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Does youth impress or depress the industry?

By teeheehee in Culture
Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:41:44 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

It appears I am too old. Here I am, senior in college, just past the brink of the drinking age, and I am already too old to get a job. Sounds foolish? Well, it doesn't really appeal to me too much, but it kind of intrigued me when a job posting for Chasma was placed on my school's bulletin board. I couldn't find it explicitly written anywhere that in order to get a job you have to be a teen, I did find this to quote which piques my interest: "From our journalists to the CEO, Chasma’s entire staff is under the age of twenty."

To be honest, I don't know quite how to approach the idea they plan to capitalize on...

On the one hand I feel compelled to congratulate them for bringing their efforts to the forefront and making use of their talents, exploring the possibilities of seeking out others in that age range who might benefit from the experience, and actually presenting themselves to the "real world" market using their youth as an advertisement. If I were motivated to be in business right away when I was their age, I would have saught them out and joined their ranks.

My hesitation to be convinced this is totally a good thing resides on a few thoughts:
  1. Am I too old to be able to get a job there (if I wanted one)?
    • If so, is this a form of agism?
  2. Is tenure restricted to reaching the age of 20, however long that may be?
    • If so, is this a possibly volitile company, in that it must change CEO every few years (unless you get lucky enough to get a kid prodigy at the age of 10).
  3. Does this rob their employees of useful experiences which could help them out in situations later on in their lives (for example: social skills in a non-work enviornment, developing a work ethic derived from having a multiple-generation spanning employee atmosphere, etc.), or conversely enhance them?
  4. Would this give oppertunities to show and raise programming skills (along with the other job positions available), or might it give false precepts and overinflate one's ego too soon?

Mostly I'm wondering about the psychological effects that might be incurred. Surely, I was a teen not that long ago, and I chose the path which gave me time to still broaden my horizen, but for those who choose the path to work right away, do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? I know it's possible for people to be ready for their lives to move ahead at an enhanced pace, but at what cost? Is this a good thing?

Some of the points can only be answered by the company themselves. I'm interested in what the K5 community sees in this, and how many of you would have chosen to be in this company if given the chance (for all those old geezers 20 years of age and over out there :-) )...


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


How old when you started work
o Kid prodigy ( age < 15 ) 15%
o Teenage wonder ( 15 <= age < 20 ) 49%
o About what's expected ( 20 <= age < 25 ) 26%
o Sometime later ( 25 <= age ) 4%
o Born rich ( what's work? ) 0%
o Born poor ( what's play? ) 3%

Votes: 119
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Chasma
o Also by teeheehee

Display: Sort:
Does youth impress or depress the industry? | 40 comments (38 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
I don't get it. (4.33 / 21) (#1)
by inspire on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:43:09 AM EST

So I went to the Chasma site. Main page looked impressive - "Teenage CEO to keynote at conference".

Okay, thinks I, lets get a bit more info about these guys. Click over to "About Us". First thing I see is their large-font boastful quote, "Our unique teen perspective cannot be duplicated".

At this point I start to get confused. Most companies exist to actually provide a product or service, don't they? This one just looked like a pump-and-dump with "fresh teenage perspective" as a hook.

Aha! News! Now they've got to have announced something in the news section, right? "Teen CEO awaits his IPO". "Teens looking to graduate from school to big business". Not a word about their product. I'm seriously annoyed now.

The writeup to this article was so good though, that I decide to give the site one more chance. Ah, there we are, a mission statement. Its worth clicking, at least - hopefully it won't be filled with vague corporate-speak most other companies have.

With the ability to cater to the teen market better than any other company in the world, the Chasma Media Network produces the best teen portal on the Internet.

What is the helix?

Re: I don't get it. (3.20 / 10) (#2)
by Elendale on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:45:26 AM EST

The funniest part about that is they will only be able to say that for a few years :)
There is a flaw inherent in making your age the basis of your buisiness- especially your lack of age.


When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
Re: I don't get it. (2.66 / 12) (#3)
by inspire on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:50:52 AM EST

Ah, I fear that reading too much FuckedCompany has made me cynical to a point where I completely forget that there is more than one interpretation to my comment :-/.

The key word in the post above, of course, is:


I agree fully that their incessant bleating about their age is an equally annoying aspect to this company though.
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]

Re: I don't get it. (2.62 / 8) (#11)
by shirobara on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:53:31 AM EST

Ah.........this is what they do.

[ Parent ]
Re: I don't get it. (2.62 / 8) (#13)
by inspire on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:00:31 PM EST

Great. Like the world needs another fucking portal.
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]
Re: I don't get it. (2.87 / 8) (#16)
by shirobara on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:05:40 PM EST

Not just another fucking portal...but four fucking portals.

Some cultural revolution! ^_^

[ Parent ]
Re: I don't get it. (4.80 / 5) (#29)
by fvw on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:16:00 PM EST

A fresh teen perspective?

