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Role models: Cultivate skills for IBM Z

Working with the IBM Z Academic Initiative program, we hear similar questions each day. Are young folks interested in this technology? Are schools teaching the mainframe? How have other companies addressed their retiring workforce? A large percent of my team is retirement eligible, can you help? Sound familiar? If so, you are in the right place! We worked with some amazing clients and students to help them share their story with you.

What are other clients doing?

We asked Eric King, one of the hiring managers we work with, to share his experience and some of his lessons learned in on-boarding talent for IBM Z, and what he looks for in college graduates.


We have taken many of Eric’s tips and tricks and the resources he mentions –- plus some others we’ve learned along the way — to create an Employer’s Reference Guide. For a much more in-depth overview of these various resources, Christy Schroeder, whom you just saw in the previous video, walks through these in her own video. Here, she talks about ways to attract, train, and retain talent as well as the various opportunities available to strengthen mainframe skills.


Are you sure Eric hasn’t just found a herd of unicorns?

While we can give you facts and figures to show you that this next generation of mainframe talent exists, it’s so much better to let you hear directly from them. While they are awesome and special, they are not unicorns! Let’s meet a few…

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Tyler Crane, DB2 Systems programmer for Bank of America, describes the many career options within the IBM Z mainframe space. Luisa Martinez, with IBM’s z/OS UNIX System Services Development team, describes why she wanted to learn something new and get out of her comfort zone by working on the mainframe. Derek Powe is a senior staff specialist from M&T Bank. His passion is to learn as much as he possibly can about mainframes, from software to hardware.

These are just a sampling of the great New Faces of Z see more here.

So there really are students interested in mainframes?

There are over 3,000 schools in over 120 countries that expose their students to mainframe technologies … well, 3,000 that we know of. From high schools to community and technical colleges to universities and code schools, students are learning about the mainframe. Take a look at our comprehensive list of schools that are currently incorporating mainframe into their curriculum, and reach out directly to the professors teaching these skills and utilizing the Master the Mainframe contest in the classroom.

Hear for yourself as a few students share their perspective and learning experience with the platform.

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Murilo Andrade is a top 3 winner of the 2017 Master the Mainframe contest. Hear how this contest has impacted his life and his future with the mainframe. Stephanie Reaves is in her final year at North Carolina A&T State University. Hear how she got started learning mainframes and how it changed her career path. Diego Matos is a top winner from Brazil in the 2017 Master the Mainframe contest. Hear how this contest has impacted his life and his future with the mainframe.

Of course, we are always looking to reach more students and more schools, which is why we would like to ask for your help in spreading the word about Master the Mainframe. Here is an Activity Kit to help you get started in your local community.

To wrap it up…

We want to close by sharing some quotes that have really stood out for us as we have listened to the numerous “New to Z” panel discussions over the past couple of years, such as this one. When talking about recruiting, one early-tenure mainframer said, “It’s not what they don’t know, it’s what they can learn.” When asked about why mainframes: “Many young professionals want a career where they can make a difference. The mainframe is a perfect fit because it’s the backbone to mission-critical IT,” and “I wanted to learn something new every day.” This is one platform that enables you to work on networking, analytics, databases, deep programming languages, APIs — a full 360 degrees of IT — and that is pretty exciting. But don’t take our word for it … take theirs!

Find out more on our IBM Z Skills Site.