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GirlGeek of the Week
September 1999

MJ FishkindMJ Fishkind

Back in 1989, I was in the US Air Force. I was writing proprietary military code for computers in the base hospital. I thought to myself, this is really cool. For the first time in my life, I felt in control! Later, I moved on to a chemical leasing plant as a clerk. On day one my boss rolled in a typewriter. I said, "Where's the computer? The military is backwards, but even they have computers." He looked annoyed and replied, "We don't have one."

I did all my work on the typewriter. After the first week, I wanted to toss the typewriter out the window! I hated it because I knew there was a better way. I was determined to find a proactive solution and not become a slave to this antiquated equipment. Off hours, armed with a Tandy PC, I taught myself everything about computers--what's inside, what makes them tick, why it functions the way it does, everything. I devoured every computer manual I could get my hands on.

Databases became my favorite. For the next three months, I studied databases and created a relational database (an advanced type of database) at home, that our company could use to replace the repetitive tasks I was doing with the typewriter. When the database was ready, I brought my computer to work and gave my boss a demonstration of what this could do for us. Needless to say, he was amazed!

On the spot, he authorized the purchase of a PC. By the end of the day, I had a 386 33/MHZ with a 120 MB hard drive and Windows 3.1 sitting on my desk. I was moving up ...

For the next six months, I tweaked and improved that database, taught a user training program for the other employees and set up four computers on a local area network. And less than a year later I was promoted to upper management-the first woman in the company to scale these heights. And that was just the beginning ...

When did you first discover your love and/or obsession with computers and technology?

In 1989, my husband and I made our first "serious" investment to purchase a $2500 Tandy personal computer. It had a 20 MB hard drive, 640 KB RAM, ran on DeskMate 3.0 (Radio Shack's attempt at a graphical user interface during pre-Windows era.). That investment helped me realize my future in computing.

How do you earn a living?

Today I am a Technical Support Manager and Marketing Director for a local ISP in Virginia Beach.

My workday is very hectic. I'm filling two major management positions as Tech Support Manager and Marketing Director. Thankfully I've been in the ISP game long enough to know my way around.

Do you consider yourself a Geek?

Absolutely, no doubt about it. If you missed it above, databases are my favorite!

What is your favorite Website?

I'm the #1 supporter of my own Website Other favorites are:,,

What do you do when you are not working?

I surf the Internet to research marketing and web design ideas. I run and weight train. I also like to spend time with my nieces.


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