Great businessplan, if you're a porn site....

[ Parent ]
I didn't have a problem (3.62 / 16) (#4)
by loopd on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:54:06 AM EST

When I was 16, I got my GED and went to work full time in the tech industry. Now I'm 19, and have a very good job that pays nicely, and is far from dull. Given the choice to do it all over again? I'd do the same thing. Maybe a different choice of companies, but that's all that I would change.

The "psychological effects" go both ways. On one hand, you end up with a better feeling of self-reliance. You know that you're young, and if you fuck up and work for a dying start-up, you can get back on your feet more quickly. You feel intelligent (keeping your own with people 10+ years older than you tends to do that), and most importantly, if you play your cards right, you feel like you're proactively helping your future by gaining experience in the industry in which you want to work.

Of course, there are negatives. When you first start out, you'll have to prove yourself. You have to *always* learn from your coworkers. You have to be willing to take a lot of shit for being the youngest one there, sometimes by a great many years. You have to be able to commit yourself to working a suicidal schedule, since that's the stereotype that you will, unfortunantly, have to conform to, at least initially. And perhaps the worst part, you'll always wonder "Where would my life be if I had gone to college", which occasionally keeps me awake at night.

I'm not sure if I answered any questions that were embedded within that post. But to sum up, yes, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Age discrimination, inexperience, etc. (4.27 / 18) (#5)
by Mendax Veritas on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:15:47 AM EST

To comment on your numbered questions:

1. You don't say whether they REQUIRE that all new hires be under age 20. If they do, I think that would constitute age discrimination, and would probably be illegal.

2. If tenure is restricted to age 20 (as in, you have to leave when you turn 20), then again, it's probably illegal. Also incredibly stupid, both because of high turnover and because the founders will themselves be forced out.

3. I suspect a company founded, led, and entirely staffed by teenagers (especially if they make a big deal out of the fact, and see it as a plus) would probably be a very arrogant group. Whether they would be successful or not would depend on whether they were really anywhere near as smart as they thought they were (most teenagers aren't). And I think the lack of exposure to seasoned professionals would be monstrously detrimental to their own development as professionals. At my first job (I was 20; this was in 1986), I was working mostly with people in their late 20s and early 30s, and I learned a hell of a lot from them, not merely about technical issues (I was already pretty good at coding), but more importantly about the non-technical aspects of being a professional and working with others. One of the hardest things to learn, if you're a very bright, arrogant teenager (as I was) is how to work with people you don't particularly like or respect, and this is an absolutely essential thing to learn, because not only will some of these people be worthwhile even though you don't like them, some of them will be potential customers of yours, and it won't do to tell them to their faces how stupid they are, or even to have it be obvious from your behavior that you don't think much of them even if you don't actually say it.

4. This is a false dichotomy; I think both are true. Working with such a young group, as one among equals, is both an opportunity to shine and an invitation to an overinflated ego.

And to answer your final, un-numbered question about the overall psychological effects, I think it will vary from person to person. Some people may do very well in a situation like this. I imagine the young Bill Gates would have thrived (though look at what he's become -- he's middle-aged now, and incredibly wealthy, but he's still basically an arrogant teenager mentally, still thinking that he and his friends are smarter than everyone else). I think most young engineers would be better off working for a fairly small company with a mix of ages, with the senior engineers and managers having several years of professional experience and track records that include actually putting out successful products.

Illegal? I hope not (3.20 / 5) (#22)
by loner on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:53:29 PM EST

This sort of age discrimination is, like you said, probably illegal, but I would hope it isn't. Hear me out: this is one company among thousands, so I don't think the fact that they discriminate based on age is going to have a huge impact on society. Their discrimination is more of a gimik (sp?) than anything else.

Now if a lot of companies started hiring teens and passing over senior folks, I would say implement some laws against it. But based on totally-unscientific personal observations, this is not the case at all, I'm >35 and I get job offers all the time.

In fact, if this company does well, it can be a really good boot-camp for future hi-tech entrepeneurs. There is a similar thing in Latin pop music I believe: some all-boys pop group where the members are ousted as soon as they hit puberty [sorry too lazy to research and post links] Their type of age discrimination does not seem to affect the pop industry, and in fact many former members of this band have become big pop stars.

No facts here, just opinions, move along.

[ Parent ]

Re: Illegal? I hope not (3.50 / 4) (#25)
by El Volio on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:05:52 PM EST

Actually, it's already illegal to discriminate based on age if the individual in question is between the ages of 18 and 70. There are some exceptions to this, I believe, but that's the general rule.

The old band Menudo (now reincarnated as MDO) had this policy; the funny thing is, most of the boys disappeared as soon as they were gone, with one (Ricky Martin) able to resurrect his career to some degree lately, though I personally question if he'll still be around at all in a year... :) Other members have had minor careers, but nothing spectacular as far as I can recall (admittedly a poor qualifier :) )

I don't know that the situations are comparable, though: even in bands like that (and I'm sure that there are other similar setups), there are older folks managing things. It would be more akin to older tech management hiring a bunch of teenage programmers for their cheap talent.

