My first child was born on July 26, 2016. Seconds after he was born, I heard him wailing with his first cry and an emotion of amazement rippled through me. He was so beautiful; it was love at first sight.
Major relief crossed my mind knowing that my baby and my wife were healthy and fine. Besides feeling exhilaration, I also had moments of doubt. Questions started to loom, such as:
Will I be a good father?
Will I have the financial resources to provide for my son and my wife?
How does this affect my work/career?
Over the next 48 hours, while learning something new every hour, I had plenty of time to reflect. I fondly recalled how my parents raised my brother and me. As immigrants, they came to the US for the American dream: raise a family, start a career, and save enough money for retirement. Both of them worked for only two companies their entire careers. I recall their desire of having a “40/40 career”: logging 40 hours per week over 40 years in order to earn a retirement pension.
Unlike my parents, the average Generation X-er will spend 3 to 5 years at each company before moving on to the next. I am twenty years into my career and I’m working at my fifth company. When I look at my newborn son, I wonder how many businesses he will eventually work for during the course of his career.
Today’s workforce is changing, rapidly. Millennials are gaining share of the total US workforce and surpassed Generation X as the largest group in 2015. By the time my son turns 16 and begins to work, Baby Boomers will all be retired and Millennials will be over half of the global workforce.
If you think Gen X-ers’ tenures are short, Millennials change jobs even more frequently, and they are demanding more flexibility. Every young professional I mentor or have met with has a second side gig in addition to their main job.
Many Millennials also leverage platforms like Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and Shiftgig for instant access to tasks and gigs. They are seeking to make more money, gain new skills, and work when they want. They leverage technology to apply for work and given the penetration of the smartphone, over 80 percent of Millennials have access to jobs at their fingertips. Smartphones also mean that they can get the feedback they crave by seeing how they compare to their peers.
Given the historical workforce trends and gig economy, my son’s future career path will look dramatically different than that of my parent’s 40/40 career. He might just choose from hundreds of gigs while in school, work at numerous companies in his twenties, and start multiple businesses over his 40-year career. For now though, he can simply eat, poop, sleep and be my precious little Guy.