July 9, 2014
High School Students Being Recruited By Silicon Valley Firms
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has come under heat in recent years for scouting players at the high school level and as a result the league has imposed age rules on drafting players. Now Silicon Valley tech giants are the ones that are eyeing a very different type of high school talent.
On Tuesday Bloomberg reported that Facebook is just one of several tech companies rolling out the red carpet in an effort to recruit summer interns. Bloomberg's Sarah Frier reported that Facebook flew out 17-year-old Michael Sayman, along with his mother, to meet CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg as an effort to woo the recent high school grad for the summer.
"When I got the e-mail saying – oh my god – Mark Zuckerberg wants to meet you, I had to make sure nobody was playing a prank on me," Sayman said in an interview with Bloomberg. "It was just incredible to be able to meet him."
Why would these technology companies desire such young interns?
In many ways it is that these companies were founded by young programmers and the companies are now keen to hire the next generation of talent. The British newspaper The Telegraph reported that Sayman's photographic guessing game 4Snaps caught the attention of Facebook, so why not hire the talent behind the app now rather than spending millions or even billions in a few years to acquire it?
In Silicon Valley's youth-oriented culture it is all too common for the technically inclined to create their own startups instead of joining large organizations.
PayPal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has been a driving force in encouraging tech savvy youth to quit school. He has paid some people under 20 years of age up to $100,000 to quit college and instead pursue their passions – pointing to the fact that Facebook's Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates both dropped out of Harvard to pursue their dreams.
Spending the summer at a tech company can have many perks. For one the pay is a lot better than most summer jobs and The Telegraph reported that, according to company review site Glassdoor, the top 10 companies for intern pay are all tech firms, save ExxonMobil.
Instead of unpaid internships – which many industries still offer – the tech companies reportedly pay as high as $6,000 a month. Monthly household income in the US for 2012, according to the US Census Bureau, was $4,280.
"It's kind of insane that as a 19- or 20-year-old, you can make more than the U.S. average income in a summer," 21-year old Daniel Tahara, who interned at big data startup Hadapt Inc. last summer and mobile-security startup Lookout Inc. the year before, told Bloomberg.
In addition to the pay the interns are reportedly provided with free housing, transportation and of course the potential for a job after college or even instead of college in many cases.
However, not every tech company is scouting the high school yearbooks. Google currently requires that interns be at least college freshman and even encourages its interns to finish their degrees.
Some companies are going younger still, with one Oregon startup reporting having a junior high school intern.
"The worry, of course, is that younger and younger interns making large amounts of money in an adult environment is a recipe for danger. History is littered with examples of this dangerous combination, and Justin Bieber is just the latest, loudest representative," wrote Engadget's Ben Gilbert. "All in all, it doesn't exactly sound like child labor, though it does sound like a concept with the potential for real danger. Here's hoping we're wrong."
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