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 thus far. Read below to hear why Kiva interns are working to become the next generation of social innovators.

Angele - Review and Translation Program (SF)

What makes working at Kiva unique?

I’ve had past internships before, and the culture at Kiva was the first time I was exposed to this much open-mindedness, joy and just people who share the same goals. It goes beyond just being colleagues, but it's also friendship while we’re all working towards the same goal. I really love that. 

What project have you most enjoyed working on so far?

I’ve enjoyed working on milestone awards, which are just little thank-you gifts that we give to volunteers around the world after they’ve hit a specific milestone - like translating over 500 loans or editing over 1,000 loans. We prepare the packages here and we hand write a card to show them appreciation for the job that they do. I think that’s the best thing I’ve been working on because when they receive their packages and they write back, they’re like, “Oh thank you sooo much!” It's really nice. 

What are your next career steps and how has this internship prepared you?

First, I have to get my degree and graduate in a couple of months. But, I’ve always wanted to be a social entrepreneur in sub-saharan Africa. My best friend and I have started an activewear brand with african prints, and it also has a social mission of empowering women in sub-saharan Africa, so this is the next step - really getting into it and seeing how I can expand production and actually get it to the market.

The way the internship has helped me is it has given me a wider perspective of the importance of a social mission and how your work can impact a certain community that has been overlooked by society.

Terry - Kiva US Team (SF)

What led you to Kiva? 

In 2005, I was doing a lot of travel in Africa and at that point I had camped a few times with local women in the Sahara. I saw how hard they worked and how they were the mainstay of their families in their community. When I got back, I heard about Kiva and the fact that they were lending to underserved women, such as the ones I had been spending time with, and I thought that was so cool. Kiva has been on my radar ever since. 

When I left my corporate job, I became an entrepreneur and started my own snack food company called Planet Street Foods. When that was at it’s end, I was trying to figure out how I could use my entrepreneurial skills and business skills in the nonprofit world. I looked up Kiva, saw the intern program and said, “This might be a really good way to figure that all out.” And that’s why I’m here. 

What project have you most enjoyed working on so far?

The trustee program on the US team is really, in my opinion, such a critical part of what makes and will make Kiva US successful, so to have the opportunity to work on that program - try to fine tune it a little bit, build relationships, expand it - is a really cool thing. 

Trustees are part of our community strategy and are primarily nonprofits who work with entrepreneurs. We target many trustees that are working in segments that we are looking at, which are women, people of color, immigrants and so forth. The trustee refers them to Kiva, then they endorse them by saying that they believe that this particular entrepreneur has the character and business skills to have a successful business and payback the loan. 

Tell us about your favorite Kiva moment. 

It was probably when the US team went over to Oakland one afternoon and we visited a few of the Kiva borrowers. That was really fun and interesting. We saw the fruits of our labor, understood how much borrowers really need our services and how they will continue to thrive in their environment if they continue to get the right support. I was able to buy a beautiful pottery bowl from one borrower and the other was a cider brewery - Crooked City Cider! 


Imanol - Portfolio Analysis (SF)

What project have you most enjoyed working on so far?

The one that I have enjoyed the most is the one that I am working on right now. It’s onboarding of a new partner in South America. I’ve worked in many different parts of due diligence but this is the first one they are allowing me to do on my own. I have reviewed the application of the partner, I have reviewed all the documents that they have sent, I have done all the analysis and I have conducted an interview with them. 

It’s been really amazing because I really love numbers and doing this financial analysis, discovering their products, how they get funded - all these things. It’s really been valuable.

My manager reviews what I am doing every week, but feeling that you’re in charge is something important. YOU are the contact at Kiva. Somewhere else, you would always be in a team or working with someone else who has the same experience as you, and you wouldn’t be able to work with the regional director directly (who is my immediate boss at Kiva). He gives me really valuable lessons every time we review my work. It’s not like other places, where you are not able to work on the whole project and see all the parts you've worked on come together. 

Tell us about your favorite Kiva moment.

I would say the All Hands meeting. I really want to learn not only professional skills but also how to create a welcoming environment, and I think that meeting is the perfect example. It has Kiva Love at the beginning, which is an awesome way of doing team building - this is where we read aloud compliments and thank-yous to other Kivans, recognizing all the work that they do. The next part of the meeting I love because you get to pitch your ideas to the whole company. Where in other companies are you going to be able to do that? Even if you're an intern, you can share your ideas with everyone - including the CEO. Everyone is always going to listen to both you and your idea. 

Anything else you’d like to share with a potential intern applicant?

I come from Spain, and something I really want to tell people from other countries is it’s possible to do this - to come here - and it’s a really valuable experience. Also, if you’re from a non-English-speaking country, people here are going to help you with that and it really works out to come here. You don’t have to take a step back just because you’re not from here. 

Serra - Kiva US Team (NYC)

What project have you most enjoyed working on so far?

In general, I really love communicating Kiva’s value to small businesses because when they realize “Yes it is possible to get a 0% interest loan,” and in addition to that we give them social capital, they get very happy, and hearing that over the phone or meeting them in person when they say, “Oh my god, this is amazing,” makes me very happy on the job. 

Project wise, I’m working on a couple of operational projects to improve our conversion through the funnel - so, to convert open loan applications to fundraising loans. Using Looker, which is a new data visualization tool Kiva uses, and getting feedback from leads on the ground, I came up with a borrower tracker. To do that, I had to communicate with a couple of different teams to understand what we can do and what our capabilities are. I really liked that and it also taught me to use a different tool. 

What are your next career steps and how has this internship prepared you?

My next career step would be to stay in a socially impactful FinTech. I want to be somewhere along the lines of operations, strategies or business development. And, I want to work for a company that doesn’t just have a social impact department, but a company that has it embedded into its business model. I really believe there’s a gap in financial services and I want to work to help make these services more affordable, more transparent, more customized and more convenient for all people. 

This internship has helped me transition from investment banking, which was my background before this internship, to technology and social impact. It really helped me break out and transition to my desired industry. It also taught me to be self-driven and gain project management skills. 

What makes working at Kiva unique?

I think everything makes Kiva unique. I’ve never been in organizations that are this friendly, this collaborative and this happy to be a part of the organization's mission. I really care about the work I do so it really changes my approach to my work, and I think everyone at Kiva feels this way. It’s a very exciting, driven and friendly environment. 

About the author

Carly Bertolozzi