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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Throughout the past several days, a disturbing statistic has emerged.

This factor can potentially threaten the future livelihood of up to 50,000 people located in our stomping grounds —UF.

According to the Department of Labor monthly jobs report, almost 500,000 people ages 16 to 24 have stopped looking for jobs.

This age group most notably concerns college students looking for internships as well as immediate positions following graduation.

Overall, it appears that on a national scale, fewer job opportunities exist for college students.

While there is no need to bring gloom to the forefront of the minds of UF students, this number should first and foremost serve as a wake-up call.

The stature of the situation may be reduced due to the fact that a majority of students have returned to school within the past month.

Nevertheless, this report should serve as a warning that we all must act now — while in college — to make ourselves more marketable for future employment.

At this point, with Election Day drawing nearer, we could argue and discuss which candidates’ economic policy will best serve college students following graduation.

Instead, it’s more important than ever to consider how to maximize the UF experience so that none of us are included in this statistic in the near future.

According to Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, there are “less opportunities for them [students]. They have it rough.”

While this may or may not be true, we ought to take any opportunity on campus to grow as leaders, as students and as future employees.

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We often say there is no time like the present.

As college students, this is very easy for us to do. However, there is no doubt that while enjoying our college experiences, we need to at least plan for the future. We should set obtainable yet meaningful long-term goals.

While pursuing our hobbies and passions, we need to look down the road into the future and ask ourselves where we want to be at the conclusion of the UF experience.

It is of the utmost importance to have the ambition and drive to take action to make that goal come to fruition by pursuing professional development as well as leadership opportunities.

There is literally no time to waste if we truly want that competitive edge in the job market.

Because various political campaigns will spin the most recent unemployment report to meet a specific agenda and will attempt to blame our troubles on the opposition, regardless of economic conditions, it is essential to market ourselves positively and to seek that edge among our peers.

Our most precious resource is time, and as college students, it should be our job to maximize it.

The ball is in our court, and the choice is up to us to determine what we want out of college, and thus, where we want to be following graduation.

At the end of the day, no jobs report — positive or negative — should alter our UF experience.

Regardless, we must seize the day and create our own destiny by putting our future in our own hands so that we may maximize our time now to best serve us into the future.

Matthew Schnur is an economics freshman at UF. His column runs on Wednesdays. You can contact him at opinions@alligator.org.

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