Then again, just as Ricky Martin isn't exactly Santana, the average output will often be of lesser quality. There're always exceptions to that, however.

[ Parent ]

Re: Age discrimination, inexperience, etc. (3.85 / 7) (#26)
by Zane_NBK on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:09:59 PM EST

Look up that law. Age discrimenation is only illegal if you're discrimenating (and can be proven to be doing it) against those over 40. Age discrimenation for being too young or being 30 is still currently legal (according to Federal law anyway, states may vary). So far in CA, OK, IL, KS and MO this has been the case.

Sad but true.

I still remember getting paid $6.50 an hour as a tech when I was billing $90/h for Unix work and $60/h for everything else. My employers thought that was more than enough seeing as how I was as old as their son (18).


[ Parent ]
Youth and the industry. (4.87 / 31) (#6)
by inspire on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:21:13 AM EST

Okay, I have a confession to make: I'm young. Turned 19 a month ago.

"So what?"

Being of the more entrepenurial type, in high school 3 or 4 years ago, a friend and I started a small web design firm to which we run to this day.

I have to admit, that I thought we were top shit. We'd look at sites done "professionally", and laugh, saying that we could've done a better job in our sleep. Being the more technically minded of the two of us, I delighted in pointing out technical flaws in our "competitors" sites. My friend would laugh at the obvious crappy HTML.

I still believe that today. Those sites were truly crap. People would pay web-design consultants hundreds of dollars an hour to be told stuff we thought was blindingly obvious. However, for some reason, we never made the big-time. We were relegated to doing $20/hour "kid" jobs for small business with no web-vision. Of course, we felt this grossly unfair.

One day, I get a mysterious email with a phone number asking if we did web programming. We ring the number - not expecting too much. It turns out that somehow an indirect reference from one of our existing small business clients was a certain government department who wanted a quote on some web work done.

We'd hit the big time, or so I thought. This was the absolute perfect opportunity for us to charge big bucks like the clueless consultants did. We went to their office and discussed their project. Keep in mind that I am approximately 16 years old at this stage - the "suits" in this department did something that threw me off completely.

They listened. They paid attention. We were the experts there. They took fucking notes.

This freaked me out. Perhaps we're not ready for the big time, I wonder. Eventually after further discussion of the project, it seemed entirely do-able, even though they required an NT solution, and I was a Perl coder. I just secretly resolved to learn a thing or two about ASP programming when working.

Fast forward three months. I dont know a fucking thing about ASP. I downloaded an evaluation copy of WebBase, a PHP/ASP-like scripting language with "idiot user" hooks to the database. That's when I realised that I didnt know a fucking thing about SQL - until now I had done all my programming in flat text files in Perl. Not a problem - read a book, learned the most basic of "SELECT" queries.

Armed with this, and example code from the WebBase manual, I eke out a "to the specs" system, ridden with bugs, but it worked (or so we thought). Relieved that we had beat the deadline, we go back to their office, set everything up, and prepared to present the site.

As soon as I try to do a simple lookup, the whole thing falls to bits. Shit. I spend 15 minutes in front of the assembled group just debugging the thing (turns out I had basically programmed in a SELECT without using any of the user input as what to select to. Choosing one record as an example whilst debugging made me overlook this boneheaded error). The bug is resolved. My partner looks relieved, and continues the presentation. I'm shaken, though, and I tell him in front of everybody, "shit, this code is full of bugs".

Everything stops. He looks at me as if I had punched him in the face, and says, "but it works now doesnt it?". I utter the fateful words "I wouldnt trust mission-critical data to this thing". The government department has a bit of a thing about mission-criticalness, being in the field that they are. I call off the presentation.

Our contact at the department is a nice guy, he looked after us. I suppose he gave us a lot of latitude because of our age (partner was 16 as well). He gave us a lesson that day - he told us, "never, ever, ever, argue in front of a client. It is plain unprofessional. If there is some emergency, have some sort of code phrase like 'gee, its a nice day today, isn't it?'".

We walk away tail between legs. We did eventually bugshoot the whole code and submit it to the client, but by then the actual department had broken up. Due to some loophole we got paid anyway.

We were young. We had new ideas. But we were arrogant, and overestimated our abilities. Due to this, we ended up letting the client down and looking extremely unprofessional.

What is the point of this? I need a breather - I'll continue this post in a reply, as I dont want Netscape to crash or anything. Sorry about this guys (and girls).
What is the helix?

Re: Youth and the industry. (4.83 / 24) (#8)
by inspire on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:32:55 AM EST

Three years on, and what have we learned?

