COBOL-er Needs Help!

So, today I’m fast approaching my sixth year without work. Why? You ask.
I was 57 years old when JPMorgan decided that I need to retire, and since they were diversifying the IT department by replacing every single American programmer with an Indian visa holder, I was one of the few holdouts left in my silo. Don’t ask me how an Indian in every single cubicle as far as the eye can see, adds to diversity in the workplace, but then again, there are a lot of things in life for which there is no explanation.

After 30 tears of mainframe COBOL/CICS/DB2-SQL programming, and five years of trying to teach myself OOP, and how to code in this world of disparate logic, and never ending stream of new and more confusing methodologies, I came across a video on YouTube, this one presented by Mike Bauer. But I was having trouble with that convoluted mess of links and little inclination of how any of it works (github).

So, I went to freeCodeCamp looking for this, or some similar course, thinking that the website would provide some insight into how to do the labs, or perhaps some insight at all. I did a search and found yet another course presented by Beau Carnes.

Guys, I an introductory course is nice, but will I really benefit from it? Even if I do decide to go through the course; in five year’s time, I’ve yet to run across any course that actually provides cohesive concise informative content that can actually be turned into some form of productive knowledge with which to make even a nickel. Most of it is so verbose and boring to listen to, that it becomes easy to get lost in the weeds.

I’m asking for some help here. I want to apply my experiences of thirty years with COBOL application coding, to code in COBOL once again, a refresher course, a new platform; even if I earn no where near what I earned before, a little is better than zero. I need to get back to work!!
I only ask that if you don’t have actionable advice/insight (meaning no wise cracks, no one liners, and no me-too stories), then please say it out loud.


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Since no one has answered, I’ll give a go…

Guys, I an introductory course is nice, but will I really benefit from it?

Right, but FCC doesn’t teach COBOL. Yes, there are a few videos on various topics that have been made by various members, but the core of what is taught is web development, specifically with the MERN stack. There is now some Python too. But COBOL is not part of what is taught here. People are welcome to discuss it in the forum, but I don’t know if this is the best place to get the answer you want.

I’m a little surprised that with 30 years professional experience that you are having difficulty finding a job doing COBOL. Heck, I’ve know people that only do SQL.

As far as a “refresher course”, I see that when I google “advanced cobol”, some books come up. But if you find them “verbose and boring”, then I don’t know what to say. Yes, a lot of the docs I have to read are verbose and boring - but it’s my job.

Can you build projects locally? It would be a great refresher.

Have you looked for COBOL forums? You might be able to get some advice that is more on point?

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Going specifically to the COBOL question.
As @kevinSmith said, according to what you have described, you have very good experience.
Have you trying teaching? With your experience you could teach in bootcamps or other alternative education platforms.
If you have a Graduate degree, then, better. You can even do it with a strong OOP, and SQL.
If you make an effort and learn some languages like Python, Java, or Scala. Then the results are expected to be better.
Also, be flexible, do not get caught by your ego or your old habits. You have experience with a very famous company, also financial services have many alternative paths.
In Economics academic jargon there is a concept called “Hysteresis of Unemployment”. You could end loosing the transferable skills you gained in that 30 years, because of an obsession with COBOL.
Post Data: IBM has many resources, and even a free training in COBOL, just search for it.
Hope this helps.

Thank you Kevin and Andy.

I guess I’m a little confused as to what your goal is.

Are you hoping to find work as a COBOL developer? My understanding is that there aren’t new projects being started in COBOL but that it’s deeply entrenched in some industries (airlines and banks iirc). So while there aren’t many jobs, there also aren’t many people who can fill those jobs. As someone who worked in the language for a long time, I imagine that you can refresh your language skills and/or catch up on any modernization relatively painlessly. Like jobs, resources will be limited because it isn’t a language that is attracting new developers.

If your goal is to make a transition to a more modern field of programming, then the field opens dramatically. If you already know what you’re interested in, then some people here might have some recommended resources. If you’re just feeling sort of overwhelmed and adrift, then my suggestion would be to jump on web programming. This has come a long way in a short time and a huge amount of the technology that we interact with has JavaScript hidden under the hood. I got the sense that you were frustrated with introduction courses that taught syntax without context. is a curriculum that is structured around building actual projects at every level. The syntax lessons are progressive, so you may find yourself able to skip some of them, depending on your experience. If you’ve already done other web programming courses, you could even go straight to the projects and put your skills to a real-world test.

This community is an extremely supportive group made up mostly of fellow learners. Please feel free to create a topic any time you have a question - whether it’s about technical minutia or personal experience. If people feel like they understand your question and are able to give a valuable answer, you’ll find that they always do so in good faith.


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