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Letters from an Intern: Sarah Klem engages with the Kiva community

Various Kiva volunteers coming together for a happy hour I helped plan and host. Many special people in this photo!

Our second letter comes from Sarah Klem, who just completed a year-long internship at our San Francisco office as an RTP intern. Her next step: heading to India to assist in a mission to set up mental health programming for children.

I am an avid and frantic planner: details and timetables and random directions are constantly swirling around in my head. On the morning of my first day of work at Kiva, I woke up with the vision of the outfit I had picked out the night before: a pair of blue dress pants from my first internship in college that miraculously still fit with a new, striped button-down. I just had to remember my deodorant and get to the Caltrain station on time.

My morning ritual of bleary eyes and powerful caffeination while waiting for the train.


The opportunity to join Kiva came to me the way the nonprofit comes to most diehard Kivans - through the recommendation of a trusted friend. I submitted my application with the hope that those who read it would give me a shot. I was coming from a strong background in mental health research and public health programs -- a few worlds over from Kiva’s focus on microfinance.

Yet, Kiva took a chance on me. Now, after twelve months of diving into everything that makes this nonprofit special, I understand why. Kiva’s vision for the world is one, to be financially inclusive, but two, where all people hold the power to improve their lives. Helping people achieve better physical and mental health is one way to tackle global inequities; giving individuals the opportunity to uplift their lives and their communities with a loan is another.

The Review and Translation team at Kiva offered me the opportunity to fulfill the seemingly vague but necessary requirement of this early stage in my professional life: exploration.

Walking into the office on my first day, I had no idea that over the course of the next year I would learn countless softwares from scratch, build high performing surveys and recommend data-driven program changes, and create reports that would get shared externally on this blog.

I had no idea I would rekindle my love for dance and basketball by starting the first-ever Kiva dance class and joining Kiva’s infamous Ballers basketball team (as well as contributing high energy defense and a few nice three’s to the team’s third championship season).

The Ballers, post-victory and post- serious sweat session.

Lastly, I had no idea I would form such strong relationships with my fellow interns and coworkers. The consistent support of my team and friends at work has kept me grounded through a fairly tumultuous year of early-20s existential crises. I will be forever grateful.

So, now for some unsolicited advice: always seek to actively learn and uproot your perspective.

Various Kiva volunteers coming together for a happy hour I helped plan and host. Many special people in this photo!

From my time at Kiva, I have a stronger understanding of both the inner workings of a global nonprofit working in microfinance and of my value to a team and company. My experience at Kiva has reaffirmed my desire to work in global development and has shown me how a relatively small group of passionate people can help make the world a better place.


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About the author

Sarah Klem

Sarah Klem is the current contractor and former intern for the Review and Translation Team based out of San Francisco. She started at Kiva in January 2019 after graduating from the University of Michigan with a major in Neuroscience and a minor in Global History. She enjoys learning any form of dance she can, listening to Terry Gross on NPR, and trying new cheeses. Sarah hopes to make an impact in global inequity and wishes to serve the communities she works in with culturally-sensitive and evidence-based methods.