A bidding war for teen tech interns? Talent war is officially nuts


The efforts to lure college interns to tech startups were one thing, but well-paying tech internships are now going to coders from high school—or even pre-high school.

Yes, the competition for tech talent has hit a bizarre new level.

According to a Bloomberg report, the phenomenon of technically adept teenagers getting big bucks and other perks for summer internships is on the rise: Facebook, for instance, recently began recruiting high school-aged interns, and the wooing has sometimes involved having Mark Zuckerberg himself meet prospective interns. LinkedIn has been hiring high schoolers for two years, Airbnb has brought on at least one 16-year-old intern, and Oregon’s Planet Argon recently hired an intern who hadn’t yet started high school, according to the article.

As for the pay:

It’s become standard for engineering interns to snag free housing, transportation and salaries of more than $6,000 a month, according to job-search site Glassdoor Inc. That compares with the $4,280 average monthly income for U.S. households in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of the top 10 companies paying the most for interns, all are technology companies except for Exxon Mobil Corp., Glassdoor said in February.

One of the best quotes in the piece comes from a former intern of Hadapt, the Cambridge database technology startup:

“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,” said Daniel Tahara, 21, who interned at big data startup Hadapt Inc. last summer and mobile-security startup Lookout Inc. the year before. Tahara, who declined to say how much he was paid, started a job with online storage startup Dropbox Inc. this month.

“Kind of insane” is definitely one way to put it. I have nothing against teenagers getting paid—even paid well—to do something they’re good at for a summer and gain job experience. But I still come back to what this says about the competition for talent in today’s tech industry — if it wasn’t already out of control before this, it certainly is now.

Image of a young man with dollars raining down via Shutterstock.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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