Moving from mainframe to Java

I currently work for a large retail organisation and have three years' experience of IBM Mainframe Assembler and Cobol. I have...

I currently work for a large retail organisation and have three years' experience of IBM Mainframe Assembler and Cobol. I have recently completed a degree with the Open University, which covered Object Oriented design and programming using Visual J++. I can code in Java and have done a little work for my company using J++. The problem is that there are no development opportunities here and I would like to restart my career in a more modern development environment using my Java skills. What do you suggest?

Carry out an audit of your skills
The first step when making any career move is to undertake an audit of your skills - both technical and non-technical. Try to view your experience as a potential recruiter would by identifying your significant achievements and the skills that are transferable to a new environment. You also need to consider your own needs including attitude to change and career risk - could you see yourself in a much smaller organisation, for example?

Demand for mainframe skills is falling and, while pay may be fine in the near future, the market will dwindle in the longer term. Depending on how grounded in retail your experience is, you could consider a move within the sector or to another large user company. There are many retailers with Internet businesses that could provide opportunities for you to use your Web development skills. Bear in mind, though, that this might involve starting at a lower level.

Another growth area is that of outsourcing. Your knowledge of the retail sector could be attractive to an organisation with a related client base, but the expectation would be that you would move on to new projects and new technologies.

You have made a substantial investment in the future with your degree. That now needs to be matched with the career management skills that demonstrate to any future employer that you have a focused yet flexible approach to your professional future.

  • Solution by Jane Standley, E-Skills NTO


  • The panel: MSB International, Best International Group, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, E-Skills NTO, Monarch Recruitment, Reed Computing, Netheads Consulting
This was last published in October 2001

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