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Starting Your Enterprise Computing Journey


Interested in knowing more about IT's Best Kept Secret? Many of the world's leading businesses are using mainframes, yet it is not something usually known to students. This is a remarkable technology that can process billions of transactions per day, and many of the world's corporate data resides within. 

So, how do I get started?

That is the big question. Luckily for us, IBM have a no-cost learning platform called IBM Z Xplore. It includes access to a real z/OS system running on a z16, the latest and greatest IBM Z machine to date! At the learning platform, you will learn more about z/OS, programming languages used on the platform, subsystems that many mainframe companies are using, along with some tools and utilities that system programmers uses to manage the system.

Once you got the hang of it, there are many other free resources that is available for you to try. Check out this list that I have compiled over the past years with all the available free courses for you to deepen your knowledge. Many of the courses will provide you with a digital badge as a proof that you have completed the course.

Oh, and don't forget, if you are a student, check out the IBM SkillsBuild for College Students for exclusive access to IBM softwares and courses.

Common Roles in the Industry

There are many possible roles that is highly sought after in the industry, each with their own responsibilities. Here are some common ones that you may encounter when looking for jobs:

  • Application Developers - These people are the brain behind the company's business application. They would know how the application functions, and is responsible in ensuring that the application performs as designed.
  • Database Administrators - A DBA is responsible in the functioning of the database system. They should be able to manage the entire lifecycle of the database systems. Some common one includes Db2, IMS DB, and MongoDB.
  • System Programmer - A sysprog is responsible in ensuring that the system they maintained is updated, and that all part of it is working well! There are a lot of parts mixed in the equation, as such, there are often multiple people or multiple team handling their own respective area. This would include network, storage, operating system, hardware, subsystems (e.g. MQ, CICS, IMS).
  • Security Administrators - With big power came big responsibility, a security admin would have the authority to modify security settings, define users, allow users access to data and resources. If an attacker manage to have access to their ID, they can do (almost) anything.
  • Auditors - They are responsible in ensuring that all IT processes in a company is followed correctly, and that no one misuses their privileges. They need to be able to monitor measures to protect and report on the company's data and systems.
  • Penetration Testers - A system is only secure when it is properly configured. A penetration tester would perform simulated attacks on the system to evaluate its security. Yes, a mainframe can be breached, which is why it is important for the system programmers and security administrators to configure the system properly.

Standing Out on Job Applications

Getting your first job as a fresh graduate can be a daunting task, especially with the current economic situations. Here are a couple of tips that could help you to stand out among other applicants:

  • Proudly display your badge on your resume! This will shows your potential employers that you have basic working knowledge of enterprise computing.
  • Showcase what you have learned! Try out the IBM Z Xplore Student Contest, which will challenge you to use your skills (and ability to troubleshoot) to solve the given problems.
  • Network with industry experts at LinkedIn, IBM Community, User Groups and Social Media. 
  • Participate in events on your area (or online)! This would be a good way to network with professionals and learn more about the latest update. In particular, check out SHARE, they normally have events every year that is free for students to attend.
  • Share what you have learned, develop your personal brand and make yourself known in the industry. This would be a good way to expand your network too!
  • Don't be afraid to apply! If you see a job opening that looks tough to get, don't be afraid to apply. With a good resume, you can catch the eye of hiring managers.

Still have questions? Feel free to ask on the Discussion Forum and share your thoughts there.