At SHARE Academic, held recently in St. Louis, students gathered for an immersive, two-day experience of all things mainframe. From hands-on learning activities, to networking opportunities, interview practice and a panel with recently hired mainframe professionals, there was no shortage of learning and exchange of information taking place. The students were a diverse group, ranging in age and experience, including one student in eighth grade, a few in college and two adults exploring the mainframe as a career.
We took a moment to catch up with a few students between sessions, and their passion and enthusiasm for the profession is evident. With continued learning and more hands-on experience in the years to come, the students interviewed below, and others like them, will help shape the next wave of mainframe professionals.
What interests you in the mainframe and this industry in general?
Dominic Flores, Carson Middle School: I started writing Java scripts in fifth grade, and that's basically what started it all for me. I like it because it’s not too easy, but it’s not too hard. It takes some logical thinking.
Mohammed Kokan, University of Missouri-St. Louis: I want to go into information systems [my current field of study] because I really enjoy playing around with computers. Video games are one side of it, but I like seeing how things work. I’m looking at a broad range of things that I might want to have a career in. I see [the mainframe] as a possible career opportunity or direction to go in.
Jennifer Speer, University of Missouri-St. Louis: After talking to Misty Decker from IBM, it interests me that, being a woman, women are equal with men in pay. And that there's more women doing mainframe—not more than men, but it's more equally balanced in the work. The culture is different, they're more friendly, they're open and they talk more. That interests me.
Christopher Radcliffe, Villanova: I've been doing robotics for seven years now, and I really enjoy that. I like the challenge. It’s like a puzzle – one of those fun puzzles that you get to work through, and figure it out and then you get to see your work actually do something.
What would you tell your friends about this experience?
Christopher Radcliffe: There's no reason not to come. The mainframe is what controls the world. People say, “What if something ran the world?” It's literally what runs the world.
Was there anything new or surprising you learned?
Mohammed Kokan: The potential job market got my attention. The smaller pool of employable people means there would be plenty of opportunities to find work. I found [the activities today] very interesting and I have been fully engrossed the whole time I've been here so far.
Emanuel Moore, Montgomery College: What made me think was the IBM session on the z14. They started describing it, how much data it actually processes and how much of the world's transactions it handles. It's wild. It was an eye-opener.
How do you see this world fitting in with a future career?
Emanuel Moore: It definitely fits in. I’m studying business marketing, with a minor in computer science. If you're trying to sell different parts of mainframe, the more you understand, the more you can sell. That makes you invaluable and it definitely helps you down the road to know what you're talking about and what you're selling.