Rob Hood, 33, spent several years working for Kinko's, where he helped customers design business proposals in which millions of dollars were at stake. These days, he helps sixth-graders copy and bind storybooks about their camping trips - and he couldn't be happier.
"It sounds corny, but this is more spiritual than what I did before," says Hood, publications and technology consultant to Kinko's for Kids. "Some of the kids I see are very intelligent, but for one reason or another, they're just not turned on by school. I introduce them to new tools that might get them more excited. I see myself as a mentor."
Hood also works with digital network assistants - DNAs, in New Albany parlance. DNAs are student volunteers who maintain the school's computers, who advise teachers and fellow students, and who offer feedback on software that the school is considering for purchase. This summer, seven DNAs were given equipment to build 30 computers for the school.
In the old days, students preparing class presentations would rush out to purchase poster boards and markers. Now their first instinct is to create a multimedia presentation in PowerPoint, complete with digital art and sound effects.
"When I was at Kinko's, I did a proposal for someone that involved a $10 million deal," Hood says. "In less than four months here, I had sixth-graders producing work that looked better than that proposal."
A version of this article appeared in the September 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.