It was a question on a social media site: “I’m in IT and have an opportunity to learn about the mainframe, should I take it?”
Let me say right now that I’ve worked with the mainframe platform for 40 years, so you might question my objectivity. But my immediate thought when I saw that question was, why not?
Why limit yourself when you can expand your horizon of knowledge into other areas?
Imagine, if you will, you’re sitting in a room full of colleagues and your manager walks in with a question. Because you have expanded your horizon, you are the only one with the answer, which initiates a dialog between you and your manager, and some additional questions are left open. Your manager assigns you to lead an effort to gather more information and report back.
By not limiting your horizon of knowledge you have put yourself in a position to stand out and advance your career.
Another example could be drawn from martial arts. As a beginner you study one form of martial arts and as you become more proficient you expand into other forms to perfect your technique. As you spend time in each form, proficiency transforms into expertise which evolves into style because you combine elements of each form in your own way.
Let’s flip the coin over and look at this from the other side. Let’s say you did not take the opportunity to learn about the mainframe and your career has taken you on a management track where now you are one of several candidates for a C-level position. One requirement for the job is mainframe experience. You may have excelled in other areas and become an expert, but not expanding into the mainframe realm has now inhibited your potential career growth.
So let me ask the question again: Why limit yourself?
Why limit yourself within the broad horizon of choices that an IT career offers? There are so many aspects of this profession with a horizon that is ever expanding.
When I look back to the 1980’s and recall we thought we had a lot of choices back then. It does not compare to the choices that are available today.
After all, cell phones didn’t exist in the early 80’s, the video game industry was in its infancy, the internet hadn’t been invented, and TV screens were convex and operated with a large cathode ray tube. They weren’t even close to smart; they were pretty dumb, in fact behind the screen and they were not smart either.
So a lot of people chose not to pursue any of those technologies. I wonder what they’re doing now.
My message is simple: Whether you’ve been presented an opportunity to expand your career into Cloud, microservices technologies, API’s, development, cyber security, networking or, yes, mainframe technologies, take the chance.
You never know where that decision might lead you.
About the author
John Duffy Jr. is an IBM Z Solution Advisor with LRS IT Solutions. He has been involved with mainframes since 1981 in various roles from Operations, Technical Support, Consulting, and Technical Sales, and he spent 21 years working with IBM.