There are remarkable opportunities for savvy techs to work on systems that have gone out of fashion. The average age of a tech who works in the IBM mainframe market is between 55 and 60, yet 10,000 mainframes are being used in as many as 5,000 companies.
This is a pretty serious problem at IBM's Armonk, N.Y., facility, where the chips and servers are manufactured. The company has aggressively set to make the mainframe sexy again. Among other things, Big Blue is offering a discounted training program ($350) which, no matter how you poke it, is a great deal.
Consider that a five-day security or Windows 7 Deployment class in New York now goes for $3,200. IBM's offering three months of unlimited access to 55 comprehensive System Z courses through its e-learning portal. The objective: to Keep legacy systems running so the company can fend off HP and Dell in the world of networks and Web applications.Even if you don't support one of these systems, the training can create a nice bullet on your resume. When you're in your mid-20s and sit across from a hiring manager who cut his teeth on mainframes, and you can share some command line war stories. You may get a much better chance than the applicant who only knows his way around a mouse.
-- Dino Londis