Simple: we learned business skills. We came to realise that technical proficiency does not automatically translate to big profits. We learned about organisation, and productivity, and why you can't just pull all-nighters to get client's work done after slacking off. We learned how to be professionals. We learned to respect the client and not to treat them as some giant bag of money from which we can grab as we like. We learned that even now, as I'm writing this, there are probably a zillion things about the industry that I should know but don't. We learned how to be wrong, and accept that gracefully.

In other words: we grew up.

What would we have been like if our contact at that government department hadn't admonished us? We probably wouldn't have changed. People tend to learn very quickly from their failures.

Without the voice of experience in a company, how do you expect them to react to new situations that arise in the business world every day? Experience allows us not to make the same mistakes twice.

I'm somewhat glad about flubbing that project. Although it cost us a lot in terms of swallowing our pride, it has made Dzine Source a more mature company, aware of its responsibilities.

And I realise that in 20 years time, when I'm 40, I'll have another outlook altogether. This is why age diversity in a company works - teenagers may have a "unique perspective", but more mature people in the company provide it with a balanced perspective.

In closing, another thought: if you take a group of teenage boys and strand them on an island, you might expect to end up with Lord of the Flies. However, if you take a spread of people from all age groups, a natural order of age will enforce itself - leading to this thing we all know and treasure: society.
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]

Where's +7 when you need it? (2.50 / 2) (#32)
by cesarb on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:59:07 PM EST

This was the single best post I've ever seen in kuro5hin.

[ Parent ]
Re: Youth and the industry. (none / 0) (#34)
by paryl on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:55:22 PM EST

Are you sure you're 19?

I don't want to make you feel too good (:)) but that is a very good story. Print it out, hang it up. Make sure you never forget it.

It sounds like the whole experience forced you to grow up. That maturity, especially at 19, will be a huge asset in the future.

[ Parent ]

interesting but unrealistic (3.64 / 14) (#9)
by tokage on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:40:10 AM EST

The whole idea is kind of nutty, like "Peter Pan and the Lost Boys get real jobs!". The fact that the company prides itself so deeply on hiring only younger people(im 22, be disqualified, alas) shows at least unique vision and fresh ideas. It all seems like a subtle market ploy to me though, an advertisment companys golden dream. I'm sure they plotted along the path of demographics most likely to reach out and capture the teenage market, and this is what they came up with it. Perhaps the founder was slighted working when he was younger, or something like that.

I think it's a good opportunity for the kids though, a job which they have no adult competition for, and don't have to try to convince said multi million dollar company to hire them, despite having nothing on the resume, no matter if they actually have the skills. If you search around their site though, it really is just that much fluff. Look at their Investor information.."Board meetings are held every thursday at the corporate headquarters". That be kind of entertaining I'm sure, a bunch of kids sitting around eating pizza, having nerf gun wars etc(not that we don't do that at my work). There are a few fallacies though, such as reverse age discrimination. Do they really think they will reach out and touch most mainstream teenagers by hiring a bunch of teenage computer dorks, who aren't really even -part- of mainstream society, achieve their "Unique Perspective" which "cannot be duplicated"? I know when I was a teen and into computers heavily, I wasn't exactly Mr Fit In, or Mr In Touch With My Generation. The commitment required for in depth knowledge of the things a job like that would need goes far beyond the everyday pop on AOL and chat with your buddies from highschool computer fad. It's kind of ironic really, they're beating a dead horse. The 'internet' delimits the gap by age. When you're in a channel on irc or talking on a weblog, you don't know how old the person you're talking to is. Code knows no age, only ability, it's one of the great equalizers. What they need is a select crop of the MTV/N Sync empty minded consumer teens who will know how to appeal to their fellow vacuum-headed bretheren, which is not found in the admittedly anachronistic new breed of smart kids, of whom there will continue to be more and more of.

Anyway, like I said, seems like a cheesy market ploy. A novel idea, but full of somewhat obvious holes. It should give these kids some experience anyway to move on to another job, which is all good. I'm off to harrass my 19 year old network genius friend with the url of that, he faces real age discrimination, getting paid less for doing more work etc..being the good person I am, I'll rub de salt in;)

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red

Re: interesting but unrealistic (3.60 / 10) (#18)
by Mendax Veritas on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:12:56 PM EST

I mostly agree with you, except for this part:
When you're in a channel on irc or talking on a weblog, you don't know how old the person you're talking to is. Code knows no age, only ability, it's one of the great equalizers.
These are actually two separate issues, so I'll address them as such.

Quite often it isn't that hard to get a general idea of how old someone is on a weblog (or newsgroup, or whatever), assuming that people are being honest about what they think and aren't trying to give false impressions of themselves. I don't think I can really pin this down in words properly, but age (and to a lesser extent, gender) does become fairly clear when someone is in the habit of posting frequently and you get to know them. Of course, one may mistake an immature brat of 40 for a teenager, but the reverse is much less likely, since maturity can't really be faked.

