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Revealing IT’s Best-Kept Secret to Students

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:40 PM

In May 2015 I authored a blog  “It’s all about “z” Community” in which I also made available a presentation I have used since 2010 to enlighten students to the existence and importance of IBM’s mainframe computing platform. Two weeks ago I dusted off the presentation which IBM helped me to update and modernize and presented it to a Computer Science AP class at McNeil High School in Round Rock, Texas.

I figured it was about time I re-offer the updated presentation to our Destination z members, and summarize it here for you so that if you are inclined to take it to your local high school or college to evangelize, you will be prepared.

Briefly, the presentation covers the following:

•    Why a high school (or college) student should be interested in careers on mainframes
•    What differentiates a z Systems from other platforms—size matters
•    Who uses mainframe computers/why they are important to businesses
•    What is creating future employment opportunities on mainframes
•    What can students do to prepare for careers in IT and mainframes

I always like to ask anecdotal questions such as: Does anybody know what a mainframe computer is? Or, when is the last time you or your parents interfaced with a mainframe computer? The answers may surprise you.

If you’re a interested in influencing young people to look to z Systems careers, I invite you to take this presentation out to your local high schools and let them know about a career path they probably have no clue exists, and open their minds to employment opportunities they haven’t even dreamed about!

According to surveys, including one from Destination z’s partner IBM Systems magazine, IBM Z, companies are predicting that they will lose up to 26 percent of their mainframe workforce over the next 5 years. Of course, that means either new skills be brought on board quickly, or the company may have to migrate off the mainframe, which studies have shown to be time consuming and risky, expensive. Which brings me to my final question that I ask students during the presentation: How many years does it take to gain 20 years’ experience? Care to guess?

Once again, you can reach out to me if you would like me to walk through the pitch with you. Find the slides for the presentation "IT's Best-Kept Secret" and feel free to email me at for more information.

I will be attending the VM Workshop this month, if you will be in attendance look for me and I will be happy to walk you through the pitch.

Marc I. Smith is an Educational Programs Consultant with ProTech Training. He spent 28 of 33 years at IBM as a member of the mainframe z Systems community. He began his mainframe career working with VM/HPO and VM/ESA development before moving on to planning and managing VM Early Support Programs (ESPs), marketing z/VSE and z/VM until moving into marketing and channel enablement positions within the System z (now z Systems) hardware family. He is one of the team members who brought Destination z into existence and managed the online community until his retirement from IBM in 2012.