Michael Le: Did you enter the workforce into computers or did you start your own business?
ELQ: As a small child, I wanted to have a business. That may have had something to do with my grandparents owning a trading post and in my hometown Yankton, South Dakota near Lewis & Clark Lake.
In college, I started various odd jobs. I was translating my language of Lakota, which is my first language, into English and sharing it with fellow students. That ended up becoming an entire website and software down the road. I was also building websites. My first computer job was actually paid under the table. While I was there, I was helping in the back fix computers.
Then, I tried to get a position with another computer company called Brownwood Computer Innovations. The (owner, Pat) really wanted me to come work for them, but they said, “You need to get your Microsoft certification.”
I looked at the cost and knew that I couldn’t afford that. And because I couldn't afford it, I couldn't get a better-paying computer job. So, I kept pouring my time and my efforts into my own business.
ML: Do you ever wonder if your path would’ve been different had you been able to join that company?
ELQ: A couple of years later, I did end up working in tech support and as a computer operator — the graveyard shift at a hospital. They offered me a sysadmin position. I was getting married at that time, so I ended up moving cities.
But if we hadn't moved, I'd probably still be working at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio. That was a really good position. At that time, no one was insisting that I needed to have computer Microsoft certifications, C++, or any of the certifications that other places wanted. You couldn’t work anywhere unless you had those, but that really restricted people who didn't have money to pay for them.