Facebook's solution to the job problem: Hire teens

While Mark Zuckerberg fights to get relaxed immigration reform, his company is one of quite a few that are hiring high schoolers with tech skills.

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Catch them early, see them smile. Lidyarus/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

What used to be rock'n'roll is now full of wrinkly people who bathe in Botox.

Tech is the new rock'n'roll, the one that's filled with stars who can still remember every detail of puberty.

All hail, then, to tech companies that are proving it's never too early to find the next digital Bieber.

Facebook is one company that's openly experimenting with hiring boys (and, one hopes, girls) with braces to be its new faces.

Please brace yourself as I relay information from Bloomberg. Facebook has many problems. Its fight for more relaxed immigration laws has yet to succeed. This leaves it more difficult to hire clever people who won't leave for an even better job.

Moreover, given the law's sudden resistance to collusion in hiring practices, tech companies are succumbing to something called competition.

So high schoolers are suddenly being invited to meet Mark Zuckerberg and make their summers one never-ending hackathon.

LinkedIn and Airbnb are two of the many companies that apparently delight in hiring 16-year-old interns whom they can inspire with the excitement of perfecting, who knows, profile views and apartment listings.

Once upon a corporate time, though, interns were treated shabbily. They were shoved in a little corner, treated like gormless gophers. No longer. Bloomberg offers that these bright young things can earn $6,000 a month, as well as enjoying free company buses, a place to stay, and even massages.

If you're going to corrupt, corrupt absolutely.

Dropbox even flies the kiddies' parents into San Francisco to show them how lucrative and popular tech is here. I have no information that they are given a tour of the Haight. They're probably too young to remember all that, anyway.

California law, however, hasn't quite caught up with this -- let's find a truly tech word -- babyfication of the industry. The under-18s actually need a work permit.

Google is one company that has reportedly so far resisted babyfication. Its interns have to be at least college freshmen. How long can it be, though, before Mountain View is filled with click-clack of teen coders at 2 in the morning, set to the greatest hits of "Glee," or whatever it is teens are listening to this week?

One of the companies' aims must be to persuade these kids that college is for has-beens and never-will-bes, so why not take a permanent job after high school in the Valley playground?

Some might mutter that one reason not to do this is because working isn't quite as much fun as it appears. And it's not as if everyone succeeds either.

Moreover, Facebook and its ilk must know that some of these kids might have the notion of creating their own things. Why not massage them young, so that they don't feel such a burning entrepreneurial need?

Still, if 19-year-olds can play at the World Cup, why can't teens work in the premier league of tech?

There, is, of course, one burning incentive for parents to encourage their high-school kids to be tech interns. If they make their money more quickly, they might allow the parents to do the one things many crave: to stop working.

So mom and dad, treat your children well. For once, it just might be worth it.

 

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