Our third letter comes from Nicole Morris, who just completed a six-month internship at our San Francisco office as a Community Support and Engagement intern. Her next steps: spending two months backpacking Europe and then continuing non-profit work, hopefully in the Bay Area.
Before the end of 2019, I participated in the first Kiva SF office cleanout. Having been employed for only 5 months, I did not expect to find anything sentimental in the piles of papers, files, folders and objects in the multiple crevices of Kiva HQ.
In almost-autopilot, I proceeded to sweep through the archives with my team, and as we were flipping through large laminated photos from our Kiva U program, I shockingly came face-to-face with my high school self.
It was my senior year at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory where I learned about Kiva and microfinance: first through my AP Government class, and then further through my Earth Action Club’s tangential involvement with the Kiva Club. The photo was taken after a Kiva U presentation in our theater, where my eco-best friend and I spoke about sustainability and social good.
The greater focus of the presentation was hearing the founding stories of Tanka Bars and Indosole, two businesses and Kiva borrowers who were greatly impacted by having access to 0% interest capital through Kiva US. Our teachers concluded our curriculum with a Kiva Carnival, where student groups became small-entrepreneurs for a day, and then lent the net profits to Kiva borrowers.
My early introduction to Kiva revolutionized how I thought about social justice and impact.
At a glance, my college experience included volunteering, campaigning, learning about social issues, and trying to activate those learned ideas with greater intention. My return to Kiva was catalyzed by both my social impact-focused mind AND a haphazard broad LinkedIn search for post-grad internships in San Francisco. Throughout the application and interview process, my Kiva enthusiasm continued to amplify, and then reached a high when I scored a position on the Community Support and Engagement team. I was very excited to return to an organization that was catalyzing initiatives related to worldwide financial access and other meaningful issues.
Intern and Fellow Training Week (a.k.a Kiva Crash Course) taught me that I knew much less about microfinance and nonprofit operations than I thought. Finally being in the midst of so many unique roles and duties, I realized it takes a unique blend of teamwork to make the dream work. With an ecology degree in hand, I was perpetually awed and bewildered by the different teams outside of my own, particularly the Impact Investments team.
Being a new member of Kiva’s frontline response, I dove headfirst into learning about Kiva’s lending community and operations. Under the guidance of two wonderful managers and in solidarity with a co-intern and now best friend, I conquered many lender questions in Salesforce, analyzed qualitative data based on lender feedback, pioneered a multitude of projects, and even organized a Holiday Lender event-- where I had the pleasure of interacting with lenders, borrowers, staff and other esteemed members of the Kiva community.
There were highs, lows, and many in-between moments throughout the course of the internship; truly, though, I’ve found immense pleasure in answering lender questions over the phone, in the power of Google Sheets, and in the particular moment my team closed out a 1300+ case week in time for my 22nd birthday.
What I also swiftly learned about was Kiva’s awesome office culture. Communication is streamlined, intern engagement is amazingly integrated into the work week and there are so many opportunities to be continuously learning about other teams in the office. I hung out with many different coworkers, traveled to our offices in Portland and New York City, and participated in a lot of work-related bonding activities (long live Yoga to the Kivans). I genuinely look forward to every work week, with its excitement, laughs, unpredictability-- but also the predictability of office vibe manager Verlance’s Friday popcorn.
I am currently displaying the laminated Kiva U photo in my kitchen. It’s a bright, full-circle reminder of everything I’ve learned, the experiences I have had, the people I have met and the importance of my continued involvement in social impact-based work in any form. As sad as I am to leave the Kiva family I’ve made, I’m also excited to turn in my laptop, disconnect on my travels in Europe and embark on an uncertain journey of self-discovery, professional development and making positive change.