As for code as an equalizer, well, they used to say the same of guns. It was a saying in the American Old West that "God did not make men equal; Colonel Colt did," referring to the maker of the Colt .45 revolver. It wasn't really true, of course; some people are quicker on the draw than others, or shoot straighter, and experience counts for quite a lot, if you live long enough to get it. Similarly, experience is necessary for good coding, although not everyone with experience is a good coder. (I would say that I was better at 20 than some of the 30-somethings I work with now, and I'm a lot better now, at 34, than I was at 20. That doesn't mean I was really great at 20, just that some of my current co-workers aren't terribly good coders, though most of them are very good at other things.)

[ Parent ]

Who to learn from? (3.58 / 12) (#10)
by shirobara on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:48:12 AM EST

I'm an 18 year old working as an assistant web designer (my situation, of course, differs from this one and many others in that I am in a job designed for a student) at the university I attend. I work primarily with my boss, who is some ten years older than I am, and a coworker, some three years older than I am. I'm lucky, because my work environment is simply fantastic, as are the people I work with.

My boss taught web design at another college before she moved here, and it shows - she can make a fantastic page in a very short amount of time. I am so envious of the beautiful things she does - I want to learn from her, learn how she takes her thoughts and makes them into something impressive. I want to learn how to do things as well as she does, and I want to learn how to do them better.

My co-worker is much closer to my age, and I love the guy. I learn a lot from him too and I help him out a lot. It works really well. And, you know, if I had some theoretical world where I started a web design business, I'd definitely want him. But my boss has so much more to offer in terms of teaching - in terms of how to make something look good, sure, but also in terms of how to deal with people, how to deal with software, how to do something the right way and the best way. So to say, well, she's older than me, she's outdated and useless - that's ridiculous. She has so much to teach, and I have so much to learn.

Re: Who to learn from? (none / 0) (#36)
by zlite on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 05:08:10 PM EST

I can't help but note that your experienced mentor who makes the case for the advantages of age is all of 28. Out in the real world, that's still considered fresh-behind-the-ears young.

That's the great thing about the tech market: young people get a chance to have an impact while their at the peak of their creative energy. But it is amazing to me how the definition of "young" has been taken to such an extreme.

[ Parent ]
Hah... (none / 0) (#41)
by shirobara on Tue Oct 31, 2000 at 09:05:01 PM EST

You know, that's very true. 28 to me is ancient. I really hadn't thought about it that way.

[ Parent ]
Psychological effects? (2.90 / 10) (#12)
by Defect on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 11:56:03 AM EST

The only regret i have for not going to college or any isntitute of higher learning is the lack of social interaction now. It occured to me not too long ago that i'm not in much of a position to meet friends close to my age, and i'm not outgoing when it comes to talking with complete strangers.

As for the success part of it, i'm happy. 18 years old working as a programmer for a communications company. Something about making as much money now as my friends would be lucky to get straight out of college keeps me all warm and fuzzy inside. I figure it can only get better from here. Next year i'll get a apartment closer to boston where several of my friends are or a condo somewhere else.

I'm doing the things i've loved to do since i was eleven. I'm learning new things everyday and i get free training to learn as much as i want.

I still consider this a stepping stone of sorts, as i do want to expand to other areas of computing in time, but it works for now.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
The big dilemma (3.50 / 4) (#30)
by Smiling Dragon on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:06:16 PM EST

I've often wondered how my career would have started out if I'd skipped over university and gone straight into the workforce... It's always a tough one - the ones that skip it tend to say that they are happy for not spending the vast money and so much time etc to get a pointless degree with no practical use, while the ones that did the study tend to be scornful of the lazy buggers that leave it up to them to learn the hard stuff and do the hard work while they make a quick buck and then act high and mighty for it :)

I know that _I'd_ have been a much bigger liability to a company than an asset if I'd gone into the workforce at 18 - I just didn't have the right social-skills and work ethic. But I can see advantages in both plans, people my age that I work with have a far greater experiance base than me but find new concepts harder to pick up... It goes both ways.

-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]
Going a different way... (2.90 / 11) (#15)
by Stargazer on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:04:36 PM EST

I could have my life career by the age of twenty. Not some job related to what I want to do, but the job I might like to have for the rest of my life. Yet, I'll have my Bachelor's degree by then.

I made a decision that I'm surprised I don't hear more geeks talk about. I went to an accelerated high school. When I was in the sixth grade, I took the entrance exam for this school, and passed. Hence, I skipped the seventh and eigth grades, and went straight into high school after finishing the sixth grade. Four years later, and here I am, 16 years old and a freshman at college.

There were many reasons besides acceleration for which I chose to go to this high school; however, they are beyond the scope of this comment. This idea seemed the best route for me to take. I skipped the boring years of school, and went into a cirriculum that, for the first time in my life, challenged me.

As a result, I'll be entering the work force sooner, but I still get the well-rounded education that I want. Has anybody else done this? Would they like to share their experiences, too?

