Entering the IBM i World
New School vs. Old School and the Job
Young i Professionals
I am new blood in the IBM i world, a newbie in the form of a retooled machine operator
whose prior experience with IBM was as a user of the AS/400 green screens and menus. In
early 2009 I lost my job, as many people had during that economic crisis. At that very point
I decided it was time to change careers to a recession-proof profession. In the fall of 2009 I
started classes at Gateway Technical College. My first inclination was to learn a trade such as
mechanical engineering, but after discussing my career path with a few recent graduates of
Gateway’s Programmer Analyst program, my mind was made up. I chose to pursue my interest
in programming and systems administration on the IBM i platform.
I graduated at the top of my class from Gateway Technical College in May of 2011 with
an Associate’s Degree in Programming/Analysis, earning additional certificates in IBM i
programming and operations, and IBM i Administration. The job interviews started right away
and opportunities came because of my grades, the Gateway program, and my instructor, Jim
Buck. At one point I was interviewing for three different jobs and was ultimately able to choose
the one I liked best. I was hired for my first IT job in June of 2011 at Delta Dental of Wisconsin.
Don’t get me wrong, Delta Dental had never hired a recent graduate and knew they were
taking a chance hiring a recent college graduate with no on the job experience.
My education, plus working hard in the IBM i program at Gateway, prepared me for the
transition from college to the workplace by giving me the tools to succeed. A semester of
introduction to the IBM i, two full semesters of RPG programming, and a semester of CL were
all included in the program at Gateway. We had access to the most up to date hardware in the
form of a new Power 6 Model 520 and of course the latest version of RDp for development. A
class titled ‘Systems Design and Analysis’, while not a specific IBM course, provided me with an
overview of business systems and what I might expect working in the IT world.
I was even fortunate enough to be able to take the IBM i Administration class that Jim Buck
offers with the assistance of IBM I professionals like Bruce Battersby. This class helped me and
my team in the execution of the final RPG group project. The class familiarizes a student on
how to administer and navigate the system. Some of the topics included Web servers, work
management, how to back up the system, do a full system restore from tape and best of all, a
full system upgrade from 6. 1 to 7. 1.
Our final RPG group project included building an online Airline reservation system. We created
a website using Valence software which runs RPG programs in the backend. We accessed
and populated the DB2 database with RPG programs we designed and wrote. What a great
introduction into the working world and what to expect on the job. The RPG project gave me
material for interviews and I believe ultimately helped secure more than one job offer.