How old do you have to be to work at the Silicon Valley’s top tech companies? The answer: a lot younger than you might expect. A recent Bloomberg report, published July 8th, outlined opportunities in the Silicon Valley for teenagers who have yet to graduate from high school.
The article highlighted stories of some impressive young interns that are turning their knowledge of programming, and technological skills, into profitable experiences. One intern, named Michael Sayman, began his internship at Facebook (FB) on June 9th. Sayman, a recent 17 year-old high school graduate, earned his internship by using Facebook's software to help create a mobile app called “4Snaps."
While this story may appear unique, Sayman is not alone. There are reports that one Oregon-based company, name not released, hired a 13-year-old intern! With technology becoming increasingly accessible to younger children, there is a new generation of tech savvy, talented gurus in the making. They are self-taught programmers and entrepreneurs who have the analytical tools necessary to begin their careers before college.
Competition among top Silicon Valley tech companies, to hire the best and brightest employees, has increased exponentially over the last few years. Companies focus on hiring top talent to maintain a competitive edge in the market; however, the supply of available talent is less than the current demand, as UC Berkeley and Stanford only churn out a limited number of annual new grads to the Bay Area's skilled workforce.
Internships are the most popular method for Silicon Valley startups to bring in fresh, new talent. Generally speaking, internships are temporary employment which allow both parties the opportunity to evaluate, and benefit from, one-another – eager interns obtain early exposure to the tech sector, while tech companies receive "cheap," creative labor. However, since internships are an attractive way to find new talent, they have, in their own right, become fairly lucrative. In the Bloomberg report, Glassdoor outlined a monthly pay scale for interns at companies in the Bay Area. Palantir came in on top, offering over $7,000 a month to engineering interns, while more than 15 companies pay engineering interns over $5,000 in monthly salary.
The allure of working in the Silicon Valley, in addition to financial incentives, also proves remarkably influential. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg walked away from a prestigious Harvard degree in order to pursue his dream of creating Facebook, specifically in the Bay Area. Zuckerberg’s path has immensely contributed to the “anything is possible” image of the Silicon Valley; one that now attracts younger generations.
Additionally, investors like Peter Thiel have made it more enticing for young adults to forgo college in order to pursue their ideas. Thiel has created a fund that grants young entrepreneurs, who he believes have top-tier talent, $100,000 to forgo college and, instead, begin to develop their start-ups. While it is clear that attending college and earning a degree is a proven path for success, Thiel and Zuckerberg are focused on giving young adults the necessary resources to develop the next big thing.
As the playing field changes, and national unemployment remains high, the Silicon Valley's culture remains unchanged, as tech companies are now turning to teenagers for talent; a new trend indeed.