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High unemployment rate won’t leave students jobless

Statistics foreshadow bleak job-hunting for students graduating college, but part-time work for college students is attainable.

At 6.5 percent, Florida’s unemployment rate is a bit higher than the national average of 6.1 percent — and Tampa’s unemployment rate is an even higher 6.9 percent. In the last year, the national unemployment rate has risen 1.4 percent and is at its highest since September 2003, according to The New York Times.

For Florida, the unemployment rate is at its highest in 13 years and has risen more than 2 percent in 2008, according to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Though these figures may be discouraging to some, experts say students can find part-time work if they’re willing to be more aggressive.

“Most of that (6.9 percent) is people looking for a job for the first time or coming into the labor market after going out,” economics professor Don Bellante said. “Most people who had jobs have kept them. In times like this, it’s hard to get a job if you don’t have one.”

Getting that first job could be students’ greatest challenge.

“There are jobs out there, but it isn’t as easy as it was before,” Bellante said. “Employers can be fussier when they don’t need as many people.”

Career  Center Director Drema Howard agrees.

“There are jobs out there, but the difference is it’s much more competitive than it has been,” she said. “Employers are very selective.”

Students are not only competing with their peers, but with people who have more experience, she said.

“You can’t be passive at all today — you’re going to have to go through a lot of noes to get to a yes. You have to be an active job seeker,” she said.

Howard said she believes students on college campuses have an advantage over other job seekers since they have networking capabilities, such as on-campus job fairs and speakers who frequent student associations. The Career Center offers assistance with creating professional resumes and helps students make connections in their industry of choice.

Networking is more effective than sending out random resumes, Howard said.

Local employers also agree that proactive students seeking part-time jobs will succeed in acquiring work.

During the busy season of October through December, Target hires about 65 to 70 new team members per store and about 100,000 employees nationwide.

“Overall, hiring has been consistent,” Target spokesperson Beth Hanson said. “We just encourage anyone and everyone to apply.”

Target has not cut its part-time positions due to a declining economy, she said.

Other employers, such as Busch Gardens, have had to become more selective in their hiring process, but these changes do not affect college students.

Gary J. Vien, human resources vice president for Busch Gardens, said the economy is a factor in the hiring process and prompted the company’s June decision to hire only applicants over 18 years old.

“What we’re always looking for is the cream of the crop,” he said.

Busch Gardens has hired about 1,500 new employees since last January and averages about 12,000 applicants a year.

Vien said that if applicants maintain good eye contact and a come in with a positive attitude, they will get the job. A good, solid application will always help, he said.

“We want people to want the job. If they are doing those things, they’ll be very successful,” he said.

The theme park is still seeking photographers for Howl-O-Scream, he said.

Students have mixed opinions about the part-time job market.

“I think students have a hard time finding jobs no matter what. If you’re lazy, you won’t find a job whether the economy is stagnant or booming,” said junior Cason Parker, a business major.

Freshman Katie Fineran, a nursing major, said she believes students should look out for advertisements posted around the University to find a job.

“I notice around campus they have a lot of fliers,” she said. “I think it would be easy to find a job through campus.”

Senior Christine Cocchiola, a psychology major, said she’s been watching her friends struggle to find work.

“I feel all my friends have been saying they need a job for months now, and everyone still seems to be jobless,” she said.