Facebook’s High School Intern is Changing Hiring

July 15th, 2014 | Articles, Hiring Resources | No Comments »

High School Intern

Are you losing your bid for top talent before they reach the legal age to vote? The question became all the more pressing when high school app developer Michael Sayman was recruited by Facebook for their summer internship program. Silicon Valley is already in the equivalent of an arms race, trying to acquire younger and younger talent before their competitors. Is this just a fad or the future of hiring?

Kids Getting Paid to Code

The idea itself isn’t so farfetched. Technology typically favors the young. Their life experience is limited, so they embrace outside-the-box solutions that adults tend to subconsciously rule out. Millennials and Generation Z barely know a time without digital technology, so it’s no wonder that Silicon Valley is vying for this native talent.

And the competition is building up.

LinkedIn started recruiting high schoolers two years ago for their summer internship program. Yahoo! bought Nick D’Aloisio’s news-summarizing app, Summly, and made the 17 year old a millionaire. The Thiel Fellowship offers recent high school graduates a $50,000 a year grant for two years to forgo college and pursue their breakout ideas. And these high profile examples are only the tip of the iceberg.

However, not everyone is gung ho about hiring teenagers.

An Undue Amount of Hassle

Recruiting high school age students has its draw backs. On a federal level, children cannot (with a few exceptions) work under the age of 14, but beyond that each state has its own specific child labor laws.

California requires a permit for anyone under age 18 who is still enrolled in school. Illinois requires a permit for anyone under 16. Regardless, obtaining the permit can be a hassle and deters some employers from hiring minors in the first place. That’s why companies across industries – Google, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg, etc. – wait until people are of legal age and usually have a bachelor’s degree.

The Value of Experienced Employees

The industry inclination toward younger employees misses out on some beneficial opportunities. A study shows that though innovation for scientific and mathematical minds happens at a younger age, achievement is greatest after the age of 30.

As Max Nisen, a writer for Business Insider, said, “really significant ideas – the things that change companies and the world – take a bit longer to develop. After all, Steve Jobs hit his stride when he returned to Apple in his 40s.”

So, When is the Best Age to Hire?

Ultimately, it’s best to look at candidates’ credentials and passion, regardless of age, to ensure the most qualified employee is brought on board in any organization. If you do decide to bring high school interns into your organization, you’re best off participating in a high school work/study program. In most cases, the students themselves work for credit on a part-time basis.

by James Walsh

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