It’s spring and in college towns across the country that means one thing: it’s graduation season. A time for family, celebration, and tons of pictures. This is perhaps truer in no place more so than Boston, a town with 250,000 college students.

But walk into any bar or coffee shop around Tufts, BU, or any of the 35 colleges in the Boston area and you’re not likely to see a lot of students celebrating…yet. Why? Because many of them still have one BIG item left to check off their college bucket lists and that is finding a job.

This year, across the US a record 1.8 million students will graduate from college. Another record, 59% of these…or roughly a million students…will graduate with an average of $26,00 in student debt and 100% of those, regard of their situation will enter an uncertain and difficult job market.

If you are one of the Class of 2015 lucky enough to land a job in a big city like New York, Boston, or LA, you can expect to make on average $45,000.

Now between rent, taxes, food, a metro pass, and that New York wardrobe you need to buy, how long do you think it will take you to pay off that $26,000 in debt? 5 years? 10?

According to US News and World Report, it takes the average student 21 years to fully pay off their student debt.

Given that this is a “mainframe” blog you’re probably asking yourself what any of this has to do with mainframes?

The Answer:  What if I told you that just by squeezing in a double major or minor focused on mainframe skills you could pay off all of your student debt in 1 year and still have enough left over to buy yourself a brand new Corvette.

corvette photo

According to job search site Indeed, starting salaries for “mainframe developers” average $113,000, which is more than double the average salary for “electrical engineering” and more than three times what someone studying psychology can expect to make.

mainframe salary chart

Too good to be true? No, in fact it gets even better.

indeed job results

Right now, across the country there are over 1700 open mainframe positions at some of the world’s biggest and most respected companies. And no, they are not in the middle of nowhere; they are in many of the hottest markets in the country, like New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

Just take a look at the logos below. I bet this list will make any of your friends in the engineering college or business school blush. All of these companies have mainframe opens TODAY and with the right skills, these companies could be begging you to work for them.

logos

So if you’re like me, you’re probably asking yourself two questions: #1. Where do they even teach mainframe skills anymore? and #2. How do I apply?

For those looking at programs, there are a number of universities that are leading the way when it comes to mainframe education. Three that come to mind are NC A&T University in Winston-Salem, NC, Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY and the iSchool at Syracuse University.

mainframe colleges

For those already in-school and of those just looking to pick up a second major or some capabilities on the side, there are a variety of great resources available online and likely a few courses at your school you could enroll in to gain the necessary skills.

Free Online Courses:

Online Contests:

Online Communities:

If you already have some mainframe skills and are ready to enter the mainframe market, or if you are a current student looking for an internship to gain experience, here are a few places where you can start your search:

Online Job Boards:

For 50 years, the mainframe has been the backbone of corporate IT and for anyone worried about job security, you need look no further than IBM’s latest quarterly release to be reminded that the mainframe remains and will continue to remain the hidden giant in IT for years to come.

“The mainframe business remains critical to IBM….when mainframe-related software, storage, services and financing are included, the overall business represents an estimated 24 percent of corporate revenue and 37 percent of operating profits.”

– The New York Times, April 20, 2015

Think about it.