Rewarding Partnerships and Careers Evolve From IBM’s Master the Mainframe Contest

Illustration by Miriam Migliazzi & Mart Kle

Never Give Up

Companies hiring these students gain employees who have mainframe knowledge and the drive to problem-solve and persevere until the answer is uncovered. “Our customers do hire these students directly from this contest because the students are self-motivated and have an enterprise computing mindset,” Resnik says.

The students say it’s important to keep trying and to not give up. Perseverance is the key to completing the tasks, notes Kadam. In working on part three, she would attempt to complete a task and after trying 30, 40, 50 times, she’d simply step away until the next day. “The next morning I would try again and I’d discover a solution that would work,” she explains.

Harris concurs. “There were many times when I felt I could not go on during the contest because something was difficult for me,” he says. “But I just kept pushing myself and working towards solving whatever problem it was that I was facing, and surely enough I defeated the obstacle.”

“The contest made me work outside of my comfort zone and that was good for me.”
—Mugdha Kadam

Cherivirala emphasizes that the challenge is rewarding in itself. “IBM’s Enterprise Systems contests are designed for both the experienced and the beginner alike; there is no good reason to not give it a try and see what you can learn,” he says.

If possible, seek out the help of a teacher or another student, advises Qualmann. “Even if you’re lost in the mainframe, fellow students can help get you back on track and boost your confidence,” he counsels.

Just try to do part one to see what the mainframe is all about, suggests Sheridan, adding “maybe you’ll find out that you like it if you give it a chance.”

Building a Smarter World

Gen Z is eager to lend a hand to others and to create a better, smarter world. That goes hand in hand with IBM’s Smarter Planet* initiative. “I anticipate that Gen Z will be the visionaries, thought leaders, architects and solution providers to use the zEnterprise* System in Smarter Planet solutions,” Resnik explains. “I think we’re just starting to scratch the surface of the potential for using System z in smarter planet solutions.”

To encourage more students at the high-school level to investigate the mainframe, AI is offering one-hour modules this year incorporating mainframe tasks. IBM offers mainframe access to the schools at no charge. “The educator simply has to request the services from,” says Resnik.

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at

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