I kept my young charges, Bronko and Nagurski, out of school today to size them up at the first annual Youth Work Force Draft, held at Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. Expected to become an annual event, the forum is the brainchild of Dr. Sheldon Tyrel (brother of The Rand's principal), a professor emeritus from The University of Morvalia who’s now a human resources consultant. His goal: to match elementary and junior high school students with corporations eager to install them into cubicles as soon as possible.
Representatives from the federal government, VC firms and several big-name tech companies were in attendance, hoping to quietly cash in on the next wave of intellectual capital. Outside, school buses were parked four-deep.
“This conference is all about harnessing the moneymaking potential of youthful energy and creativity right now, while we can still use it,” said Dr. Tyrel before a group of soon-to-be-auctioned fifth-graders from Ayn Rand Elementary School (aka, "The Rand"). “Events such as these will help bring new life to corporations in dire need of young blood -- and help adults in those corporations get back to a 40-hour work week.”
The conference keynote was delivered by former Vice President Dick Cheney.
“They say the children are our future,” said Mr. Cheney, patting the head of one local youngster who got too close. “See young Timmy, here?” he gestured to the 8-year-old (who muttered, "Billy"). “When his stock options mature after he turns 18, he’ll be worth a bundle – and his parents can borrow against that. Even before that, he’ll be earning a good wage, scaled to his age group. And since Jimmy already has a taxpayer ID… I mean, a Social Security number, he can start contributing to society immediately.”
In conclusion, Mr. Cheney was bullish on the future. “With this conference, Dr. Tyrel has successfully married the concepts of work and play, as well as solved the Social Security budget problem. These children can look forward to not only learning and growing and playing, but also pulling their own weight for a change. Hook up to the plow, kids.”
The speech was punctuated by a half-hour standing ovation from the assembled parents and teachers.
Dr. Tyrel was pleased by the speech. “Dick's right. These children will be the world’s first trillionaires. And, as money is the most important thing in our society, this conference was specifically designed to give children the head start they so desperately need to stay competitive in this rapidly changing workplace environment.”
After the speeches, it came time for the main event: the draft itself. It took just 5 hours and 47 minutes to draft approximately 800 honor students from 58 S.F. Bay Area schools. First on the block were students from the “gifted” programs, who mounted the dais with sure grins and outstanding grades.
The first youth selected was Garrett Honux, a genius-level 6-year-old. The 4-foot-3, 68-pound honor student from Precambrian Park Elementary was snapped up by recent IPO Calix Networks for a 10-year, million-dollar contract. As a reward for being first pick, he was given a condo in Aspen and an OC-192 fiber line to his family’s home in Campbell.
“Calix had the most attractive compensation package,” said Garrett. “And their stock option plan was pretty competitive, if it pans out. But I really did it for the connectivity -- AND I get to hang out with CARL!” he grinned, toting a giant promisory note signing bonus for a half-million dollars, and a lifesized cardboard cut-out of Calix CEO, Carl Russo.
But such deals were unusual. Most kids with lesser qualifications and test scores went for much less. In the rounds to come, a fifth-grader from Monta Rinconada Middle School took away a $15,000 signing bonus and a company car from a company to be named later (represented by Kleiner-Perkins), and a fourth-grader from a private school went for an undisclosed amount.
“Young Susie there was a real catch,” noted a human resources manager from Oracle. “She usually does her homework – and even smiles on occasion. But don’t worry: we’ll wipe that smile off her face.”
One CEO of a major tech company, who wished to remain anonymous, held out for junior-high kids. “Nothing changes like a junior high school student,” he said. “These kids are volatile. DYNAMIC. That’s what we want.”
He also noted that his company had ceased college recruiting altogether. “College kids are all over the hill, in my opinion; they can’t keep up; expectations are too high. Some high-priced university has already pumped their heads full of bad ideas about how they’ll be making the big bucks after graduation. Most companies these days would rather pay a 9-year-old in stock options and Cheerios than pay any of those old, game-addicted twentysomethings $80K.”
He then touted his own firm’s fringe benefits. “At our company, these kids get all the coffee and candy they want. This bennie works well with our new 95-hour work week.”
Desmond Caulfield, chairman and CEO of Descend, noted that employers shouldn’t expect full performance out of 100 percent of the students they draft. “It’s like buying an old box of Topps baseball cards. There are usually some duds in there, but also potentially a few gem rookie cards. You live for those.”
One pharmaceutical giant went the mass-buying route: it took Mrs. MacPherson’s entire sixth-grade class from Warren G. Harding Elementary School in Alta Brava.
“They all cried a little, at first,” said HR manager Lea Bishoff. “That is, until we showed them our stock option plan. That’s when they got with the program. They’ll all retire at 25.”
“Young children can benefit corporations immensely,” noted a senior analyst at Grope Research in later break-out groups, where parents were able to ask questions. “Smaller children don’t necessarily mean smaller returns. On the contrary, they use smaller cubes, eat less, and they’re much easier to intimidate and control—once you’ve disarmed them.”
“Most of the larger corporations have been working toward a more Dickensian work force model, anyway,” said Arlan Schmenge, CEO of SoftPeople. “Opening it up for the kids makes this model more complete.”
In the end, it was Dick Cheney who summed up the future most succinctly: “We need events like this to bring the little bastards’ high expectations down to earth, where they belong.”