Intern insights: A final look

Kiva loves to celebrate its interns and the meaningful work that they accomplish every day. Now past their mid-internship point, we sat down with a few of them to hear about their work and how their time at Kiva has impacted them. Read below to hear how Kiva interns are working to become the next generation of social innovators. Read below to learn what it's like to be an intern at Kiva. Interested in growing with Kiva? Check out our professional development opportunities here

Mia Orans

Community Support Team, San Francisco office

What led you to Kiva?
During high school, I spent a few summers in South America, where I was taken by the impact that a few hundred dollars could have on a family or individual. Through this experience, I began to research microfinance institutions, which is how I found Kiva. 

Tell us about your favorite Kiva moment.
Participating in the makeathon is one of my favorite Kiva moments. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work on a team with staff from different departments and offices. I remember the hardest part for our team was to narrow the scope of our project. The challenge of having to choose which issues to pursue and how to pursue them felt very emblematic of Kiva and what makes the organization so special. 

What are your next career steps and how has this internship prepared you?
I’m not sure what my next steps will be. However, I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity that Kiva has given me to be apart of such an inspiring and supportive organization. Through this experience, I’ve gained a better understanding of the type of organization I want to work for and the people that I want to work with. 

What makes working at Kiva unique?
The culture! I know that everyone mentions the culture and the people, but I think it’s something that can’t be overstated. Kiva is a place where everyone is excited and passionate about what they do and the impact of their work. It’s also a place where people are always available to talk, whether it's to discuss the impact of microfinance or to ask how you’re doing.

Ryan Holland

Kiva U.S. Team, Chicago office                                     

Tell us about your favorite Kiva moment. 
This question is a little hard because I don't know if there's one specific moment that I can pinpoint as my favorite. But I will say, I've gotten the chance to attend and speak at several events. I think those have always been my favorite because I've been able to speak with many people about their businesses. I enjoy hearing people talk about the things they're passionate about. Every time I leave one of those events, I'm like “wow, who knew that talking about finance was so interesting?” 

What are your next career steps and how has this internship prepared you?
For now, I’m finishing up my master's degree. After I'm done with the internship, I'll still have a few months until I finish my degree. After that, I’m hoping to continue working with micro lending. I volunteer with this nonprofit called Hope Worldwide. They do some micro lending and are trying to expand those programs. I definitely think that this is the path that I want to go down. Basically, I really want to continue working in this industry and in this field. One thing that I think I've gained from my time with Kiva is hands on experience working in the US market. I hope to work in the international market as well. 

What are you looking forward to in the last half of the internship?
It takes a little bit of time to really get your flow and it's funny because I feel like people alluded to this even before starting the internship. It takes some time to get an understanding of what your daily tasks are and how to successfully complete your different projects. Now that I have an understanding of how to do those things, during the second half, I'm excited to grow in the way that I complete those tasks. Whether it's efficiency or just rounding out my skills, I’m excited to see how this will help me in terms of my professional development. 

Anything else you'd like to share with a potential internal applicant.
I know that sometimes when you see the word internship, you kind of have this expectation that  you will just be getting people coffee and at best, you'll be inputting data. I think one of my favorite things about my time with Kiva is the fact that I've been given so many different tasks and projects. I've been given the freedom to own these projects. Obviously people are guiding me and checking in on the work that I'm doing, but it is very free for me to take ownership. I've been given a lot of trust and I think that something that makes an internship with Kiva especially unique. You really will develop new skills and you'll be pushed to do things that you maybe haven't done before. I don't think that's super common in other internships.


