The hottest job in America right now is an internship at tech corporation. Not only do these nubile nerdlingers make more than the median household income supporting entire families, but they also get unrestricted access to Silicon Valley's perk supply without even a college education.
Landing top talent is getting so tough in Silicon Valley that technology companies are trying anything for an edge — including hiring interns out of high school and boosting new recruits' perks. Facebook said it just started wooing interns before their freshman year of college, while LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD) opened its summer program to high schoolers two years ago. Startups including Airbnb Inc. have also nabbed interns as young as 16 years old.
The flip side of a hierarchy that places experience at the bottom of the pyramid is a farm system built around finding the next Mark Zuckerberg—even going so far as offering up a meeting with the Hoodied One himself. To recruit 17-year-old Michael Sayman as a summer intern, Bloomberg says Facebook flew out Sayman and his mom for face time with the CEO:
"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, who wears braces and recently graduated from high school in Miami, said in an interview. "It was just incredible to be able to meet him."
For the companies, it's all about keeping up with Silicon Valley's youth-oriented culture, especially as the young and technically inclined are sometimes encouraged to create their own startups instead of joining large organizations. Early Facebook investor Peter Thiel pays people under 20 years old $100,000 to quit school to pursue their passions. Others aspire to follow the path of Summly Ltd. founder Nick D'Aloisio, who became a millionaire at 17 last year when Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) acquired his mobile application.
It doesn't even matter if these baby coders will bring you the next billion dollar idea, just throw enough money to keep 'em on tech campus lockdown. According to self-reported salaries on Glassdoor, the average monthly pay is $7,012 for Palantir interns, $6,791 for Twitter interns, $6,230 for LinkedIn interns, and $6,213 for Facebook interns. That may even be the low end of the spectrum. A couple weeks ago, we heard there were Palantir interns roaming around Palo Alto making $10,000/month.
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