Intern insights: A final look

Kiva loves to celebrate its interns and the meaningful work that they accomplish every day. Halfway through the internship cycle, 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 what Kiva interns have to say about their experiences.

Shoka Marefat - Strategic Development (SF)

What project have you enjoyed working on most so far?

I’m really passionate about the refugee crisis, I expressed this to my manager and she works closely with the World Refugee Fund. So helping her with that in any way I can has been my favorite project. In terms of my everyday projects that I do with the Development team, my favorite part of that has been building a skillset that will serve me in the career I want to pursue. It’s hard to pick just one.

What has been your favorite Kiva moment?

Probably my first Development team meeting. First of all, that whole team is a group of amazing women, and Premal Shah (Kiva’s President and Co-Founder) was there! I was pretty blown away. I graduated in 2012 and went into finance in a very soul-sucking environment and had no passion for the work I was doing. I went back to school for the kind of work here at Kiva, but going from the classroom to my dream environment was a “pinch me” moment for me. Finally getting my foot in the door in the field that I want to be working in that first week was my favorite moment.

Do you know what your next career steps are or what you would like them to be after this internship?

I finish my Master in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco in May. After that, I ideally would like to go into the for-profit sector and work for any big corporation that has the capital to approve a grant for Kiva. That’s kind of the dream, I just love Kiva so much and having firsthand experience of being a part of this organization and the Development team makes me even more appreciative for them. It’s one thing to talk about it in class but it’s a completely different thing to have this real exposure and be in the thick of it. I would love to be in a position where I could give back to Kiva in that way.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with a potential intern applicant?

If you want to have a mark in the world, but don’t know how, work for an organization like Kiva where they have a platform for you to grow and learn from. Having even a little bit of a hand in what they do has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had to date.

Erin Swaidner - Kiva U (Portland)

What led you to Kiva?

I needed an internship to fulfill my Bachelor’s degree for Community Health at Portland State University and I remember seeing the internship posting on the job board at my school, and instantly became super excited. One, because I had known about Kiva for a while - actually at the time, I had just given my mom a Kiva lending card for Christmas. And two, because the description of the internship really fit into what my goals were for finding the right fit and organization.

What makes working at Kiva unique?

I think that the culture of Kiva is really unique. Everyone is so friendly here and they make sure that everyone they bring on board fits in some way, shape or form into this atmosphere of camaraderie, collaboration and teamwork. Staff also make all their interns feel so welcomed, which makes you feel like you’re really a part of the whole operation - even if you’re only here for six months.

Do you know what your next career steps are or what you would like them to be after this internship?

I’m going to continue pursuing a more public education focused path, and I plan to get certified as a community health education specialist. Eventually, I would like to work towards health promotion education or potentially get my masters in epidemiology. I would also love to focus this work either locally or globally. Kiva has given me this sort of mini background in global health, so I may look into fellowships that allow me to dive deeper into this area of work as well.

How has this internship prepared you for your next career steps thus far?

I think working for a nonprofit organization has been really beneficial in allowing me to better understand all the ins and outs of the systems that I’ll most likely run into again, like Slack, Salesforce, Google Calendar and so on. I also think this internship has really developed my communication skills as well. Especially in the realm of recognizing when you need help and how to ask for it, and that it’s okay to not know how to do something - that’s why your manager is there to support you.

Maximiliano Bernal Temores - Portfolio Operations (SF)

What project have you enjoyed working on most so far?

One of these daily tasks that I have to do that I really enjoy is a borrower verification. So basically this entails me checking that the field partners are following Kiva’s policies. This actually gives me such a big insight into how each partner works, and the way they organize themselves - all of them are so different. For example, Kiva is working with partners that may have computers, but might not have all the systems. For instance, instead of sending me an Excel sheet, they’re going to send me a picture of the book where they do all of the manual calculations. I think it’s important for us to remember that we’re headquartered in these big cities with all this technology at our fingertips - but that’s not the case for a lot of these field partners, and it’s easy to forget this.

Which intern programming event has been your favorite thus far?

I really liked the diversity, equity and inclusion training that was held, because I think that in any office - regardless of where you are - that’s such an important subject to cover. To be able to foster respect and understanding in any communal space is key to having a successful environment. So I thought that session, in particular, was really well covered by Kiva. I’ve also really enjoyed the Microfinance Forums, where guest speakers from Kiva or an outside organization come and speak to the interns about a particular aspect of microfinance. I enjoy them not only because they are really interesting, but also because I am studying Economics in school. It’s fun for me to apply what I’m learning there and expand upon them at Kiva. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with a potential intern applicant?

People work at Kiva because they genuinely have this burning passion to help the world in some way. If you get this internship, it’s an incredible thing to work alongside all these people who have the same motivations as you, and that’s something super unique and beautiful. It’s also just really, really fun. I look forward to coming into work because I get to hang out with people I like and work for a cause I believe in.

Ana Varela - Kiva US (SF)

How has this internship prepared you for your next career steps thus far?

This internship has given me both technical skills, as well as more bigger-picture, strategy skills about how nonprofits work. The U.S. team is going through a lot of changes right now, so it’s been really interesting having the chance to sit in on meetings about these changes and provide feedback and input about certain ideas. Witnessing these kinds of discussions has allowed me to realize how much work goes into strategic thinking about program design. Also, this internship helped me to realize that I just absolutely love this type of culture, and I think that’s a good thing to be able to consider when I’m looking for my next job. Ideally, I would find a place that’s equally as laid-back but still professional, welcoming and friendly. I’ve taken so much away from this internship already.

What’s something new about Kiva you’ve learned since being here?

That they have free snacks! But I also didn’t know how in-depth they are with regards to your professional development, that’s something that’s been really surprising (in the best way). And I also didn’t know that we worked so closely with the immigrant population in the Bay area. I’m the intern who’s in charge of the reviews for all of them now, so that’s been a really interesting experience getting to know a bit more about.

What project have you enjoyed working on most so far?

I’m working on a project right now, it’s called my Impact Project. So basically I’m collecting and analyzing data about U.S. loan use statements, I’m trying to understand what kinds of loans we’re giving out to our borrowers and what kind of an impact these have. I’ve been pulling a lot of metrics about the demographics of these borrowers and then matching them with what they’re using their loans for. Then I’ve been turning all of this information into charts and data analysis to see what the story is there. Hopefully, by me converting all of this into one central database, managers or anyone who has questions about this population can easily find it in one spot and have all of their questions answered. I’ve been reading through lots of different profiles and categorizing all the different buckets of loan use - for instance, if they use their loans for marketing, hiring employees, inventory and things like that. This project might not be done for a couple of months still, but it was really cool to choose a project that was both valuable to my team and also something that is also really exciting for me.

About the author

Maize Rosenheimer