"Dad, Doctors and Bank Tellers make the most money, right?"

This morning while getting ready for school, my son asked me if doctors and bankers make a lot of money.  I replied that yes, that is indeed true for many doctors and bankers.  He then continued by asking, "So, it would be good to be the guy at the bank counter that gives you the money, right?"  "Ahh...  well yes." I replied,  "He is a banker too."  But with the average salary for a bank teller coming in at about $25,000 a year it would be hard to me to say that they make a lot of money.  This lead to a discussion about which types of bankers can make a lot of money (trading, sales, fund management, etc) and why.  On his last birthday, my son received some money from Grandpa and Grandma.  The money was sent directly to his Coverdell Education Savings Account at our broker and he and I spent some time looking at different investments before he chose to purchase shares of Hasbro (HAS).  So, he knew about stocks and about buying and selling them.  I was able to add to that today by explaining about commissions and how some bankers can get very large bonuses for very large deals.

If the conversation had ended there I would have felt that it was already a productive start to the day.  As discussed in the article from March 29th, Why do kids all want to be baseball players and astronauts?, it is good to expand our kid's knowledge of the job world.  The more they know about different jobs and what they entail, the more likely they are to find one they like.

But, my son was not finished. He then said to me, "I see, but you have to be chosen for that job right?"  To which I replied, "Yes and no".  Now I was really enjoying myself, it is not often I get a chance to explain the intricacies of the hiring process to my kids without their eyes glazing over and here was my son ASKING for an explanation.  I wanted to make it clear that he has a fair amount of control over where he works and what he does in the future. He does not have to rely on someone's "permission" to do what he wants to do.  My explanation went something like this:
A big bank or any company for that matter, will receive maybe 1,000 resumes from college kids who want to work for that company.  The first thing most companies will do is throw away all the resumes of kids from colleges they don't think are good enough.  Now they may have 500 resumes left.  Of those 500, they now throw away all the ones that do not have good grades (Studying is important).  We are now down to 200 resumes.  The people at the company look at things like the clubs you belonged to or which sports you played and certainly what you studied in college and from the 200 resumes they choose the ones they think are the best 50.  We are not finished yet, they need to meet with these 50 kids and ask them why they want this job.  This is the interview and it is important to show your excitement about the job and the company.  There may be several people in the company who interview those 50 kids and then they will vote on who they think is best and those 5 kids will get the job.  So, while it is true that you need to be chosen, there are many things ranging from working hard at school to extracurricular activities that can give you a better chance at being one of the 5 kids who gets the job.
Again, we could have stopped there but this then lead to a discussion on making money in general and how money making jobs are not limited to banking and medicine.  I used his example of a vending machine and asked how much he thought he could make each month from one machine.  He suggested about $50 which is a good enough number for our purposes.  I then asked him how much he would make each month with two vending machines.  He soon got the idea as we increased the number of machines.  It did not take long before he was earning $2,000,000 a month from his vending machine business (approximately 40,000 machines...).  "The point..." I explained, "...is that you can make money at almost any job. It is important to find something you like and would enjoy doing and then do it with 100% effort."  For that little bit of fatherly wisdom I received a monotone "hmm" and that was the end of the conversation.  Hopefully something stuck!

At age 10, it is more important to learn what types of jobs are out there than it is to pick just one.  The more they learn now about their options, the better choices they can make in the future.  If our sons and daughters are excited about a future job, their grades will reflect their interest.  Their passion will show in their resumes through the related activities they enthusiastically participate in and it will come out in an interview in the form of high motivation and energy.