Danny Thomas Vang

People & Culture Team, San Francisco office 

What led you to Kiva?
I just recently graduated from the Department of Social Work at San Francisco State and one of my professors mentioned that Kiva is an organization that takes a social justice-oriented approach towards micro loans. She explained to us that Kiva assists marginalized communities, especially in developing countries, lift themselves out of poverty by providing them the tools and support to pursue their dreams. I had never heard of such a novel approach beforehand, so I looked at Kiva’s website and came to the conclusion that it did make a tangible impact in these communities. I love how Kiva seeks to help these individuals, both economically develop their own lives, as well as the wellbeing of other countries just in general. I applied for the internship and here I am now on the People and Culture team.
What projects have you most enjoyed working on so far?
Personally, I have found the most excitement in the onboarding process, which includes making sure new employees have everything set up so that they can comfortably start in their role. A couple of my tasks include making sure that new hires have program access, are introduced to their fellow coworkers on their team, and have scheduled time to meet with different departments. This process is quite enjoyable because it sets a tone for how this individual will progress forward throughout their time at Kiva. I want to ensure that they feel as though they are ready to participate and to contribute to their department from the onset, but also to facilitate an environment where they feel at ease with their team and the entirety of Kiva. The process can be quite rewarding.
Which intern programing event has been your favorite?

My favorite intern program would have to be the Own the Room public speaking workshop because the speaker covered informative material through interactive activities that were dynamic and memorable. For example, he told us that two-thirds of what we say is not actually necessary when getting our point across. It's more of just extra language. To demonstrate what that symbolized, he poured us a small portion of soda into a cup and had us describe it as we sipped it. He then added two-thirds more water into the same cup as the soda and had us taste the mixture once again, in which we described it as flat and diluted. He explained how the soda water mixture is what people sound like on a regular basis because they oftentimes fill conversation with unnecessary language or repetitive filler words. We learned best practices to speak more like the soda, where we could be a better communicator by only adding words that are necessary to a conversation. I always notice when I use filler words now and I am reminded to remove them from my speech.
What do you think makes working at Kiva so unique?
This answer is a little bit more on a personal note, but I am a person with a disability. I am blind and Kiva has been very proactive about making sure that I feel comfortable with my team and that everything is accessible, as I have to use a specific software to navigate a computer screen and to access information on the web. A lot of internships that I've have had in the past have not devoted as much time to learning about the fundamentals of a screen reader, which can lead to difficulties navigating through logistical conversations with a supervisor. However, with Kiva, it is not just my manager who has been proactive about accommodations, but it is also all the other departments that I have interacted with as well. It seems as though everyone has a very supportive outlook and that's really what I love and find unique about Kiva.


 Shezal Babar

Impact Investing Team, San Francisco office

What led you to Kiva?
I have always been passionate about financial inclusion. Growing up in Pakistan, I have directly faced how difficult it can be to gain access to finance to support one’s personal, professional, or academic needs in developing countries. Focusing on financial inclusion during my Masters in Public Policy at UC Berkeley further increased my awareness of this topic and working at Kiva specifically on the Impact Investing team seemed like a natural progression for me.

What project have you most enjoyed working on so far?
Helping fund early stage social enterprises. This is a loaded statement because there is so much that is involved with this line of work. My work at Kiva involves directly interacting with social enterprises to help them scale by providing them with access to funding for their working capital needs that they would not be able to receive without Kiva’s support. It has been extremely rewarding for me to guide them through their application processes, help their loans get approved by Kiva’s risk teams, post their loans on Kiva’s website and watch them fundraise with the help of thousands of individuals all over the world. It has revived my faith in humanity and philanthropy, to say the least.

Tell us about your favorite Kiva moment.
When a loan was approved for the first social enterprise that I was working with. This was a $100,000 loan that fully fundraised on Kiva’s website in only two days and disbursed to them shortly thereafter. It just proved to me how incredible the work is that Kiva’s Direct to Social Enterprise program is engaged in.

What are your next career steps and how has this internship prepared you?
My long-term goal is to move back to Pakistan and work on areas of financial inclusion and empowerment particularly related to communities that are currently financially excluded including women and minorities. Currently, I am looking to work in the tech industry in the Bay area and the responsibilities of this internship, along with Kiva’s network, has been extremely valuable in helping me through the application and interviewing process.

About the author

Channing Fisher.

Channing first witnessed the ability of entrepreneurship to empower people while studying Spanish in Guatemala. Throughout college, she became interested in microfinance while working in business development in the Netherlands and studying the effects of tourism on Caribbean economies. After graduating from Principia College in 2018 with degrees in Political Science and Business, she began work for a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit and later found Kiva. She's passionate about communicating and sharing the work done at Kiva and elsewhere in the international development space.