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Tech Companies Attempting to Lure Students Outside the Ivory Tower with Free Food, Fat Paychecks

It's probably going to be a tough sell to your parents, though.
1282942070 c59e25147d Tech Companies Attempting to Lure Students Outside the Ivory Tower with Free Food, Fat Paychecks

It would take a lot of money to make us leave this. (flickr.com/Hugo Pardo Kuklinski)

Computer science majors are the new star basketball players. That is seriously the thesis of this Wall Street Journal article. Welcome to America’s tech industry in 2012, which is apparently one steroid scandal away from becoming completely analogous to professional sports.

There’s no question the developer talent crunch has filtered down to our nation’s institutions of higher learning. Startups and established companies alike are jockeying to remove students from said institutions as quickly as possible, and to that end, they are plying them with free food and free Android pajamas (no, really). According to one student: 

Companies, he said, routinely wine and dine students at posh restaurants to discuss internships and jobs, plying them with free limo rides to bars, $500 cash giveaways and raffles for iPads. So many companies give away free food when they hold technology talks at Brown that sponsors had to move the food inside the computer science auditorium to keep non-engineering students from grazing.

Well, it’s not exactly hookers and blow, but it’s the next best thing.

Some students don’t even have to choose between big checks at established companies and a lottery ticket at a startup. One student turned down an internship from Amazon that paid $5,300 a month, plus $3,000 for housing, in favor of a better offer from Nebula, a Kleiner Perkins-backed cloud computing startup. As part of the wooing process, she got a personal phone call from the Nebula CEO. What did they offer her, a blank check? A Lexus?

But at least one person the Journal talked to sounded a little cynical about the whole thing. An assistant dean at Carnegie Mellon pointed out, “Many companies are trying to seduce students because they really need them,” he said. “Students get a little starry eyed. For many of them they are better off finishing.”

If we might be equally cynical, it’s also worth pointing out that that extra year or two of college doesn’t come for free, and it’s easy to understand why someone in college pursuing a career in computer engineering might leave college to take a promising job in computer engineering.

Besides, everyone knows you can cover the core requirements for $1.50 in late fees from the public library.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com