mother had signed me up for to be a beta tester because she loved coupons and deals and wasn’t going to pass up receiving a $200 software license. In order to participate in the program, the letter I received from Microsoft indicated I would need to increase the hard drive space and speed of the CD-rom in the old hand-me-down NCR computer I had. I immediately went to work figuring out how I would get this done and picked up my first computer book, “Upgrading and Repairing PC’s” the 8th Edition by Que. Not only did it help me make the necessary upgrades to my computer, it also helped me land my first real tech job at Geekquad! Back then, Geeksquad would give you a written test and one of the questions was, “What does ‘fdisk /mbr do?” and I was able to explain that it formatted the master boot record to wipe out viruses and other unwanted programs.

I realized the world was changing and this “Internet” thing was going to be big. I wanted to become a network administrator. As I looked around the post secondary landscape, I realized I could not get the training I needed to accomplish this goal. I dropped out of school and began working on getting IT certifications and real world job experience. By 2000, I’d passed the A+ certification test and set my next certification goals on becoming an MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator). I achieved this in 2005.

LDC: How did you get into training?

AR: When you solve technology problems, a large aspect of that is making sure the problem doesn’t happen again. When working with end users, this means explaining to them how their actions (or lack of action) contributed to the problem and educating them on what to do next time. From the very beginning in my technology career, I began to receive recognition for how I dealt with people. As time went on, the compliments, notes of appreciation and feedback continued. I enjoyed helping people have that, “Ah ha!” moment with technology and as I became more experienced in network administration, website development and IT projects, I realized how much I enjoyed that facetime with customers.

My first opportunity to do in-classroom training was 2007. A friend of mine was going on vacation and had been doing a series of classes at the local St. Paul Continuing Education program. He asked me to cover his classes which included, Intro to Windows XP, Microsoft Excel and Introduction to Online Research. I researched adult education, technical training strategies and went to work creating a curriculum. Since I’d worked for several years at a market research company, I folded in surveys as a part of the outline to ensure I gathered feedback from students. I had a blast and began looking for more technical training opportunities. It wasn’t long before I spotted a position at the Minneapolis Urban League. They were looking for an A+ certification instructor to teach a 12 week course. I applied, prepared a proposal and landed the position. Again I created the curriculum, delivered it, actively engaged the students and staff for feedback, built an intranet using WordPress to share coursework and class updates.

I then moved into making screencast tutorials for clients, again with very positive feedback. Eventually, I began uploading these videos to YouTube and again, received compliments, questions and consulting inquiries.

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