-- Brett

Re: Going a different way... (3.16 / 6) (#17)
by shirobara on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:08:28 PM EST

I didn't do that, but my high school did have a program where you could attend college classes and get college credit (automatically applicable at any Ohio public school, and for any other college that'd take them) and HS credit. When I was there, you could do that for your junior and senior year - theoretically you could get your associates degree at the same time you graduated. They were talking about expanding it to fresh and soph. years when I left.

Doing that my junior year was more or less the best thing that happened to me in my whole time in school, and if I hadn't graduated early I would have done it senior year too. Great, great program.

[ Parent ]
Re: Going a different way... (3.16 / 6) (#19)
by inspire on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:12:59 PM EST

Did something similar to that. Skipped a grade by claiming that the work was too easy and unchallenging (had to take an exam to prove it, though).

I wont be entering the workforce at any age proportional to you guys (girls?), though, the average time from out of high school to graduating from medicine is 6 years, without considering the additional training required to enter a specialty.
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]

Re: Going a different way... (3.85 / 7) (#20)
by mandomania on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 12:41:11 PM EST

I didn't have the opportunity to go to an accelarated high school. But, one of the brightest people I've ever met did.

I met Keith in my 68K assembly language class. He was sitting at the terminal next to the printer in our horrendously under-equipped (read: 1 computer for every 40 students) computer lab. While I was waiting for a printout, we started talking. He looked over my code and politely chuckled. After a couple of iterations, we decided to leave the lab and get something to eat.

It turns out that Keith was 16 and taking second year computer science classes. We talked for hours about technology and the Internet. He was really impressed that I worked at an ISP (read: free dialup and shell access), and we really hit it off. I was really impressed by his grasp of the then arcane subject matter (I would later find out that both his parents were assembler programmers).

Keith had some social "issues", but I think we all had (or have, as the case may be) issues when we were 16. Keith, if you're reading this, drop me a note. It's been too long, bro.

The Code is Sound.
[ Parent ]
Re: Going a different way... (3.40 / 5) (#24)
by Zane_NBK on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:56:16 PM EST

I wish that option had been available to me when I was in High School. I went to several different Junior and Senior High Schools all in small towns. Almost all of them had a "gifted" class of some type but none of them had any real advanced path for their students. I remember taking Algebra two years in a row (7th and 8th grade) because Algebra WAS the advanced class (generally around there you did some general math in 7th grade and pre-algebra in 8th grade). Two years of math was required so I had to take it twice, how nice.

I also remember wanting to drop out and get my GED when I was 16 (mid-way through my Junior year) because it had gotten to the point where they were just repeating everything I'd already learned. The only real non-review classes I took my entire Junior/Senior year were Trig, Physics II (taught by a gym teacher) and American Government. I wanted to take Calc my senior year but I was forced to take "required" classes like English IV and 6 semesters of PE/Health (the only school I've ever been to that didn't count my 2 years of basketball and soccer as PE credit).

Sometimes I wish I had dropped out and gone to college then, I might actually have gotten a degree. :) Can't say that I'm unhappy with where I am today, but I still wish I'd gotten some advanced education.

Anyway, enough rambling. The main point of my post is that in many school systems accelerted high school and college credit courses are still not available. Evidentally that one "special" class a day in Junior High and the Honors courses are supposed to be enough.

Honors courses. I graduated with a 3.51 GPA (thanks to a <2.0 freshman year, was pretty depressed that year and never did any of the work) and was in the bottom half of my class. In that school you had to have >4.0 average to be in the top 25%. Give me a break. You're just moving the scale upwards without really increasing kid's knowledge.

If you can afford to send your kid to a private school then do it. The smaller the better. The best school I ever attended had 44 students. My class was 11-14 and my Phsyics class was 2.

On a side note (as if any of this has stayed on track :) when I moved to Kansas City's Westport High School (their "communications and technology magnet school") they replaced my Phsyics class with Oriental Cultures and my French class with rug weaving. WTF?? A high school without Physics?


*done rambling* :)

[ Parent ]
Re: Going a different way... (none / 0) (#35)
by jnik on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:01:36 PM EST

I fast-tracked a bit, too. Sliced one year off each end: started first grade at the age of five, did high school in three years and went to college at sixteen.
I would strongly urge any and all bored geeks to get themselves jumped a grade, get permission to take HS courses in jr. high, get permission to take college courses if in HS, and graduate early if possible (or drop out after getting a college acceptance). If you're bored with your schoolwork, get the heat turned up a bit. This is especially true if you find that most of your friends are older than you already, or that you communicate better with adults than kids your own age (although don't neglect that, either!).
Yes, this has some psychological backlash which isn't entirely pleasant. However, smart people have to deal with psychologically damaging things all the time--the world isn't built to accomodate them. It's much worse to stunt your intellectual development based on your age than it is to have to stretch a little bit because you're surrounded by people older than you.

