A typical teenager is usually seen working a part-time job doing something they may or may not enjoy. This seems to be backwards, since teenagers have some of the most untapped creative talent. More companies should be working to change this.
For the last nine months, I’ve worked as an engineering apprentice at DIY. It’s been the best months of my (admittedly short) life. I’ve been able to meet a ton of great people, write code that’s being used actively around the world and, most importantly, have fun while doing it. I do this all remotely from Canada (DIY is based in San Francisco), and while juggling school work. Despite these roadblocks, it’s still an extremely rewarding experience. This has lead me to think: Why aren’t more companies encouraging this? It’s true that many teenagers are just going along for the ride as it is, and don’t especially care about doing something higher-level like this. However, if I want to do all this, there has to be more that do as well. We need more companies to facilitate this.
Most companies seem to not want to hire teenagers for more creative roles due to a lack of experience on paper. This is understandable, especially when something like this does take up time. However, I feel that if a company is willing to take this risk with the right person, it will end up not only being beneficial for the teenager, but also for the company.
For reference, I applied to DIY with three pieces of work:
- A web-based profile viewer for a Flash game I briefly worked with
- An off-site companion to another Flash game using their API
- A very simple Collatz Conjecture calculator
All of these, looking back, were comparatively amateurish. However, it was just enough to get me noticed, which is all that counts now.
So, here is my challenge to any company: If you have an optimistic teenager wanting to work with you, accept them and give them an opportunity to prosper. Don’t limit them to only the leftover tasks, instead let them use the creativity they already have and soar. I’m very proud to work at a company that doesn’t believe that skills are limited by age, and congratulate my bosses on going above the bar here.
To students: If you’re passionate about something and want to get started now, then do. If there’s a company you want to work for, then start getting in contact with them. Gather everything you’ve done, and show why you’re the best fit for the job. The worst thing they can say is no.