George Will had an
interesting column titled
"Basement Boys" in NEWSWEEK about how young people today seem to be
perpetual adolescents. I really enjoyed this profound observation:
"Playboy magazine, a harbinger of perpetual adolescence,
sold trinkets for would-be social dropouts: "Join the beat generation! Buy a
beat generation tieclasp." Think about that."
Ha! Let's be nonconformist with a beatnik tie clasp!
But the baby boomers were not really perpetual adolescents, we
just looked like that to our parents because we stayed in college halfway
through our 20's.
I think that George misses the point because it takes
longer and longer to be able to enter the professionals workplace.
The amount of technology to learn increases and it's
not enough today to have a master degree. In the areas of engineering,
computer science and Information Systems, post graduate learning is often
required to remain competitive and it can take a decade of college study to
prepare for a professional career.
When my father entered the workforce (the 1930's), having a high school diploma was the equivalent of a
bachelors degree. When I started working professionally (the 1980's) you needed a master degree, and my son's
generation (the 2010's) a professional needs a terminal degree to
distinguish yourself and be competitive.
For each successive generation, education seems to take
longer and longer, yet the retirement age remains fixed at 45-50 years old,
with more time learning and less time spent working.
Preparing for the professional workplace takes more
time and education with each passing generation, but they all tend to retire
at about the same age (45-50):
The Greatest Generation: My
father (Born 1914, average life expectancy 56 years) spent his first 20
years getting ready to enter the workplace, 20 years working., and 20
years in retirement.
The Baby Boomer generation: I was born
in 1956 (average life expectancy 70 years), and I spent about 25 years
educated (MBA), about 25 years working, and hopefully, I will live to
get 25 years of
Generation Y: My son Andrew
Burleson (born 1986, average life expectancy 75 years) will have spent
30 years getting his JD/MBA before he enters the professional
workplace. But his generation is different. He should be
able to retire at about the same age has his forefathers (mod 40's), and
enjoy a much longer retirement.
The three stages of a professional's life
I found it interesting that, despite the changes, that
the life of an American professional seems to be divided into thirds:
American professionals life is divided into thirds
It's interesting that Generation Y will spend more time
growing up and getting educated than being in the workplace!
But this one-third rule is shifting, which each
generation getting more leisure years at the backend.
My father got about 20 years in retirement, I hope to
get 30, and my son's generation should get 40 years of retirement, after
only working for 15-20 years!
While my son will be nearly 30 years old when he enters
the workplace, he will earn far beyond what me and my father did (in net
present value dollars), and have will have earned his first million dollars
before he is 35 and he should be able to retire at age 45, about the same
time as his father and grandfather.
The difference is, of course, that he will live much
longer and have far more years to enjoy life than preceding generations.