[ Parent ]
Don't take the age thing personal... (3.50 / 8) (#21)
by pjc on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:23:12 PM EST

I've been doing software development for 17 years, so I don't think you can complain about being an old-timer. Just wait until you are approaching 40. I'm sure you will have a much keener appreciation of what age really means ;^)

Aside from that, this whole thing is a marketing gimick. Forget it. In my current industry (Brokerage), unless you come from Harvard, you are pretty much guaranteed to be at the bottom of the corporate totem pole if you are under 28--for quite a few years. At least here in New York, Fortune 500 companies don't buy the youth myth.

pthread_exit( (void *)0 );
Re: Don't take the age thing personal... (3.85 / 7) (#27)
by Not Jon Katz on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:10:01 PM EST

I completely agree. I see a lot of comments on the two web communities that I visit, this one included, that start with "I'm twenty-something" and it goes on to say about how they did such and such, or how skipping school was the best thing they did for their career, etc. I tend to look at these posts with a grain of salt. Most of these people have fairly limited experience in a great economy. What I value most, as a 33 year old, is the opinions of the more experienced people in my organization. I may have risen to their level (professionally) very quickly but I find they have so much to offer -- whether it is techniques for dealing with difficult employees, how to present a nasty topic to management or even the best way to change careers (esp. in a downturned economy - which will arrive sometime in the future). Most of the younger employees in the organization, myself included, simply do not have the life's experience to handle the tough questions -- they, like everyone else, have yet to experience the hard knocks and make mistakes. In fact, in my MBA program I will say that the least useful opinions are those from the "just graduated" class. They have no real experience from which to draw upon. I see the same thing re: computers -- we used to use a lot of hardware hacks to make up a few cycles here and there. With the processing power of todays computers, and better compilers of course, the art of optimizing loops gets lost -- but there are times when it comes in really handy, and having a more experienced coder around who knows the tricks is the only solution. Finally, I agree that the more stable non-ecommerce-model businesses certainly value experienced employees. The PHBs at these businesses (like the company I work for an Insurance co) recognize the intrinsic value of experience. That said, they also have been known to cut people over age 50 out of the workforce in favor of slightly younger (say, 30's) up and comers. Sorry for the ramble.

[ Parent ]
Put it this way... (3.16 / 6) (#23)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 01:55:11 PM EST

they're obviously hopeless regardless of their age, because they're Yet Another Portal Site[tm]. They're trying to turn the web into a newspaper, which it is not. It may take time, but sooner or later, they will lose, just like everyone else in that business. I'm all for business opportunities for young people; I'm not exactly a geezer myself(although I'm considerably past 20, I admit.) However, I think that having a legitimate business with a chance of succeeding is more important than having a cool political agenda; I feel sorry for their investors, most of whom probably lack the combination of technological savvy and ability to think about media in unconventional ways necessary to recognize the inherent problems in the "portal" concept, but feel good about investing in something that looks like a worthy cause.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Re: Put it this way... (none / 0) (#33)
by shaggy on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 02:31:45 PM EST

1)Why are they hopeless regardless of age?
2) If the web isn't a newspaper, then how come every major newspaper in the US is on the web?
3) Obviously portals will never make it, just look at how shitty yahoo, lycos, iwon, netscape and every other portal out there are doing. not.
4) Investors invest in things they think will make it. Just because a company is a portal and you don't like portals doesn't mean that they are going to succeed.
5) This is not your father's old machine indeed, but you can't seem to come to gripes with the times and the fact that portals are out there, they ARE succesful, and they are going to be around for a long time.

Your personal opinion won't change what business' do

[ Parent ]
At my age... (4.00 / 5) (#28)
by craigmswanson on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:14:40 PM EST

...53 this month I must be one of the living dinosaurs of this industry. I can remember hand punching bootstrap loaders into Honeywell 516 computers with core memory to play "core wars." I wrote my first fortran on a DEC 11/70 running RSX11. Some of my friends became legends in their own time. I was around when Ethernet was invented and I was an early adopter and took flack from the pointy haired managers over it. I was a geek before the word became part of the common vernacular. What's the point? With age comes a rich history born of experience. I admire smart kids a lot. Given a choice I'd prefer to work around some dinosaurs.
--My CueCat ate my karma
Fulltime gig?!? (3.00 / 3) (#31)
by 11oh8 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:57:55 PM EST

From their webpage, it looks like this "company" makes portals aimed at teens.. I'm not sure if all the employees (except maybe the CEO) do this as a full time gig.. During the last few years of college, i've started several "businesses".. these weren't things i put all my time into and they didn't prevent me from experiencing the rest of collegiate life...

If this company is just a group of teens making websites that i think it's a good idea... and should be applauded...


A note from the CEO of Chasma (5.00 / 3) (#38)
by Dave bell on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 05:37:37 PM EST


When I checked my e-mail today there was a great deal of response from the posts on this forum, and I would like to respond to a few of the questions and comments posted up here.

