Not Your Father's Summer Job

Don't think he's just another teen-ager having a laid-back summer. Roddy Knight is spending his vacation hard at work in California's Silicon Valley.

CBS News Correspondent Ray Brady reports.


He's working at not one but three summer jobs, as a computer programmer and an Internet site manager. This 18-year-old is making much more than the minimum wage. He makes close to $5,000 month, he says.

And that's not all. Though he is still in high school, Knight is part of what may well be a burgeoning Silicon Valley trend. Along with his salary, he's getting stock options as part of his summer internship at Keynote Systems.

"It is definitely more exciting than just getting a regular salary," Knight says.

It is exciting for him because if this start-up company is successful, those options could set Knight on the road to riches.

Umang Gupta, the CEO of Keynote Systems, believes stock options motivate workers, even those still in high school.

CBS
Keynote Systems offers stock options to employees.


"In my view, it does not make any difference if he is a young man or older," Gupta says. "It is how good you are at what you do. And Roddy is good at what he does."

Once stock options were granted only to CEOs and a few others at the top echelons of a company, but Silicon Valley is rewriting the book: Even janitors get them. And now some secretaries are able to buy million-dollar homes.

Mark Edwards, who negotiates contracts for Silicon Valley workers, confirms the tight labor market is causing a rise in options. "It's a seller's market," he says.

"High-tech companies are granting options at a rate of three to four times general industry. They're sharing the wealth that much more. And that gives them a competitive advantage in attracting smart people," Edwards says.

Knight's wildest dream about his stock options is that Keynote Systems will do as well as Microsoft, he says.

And what a dream! Anyone with options to buy even just 100 shares of Microsoft when it went public in 1986 at $21 a share would have shares worth $1,296,000 today.

Ask Knight what he would do if he strikes it rich with the options, and he says the money "will come in handy if I should decide to start my own company."

But if the stock market should crash, "I'm still getting a salary so, I think I'm going to be fine," he says.

And Knight knows that with stock options, you don't always win.

Indeed, of the CEOs at America's top corporations who received options in 1997, 25 percent of them got no payoff by the end of 1998.

till, at age 18, Knight has time and a bright future in his court.


©1999, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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