A More Complicated Future, A More Dimensional Gaze

Anna K.
Age 23
Video Associate at ONE Campaign

Anna graduated from Georgetown University in spring 2020, a milestone that was both anticlimactic and disorienting as she moved from “student” to “employee” against the backdrop of the subdued capital city. Anna had a good idea of  the direction of her professional journey, having interned throughout college in creative functions at mission-driven organizations. Her full-time position as a video associate at ONE Campaign, beginning in July 2020, was a natural progression.

The mission of ONE, an international nonprofit whose founders include megawatt musician and philanthropist Bono, is to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease by raising public awareness and supporting policies that save lives and improve futures. Easy enough! Aligned with its altruistic outlook is a benefits plan that includes a retirement savings program available to employees after their first 90 days on the job. Anna was auto-enrolled and received the base employer match, but elected to increase her savings rate, which boosted ONE’s contribution, totaling 7% savings. Though Anna says her understanding of retirement planning is limited to labor issues addressed in history class, she has a natural savings savvy and an inkling of how she might define her retirement.

The year 2065 may feel eons away, but by that time, Anna hopes that society at large will have made gains on climate and gender equality issues and that she will have basic food and housing security. “I would like to think that I’ll be living comfortably,” she said— with the perspective that comes from working in a field committed to relieving discomfort. “I’d like to have the opportunity to pursue artistic passions and flesh out any hobbies that I’ve been meaning to try.” Anna reflects on her grandfather’s experience. Now retired, he spent his professional life as an engineer and currently gives lectures at local historical societies. He is sharing knowledge — and gaining much in the process.

Anna hopes her pursuits will similarly enable her to give back and expects that her generation will likely embrace a more charitable approach too, potentially balancing a longer working life with a more service-oriented retirement.

While the uncertainty of the last year could understandably corrode the collective optimism of the rising generation of workers, Anna has a different take. There’s a freedom in having all preconceived notions dismantled and making it up as you go along. Anna couldn’t imagine this moment 12 months ago, but the water is fine, and it makes her less wary of the oceans ahead.

The role that technology has played in Anna’s life, and in that of her generation’s, also makes her feel closer to possibility. “It’s incredible to imagine how close we can get to these huge changemakers in the US and around the world — and even how we can effect huge change from our apartments — thanks to the power of social media.”

While we may agree that change is in the air, particularly as we transition from the seasonal and symbolic winter to the spring of the pandemic, identifying what needs to change is still an important and layered task. Working toward retirement security in 2065 requires addressing a range of equally complex issues, including but not limited to retirement savings plan access, worker’s compensation, employment and re-skilling, gender equality, student loan debt, affordable healthcare and racial disparities specific to homeownership and generational wealth.

Anna inherits a more complicated future, but she brings a more dimensional gaze, seeing both the problems and solutions in the same societal tapestry. “We won’t solve for one until we solve for all of them,” she says, but she and her peers, poised to be changemakers, seem uniquely up to the task.