When you first graduate from college, you probably think the mainframe is where you write batch programs in COBOL. Not too exciting, right? Who would sign up for that? Much more interesting to work on modern platforms and do cool things, like write web and mobile apps.

But where do you think mobile apps are written by the major employers? You’re not writing them on your tablet or phone. They’re written on production platforms, often even mainframes. And while there might be 1,000 people vying for a job writing apps on Linux, how many do you think have figured out the potential for doing it on the mainframe?

Companies who could once get by with running mainframe applications only accessible by employees with dumb terminals, know they must not only have web versions, but apps as well. A young customer isn’t going to call a company: When he/she gets to the point where that is necessary, it probably means the end of the relationship. Companies know this and realize they can’t afford to lose all that business. This means that even the most hide-bound, traditional company, is looking to provide customers the access of their choice to their business applications. And another value point is enabling employees to work from anywhere on their own devices. When an engineer is in an oil field, or an insurance salesman is in a customer’s home, it just makes sense for them to have an app allowing them to enter data, make calculations and show results. 

Many companies have capacity on the mainframe, and the existing applications run there, so it makes sense to develop web and mobile applications there too.

But who’s going to write these apps?  Probably not your traditional COBOL programmer, though he might be willing to learn HTML5, CSS3 and more. The best developer of apps is the person who uses them every day and knows what makes an app good, and what makes it suck. And, that could be you. Everyone is looking for that niche career opportunity where you aren’t competing with a huge pool of applicants. This could be that niche.

Even when companies have a great solution that allows developers to create mainframe web applications and apps from existing OLTP programs without knowing any new technology—and yes, these solutions do exist—the knowledge of what makes an app great is still going to be in high demand. And, that could be you.  It’s easy to overlook a platform you’ve written off because it's old-school: But don’t. This could be the job opportunity of a lifetime.