Focus on Careers and Certification

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Remember when you got your first job working with computers? No matter how you arrived at the starting gate—through technical training, with a college diploma, or merely by pulling on the bootstraps of your own initiative—the moment you received that first paycheck, the race began: You heard the sound of the gun and entered the personal career marathon in the field of information technology. Since then, it’s been quite a race indeed. You’re judging the field as you run, gauging the lay of the land and developing strategies. No doubt you’re asking questions every step of the way. “What comes next?” “Why is he ahead of me?” “What should I be watching for?” Sometimes, you are guided by the hardware hype from vendors such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, or Sun. Other times, you are buffeted by the software hype, running with or against the shifting winds of programming technologies: COBOL, RPG, C++, Java, Visual Basic, and many others. Most times, however, you’re just running as hard as you can on a track paved and paid for by the company that signs your paycheck.

Your employer has entered a similar contest. From the moment the company purchased its first computer, it has been running a footrace of information strategies against its competitors. But this is a different race, one by which the company builds the track itself and provisions its handpicked entrants with tools and equipment and opportunities for training. However, while you have been building your career credentials, your employer has been building its bottom line. Ultimately, your success will be tied to your company’s, and the success of your company’s information strategy will ultimately be tied to your personal ability to run the course.

Yes, getting ahead in the field of information technology has always been a race. But how do you win? How can your company win? In these times of hot employment markets and tight resources, what are the strategies that will bring home the gold?

This issue of Midrange Computing goes down to the field to survey the course. We listen to one professional who is running with the aid of AS/400 certification. We talk to a recruiter who tells us how certification may impact the future of IT employment and how managers can use it to build a better company racetrack. We look at salary surveys to spot where the going gets tough and where it’s the most rewarding. We analyze the cost of available training programs to help your employer put you in the best programs that IBM and others have built. Finally, we look at IBM’s Partners in Education, a unique program within IBM’s AS/400 University that will allow your company or your user group to

partner with the community and bring the AS/400 into your local educational institutions. What you’ll find in the pages of this Focus section is a synopsis of the real race—your race—as you build your career and fortify the strategies of your organization.

So what should you do with these pages? Read them! We know that the desire to enhance your career is one of the most important assets you bring to your job each day. Pass these pages along to your supervisors. In this time of full employment and tight resources, they know that building careers and mentoring employees is the most productive way to further the company’s strategic goals. Finally, use these pages to help you plan your moves. We believe that the more you know about the opportunities for furthering your career in information technology, the more your professional potential will grow.