A Millennial Dives into the Mainframe World

I’m one of the millennials and I just started my career as a z/OS software engineer at Rocket Software Japan. Today, I want to share with you how I got interested in mainframe and how I feel now as a fresh Rocketeer in Japan.

Last year, I was fortunately selected as one of the APAC regional winners in the Master the Mainframe Contest 2017 (MTM2017).

Back in September 2017, I had the opportunity to join the internship program at Rocket Software Japan, and one of the Rocketeers there introduced me to this contest while we were talking over lunch. Before I started this internship program, I was hoping to expose myself to the mainframe world during the internship period, but the program was too short for me to accomplish this goal. After the internship program, my curiosity for mainframe increased and I decided to apply for the contest.

Before we go further, let me briefly introduce the contest. The contest consists of three parts. Part 1 is about learning the basics of IBM mainframe, how to start a mainframe session, and the history of mainframe – how the mainframe changed the world. Part 2 is about learning basic operations such as how to use the ISPF interface, understanding the unique encoding system, EBCDIC, and the flow of JCL operations. To proceed to Part 3, you have to earn full marks in quizzes. The final part is the most difficult stage – trying challenges! After learning the basic syntax and how to code in programming languages, such as REXX, Java, C++, and the assembly language, on USS (Unix System on z/OS), and studying how to manage data sets on z/OS, you are required to enhance a program written in SQL and COBOL by using DCLGEN. The contest staff checks each participant’s programs and rates their quality.

This contest has no application qualifications; however, I wasn’t sure if I was able to complete all the challenges because the only experience I had at the time was Python. However, as I read the instructions and accomplished each challenge, I realized that I was gradually getting into what z/OS engineers were doing every day.

Until then, to be honest, I did not have any confidence in my aptitude for mainframe software engineering even though I had been offered a position in Rocket Software Japan. However, after becoming a winner in this contest, all my concerns went away. This title was enough for me to build up my confidence. The contest was indeed the trigger for me to decide to dive into the mainframe world and to build my career as a mainframe software engineer. In addition, the contest taught me how important low-level programming languages in the mainframe world are and how well they are designed to secure critical data.

The mainframe industry requires engineers with deep knowledge and skills, and this industry is desperately in need of young engineers. The contest that I participated gives young potential engineers a great opportunity to learn and get familiar with the mainframe and is definitely one of the solutions to acute shortage of young engineers in the mainframe industry. In the near future, the millennials should bring their modern ideas to make z/OS easier to use and develop. Me? Yes! I want to be a part of this big plan and contribute to Rocket Software in many ways.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to all the members in Rocket Software. They gave me an invaluable opportunity to challenge myself in the mainframe world and welcomed me with warm friendship. “The end is just a beginning.” For me, the contest was a turning point to start my new career in the mainframe world.

 

 

Web links:

 

Master the Mainframe 2017 (all problems):

http://mtm2017.mybluemix.net/index.html

 

Official websites by Angelhack:

https://masterthemainframe.com

 

The official announce of MTM 2017 in the official blog of IBM Z:

https://www.ibm.com/blogs/think/2018/03/mastering-the-mainframe/