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Kia Guarino - Working part-time
School: Boston College
Major: Communications
Current town: Falls Church, VA
Job: PR assistant; test proctor
Previous status: Unpaid intern

A master's degree in international conflict management was Kia Guarino's dream, but she says the best schools wanted years of work experience. So instead, she focused on finding a job at a nonprofit -- but in a catch-22, her fellow applicants all had master's degrees.

Guarino then turned to her fallback: public relations. But that field has taken a huge hit during the recession. After several dead-end interviews, she began an unpaid internship with Amnesty International. The position is winding down in a few weeks, and it doesn't look like full-time employment is an option.

Guarino's first student-loan payment is due soon, and her health insurance just ran out. But it's not all bleak; she's working part-time as a Princeton Review test proctor, and as a public relations assistant at her mother's sustainable bath products company.

Her most promising prospect: One of Guarino's former internship supervisors saw the previous CNNMoney story and offered to fly her to Chicago for an interview at her PR firm. Guarino is "really optimistic" about landing the job, she said.

"I've had a tough time, but I wouldn't change it," Guarino said. "It gives you time to reflect and to learn that it's OK if you don't get your dream job right away."

Things are also looking up for Guarino's friends, which has helped fuel her optimism. "Within the past month or two, people are increasingly finding jobs," she said. "It's definitely a consequence of the economy turning around."

NEXT: Zack Kwarta - Employed and in school

Last updated December 21 2009: 7:24 PM ET
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