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  • Writer's pictureAdrienne Leinwand Maslin

Saving for College and Traits that Promote College and Job Success

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

So why should 8-13 year olds be concerned about getting a job? For the most part, they shouldn’t be. They should put their hearts and souls into being kids and all that requires. Developing friendships, becoming better readers and deeper thinkers, learning how to handle conflict, and developing a variety of interests in music, science, nature, or sports, to name just a few. But it’s never too early to start saving money for college and early jobs can help with this. And, 8-13 year olds grow up and the characteristics needed by good employees—punctuality, dependability, honesty, creativity, positive attitude—should be cultivated early on. We too frequently find that even college-age students have not developed these habits that are so necessary in college and in the “real” world.

Roxanne has these necessary employment traits in buckets. She’s punctual to a fault, can always be depended upon, volunteers for difficult jobs, is honest, and has a “can do” attitude. No, Roxanne’s problem with finding a job—which she desperately wants to do to start saving money for college—is that she, quite unrealistically, applies for jobs well above her skill level.

She was so beautifully dressed for her first interview. Conservative, cornflower blue suit, manicured blue toenails, colorful, yet tasteful, scarf around her neck. She carried a black leather portfolio with her. She was hoping to snag the position of Vice President of Pickles and Polly School, Playground, and Daycare for Dogs.


And why not? I had already been a student at Bark Palace School for two weeks. I knew everything there was to know about how to run a school, right? Sheesh! So I arrived 10 minutes early for my interview. Sat in the waiting room until Spot, the receptionist, brought me in to Ms. Pickles’ office. Ms. Pickles and I greeted each other in the usual way of human canines—we smelled each others’ butts—and Spot brought me a bowl of water. I drank thirstily, only dribbling a little on the floor, and took my seat for the interview. But I couldn’t answer any of Ms. Pickles’ questions: “How do you approach curriculum development? What is the role of music and art in the curriculum? How are fire drills performed?” It was embarrassing. I was clearly wasting Ms. Pickles’ time but she was very understanding and wished me the best in my job search.

Mr. Domino wasn’t so nice. He pretty much yelled me out of the office. How was I supposed to know that CFO meant Chief Financial Officer? He asked me about spreadsheets, revenue, and expenditures. And asked if I was familiar with Microsoft Office Suite. All the while, I was singing a song so he’d know what a great Chief Fun Officer I would be for Domino’s T-Shirts and Top Hats for Dogs. Even telling him my status as a front seat dog didn’t stop his anger. I was so upset that as soon as I got outside I shook my high-heeled boots off, threw my kilt in the mud and stomped all over it.

Now, Starr, the manager at Daddy Doglick's where Jaylen and I got jobs as baristas, she’s a wonderful boss! She trained us for a week and then let us do our thing. Unfortunately, our thing wasn’t quite up to standard. I squirted syrups everywhere—except in the cups! Jaylen sang and danced his way through each order which didn’t help his accuracy. Decaf drinkers got double shots of espresso. And the customers were all yelping at us. Starr was very upset. She gave every customer a $10 gift card while asking them all to give her one more try, promising a perfect experience the next time. She even apologized to us. Yes, you read that right. She apologized to us! For assigning two newbies to handle the counter on our own. She said it was her fault. She’s a class act! I hope I can be a boss like her someday.

Just as I was at my lowest, thinking I would never get a job and never be able to start saving money for college, a neighbor came by. She asked if I could babysit for her son, Newt. Of course I said “yes.” I arrived early so she could give me instructions before she had to leave, and I brought games and books. My reputation for being punctual, responsible, honest, and creative has spread all over the neighborhood. And my college savings account is starting to grow very nicely!


Even lower-cost colleges have expenses that go beyond tuition. There are a variety of fees—technology fees, library fees, lab fees, studio fees—and other expenses such as books, transportation costs, special supplies for certain classes such as art or science labs, and students need to have some fun money. And starting to save for college while developing the qualities that contribute to job success at an early age will help children as they grow to adulthood and take on jobs where the expectations are higher.

Of course, one of the best ways to prepare young people for job success is through school. Arriving to school on time, prepared, homework completed, necessary materials in hand will not only help a student earn high grades, but will reinforce the characteristics needed for success in school, college, and beyond.

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