1.) Chasma is an equal opportunity employer. While our concept is of a teenage company, our main purpose is to allow teens - with a great deal of talent participate in a truely awesome company and experience.

Generally, the large corporations do not give teens a chance to demonstrate their ability, and base hiring decisions on a degree - rather than the approproate combination of individual talent AND credentials. We are giving teens a chance to utilize their talent and make a difference, genuinely do something that will effect the world.

I, personally, have always believed that each person is born with a specific talent that they are ment to do. Something that is fun and exciting to that individual.
While most teens require the entire school and college experience to figure out what they were ment to do in life (and we fully support going to college) - some have been able to determine their talent earlier in life.

Teens, who haven't yet experienced ALL the harsh realities in the world are more likely to break through the barriers which society sets upon innovation -- because they don't know such barriers exist.

Granted the flipside to this, is inexperience; however this is why we have an incredable board of directors - including Paul Johnson (developer of the One Write Plus accounting series, co-founder of NEBS); George Schwenk (Founder of 6 Inc. 500 companies, and member of "The Breakfast Club" - a highly influential investment group in New England; Paul LaFrance, CTO and co-founder of Dirig Software; with investors on board including Dick Morely - the inventor of the technology behind the floppy disk drive. "Originally no commerical use intended."

2.) As stated earlier, we absolutely support teens who wish to go to college, and in fact many of our staff members do have future academic plans.

3.) With regard to age - as we (the original staff) grow older, we will continue to cater to the teen market by bringing in more teens, and at the same time expanding into new markets (adult demographics) as we become adults.

-- An important thing to note is the Chasma is not just a "website" company. We are not in the business of website development, but are in the business of content creation + related software development. We have a "brick and mortar" product philosophy that will be further revealed as our relationship with Lucent progresses. (Under partial NDA at this point.)

I believe that nothing should stop anyone from achieving great success, whether that success is academic or business (real world application) related. When our business succeeds, I will be happy - when we open the door for other teens thinking about running a company (who didn't know they could) i'll be REALLY happy.

Thanks for letting me rant -

~Dave Bell
Chief Executive Officer,
Chasma, Inc.

My two cents (none / 0) (#39)
by atr on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 06:31:32 PM EST

It seems that there has been a bit of bellicose nature in some of the posts here. I am guessing it is because a true statement of intent was never given.

I am CTO for Chasma. Just so I don't get flammed for a bias post. For professionalism sake, I'll try to maintain objectivity.

Chasma was started to show tha teens can do business. Some might state it seems premature but I would have to say don't count your eggs before they hatch. I have seen some negativity towards all this and respond, how many teens do you know could write a business plan? have raised $250,000 in financing?

I will state for the record that I do not do this for the money or fame. I'd rather see success and advancement in people rather than some of my teachers in school telling me what I cannot do. Let yourself be the judge of that.

There is a large philosophical impetus behind Chasma. Among many adults, but not all, there is this image of teens as being entirely immature and needing twenty years of education before they can do anything. In the recripical nature, teens tend to be pugnacious towards adults. Ergo, Leading to one huge dichatomy and animosity between everyone.

Highlighting Dave Bell's post, I tend to agree that the 'younger minds' tend to be more candor. This is not a generalization either. I state this merely to show an observation. Chasma's board of directors, compromised of all adults, ranging from 40s-70s, has been nothing but a positive aspect. They watch for the iceburgs as we steer the ship.

Just as much as a 10 yearold could see Britney Spears and say "I want to grow up to be just like her. If she can do it at such a young age, and I start now, I'll be just as good as she is when I'm that old". Inspiration is a good thing. It's time for positive role models. Rewind the video tape to around the dark ages and medevil times where honor and glory are true and respected in a society. If we can advance everyone far enough where mentality to start, run, and function a company at a teenage year, that means we're evolving.

When I was 15/16, I was denied jobs specifically because of my age. Even after emailing internet service providers, telling them about security holes, I was refused employment because of age. It didn't anger me enough to walk into their offices with some carbine powered assualt rifles and level the place, but rather to keep on learning.

I always enjoy peoples' perspectives and talking with a wide variety (ages) of people about this topic. If you're going to slam something, or say something negative, justify your statements with reasons.

(sorry for the mispelling and mechanical errors)

Re: My two cents (none / 0) (#40)
by Luke Scharf on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 04:31:02 PM EST

Chasma was started to show tha teens can do business.

Shouldn't creating and selling the product be the focus of a business?

If you focus on your core business and learn from the right people, your business will do well. Best of luck.


Just so you know where I was coming from, I started working with my Dad selling and servicing PCs when I was 13. By the time I got my driver's license, I was doing service calls to home users and to businesses. I guess I did pretty good -- at least many businesses would specifically ask for me to come back the next time something went wrong with one of their Win31 or 95 boxes. :-)


[ Parent ]
Does youth impress or depress the industry? | 40 comments (38 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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