International Volunteer Week: Intern insights

Here at Kiva, we love to celebrate our interns and the meaningful work that they accomplish every day. And International Volunteer Week is a great opportunity to do just that! 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 learn what it's like to be an intern at Kiva. Interested in growing with Kiva? Check out our professional development opportunities here

Avdeep Dhillon 

Impact Investing Team, San Francisco office 

Avdeep in front of our currency wall in the San Francisco office

What led you to Kiva? 

I found out about Kiva through a career panel hosted at UC Berkeley where Dubem, one of the staff on the Development Team, represented Kiva. I thought Kiva’s work sounded really great, so went home and researched more. I was hooked. During my research, I found out we had an internship program, and so I immediately decided to apply. Things went well, and here I am!

Tell us about your favorite Kiva moment.

Everything has been amazing. I've had so many different moments that I've actually started a Google Doc to write about all my favorite kiva moments. For example, last week I had scheduled a one on one meeting with my boss, but he had accidentally double booked it with his haircut. So I ended up having a really productive work meeting with Carlos (my boss) in the middle of the Kiva office, while he was getting a haircut by our office manager, Verlance. Everyone else at Kiva kept coming up to us, laughing at Carlos and taking pictures of us three. I think that moment really encompassed Kiva’s culture. We really are a big happy family here.

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

Overall, the work I'm doing with Kiva, has given me all sorts of experience, not only in finance and impact investing, but also in project development through the crowd vetting. My boss has also served as an incredible mentor. He always pushes us to conduct coffee chats and informs us about several networking events and professional development events. He also takes his time out to go over potential next career steps for me. In general, Kivans are really great about helping you with your professional development. Everybody that I've reached out to has been really responsive, approachable and helpful.

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

I just want to say, I think the internship would exceed your expectations and it's a truly amazing experience. The projects that you get to work on are very much responsibilities that full-time staff would handle. You definitely get a ton of amazing work experience and gain really great friends and mentors along the way.


Kevin Wright

Kiva U.S. Team, New York City office

Kevin enjoys free coffee in our New York City office

What led you to Kiva?

I've been lending on Kiva since 2012. What led me to Kiva was hearing about a farmer somewhere in South America. I saw his story written on the side of a trash can at Whole Foods while getting coffee. I thought that was really cool and sustainable and seemed like a Grassroots way of promoting International Development. So, I started lending on Kiva shortly after. I realized that, while studying Finance, I wanted to concurrently get involved in something that has an impactful reach that also combined with my passion for entrepreneurship. I realized that there are many people who are probably smarter than me and are willing to work harder than me, who don’t have those same opportunities.

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

I am currently working in real estate finance, which is the industry I’ve been involved in for several years now. I’m interested in starting my own entrepreneurial endeavors in that field. I’m not necessarily using this internship as a way to enter a career in nonprofit but, I want this take this experience to be able to be instrumental and impactful in this space. This work has a certain value and impact that resonates with me in a way that says “I need to be a part of what’s going on here”.

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

I’ve learned about a lot about the details of how we operate in New York. Kiva Protocol has also caught my attention. I also learned about how there is such a vision for growth within the U.S. It was surprising to me back in 2015 that Kiva was operating in the U.S. I was a part of the crowd that wondered why we would need to exist here. Now, as I see it from the inside, there is a real need for it, and for a lot more of it.

What makes working at Kiva unique?

Kiva is something that most people still don’t know much about and are all still surprised by the idea of it. It’s a positive and supportive environment. Everyone is focused on making good things happen and not sweating the small stuff. We are not glued to one exact process or format.


Katherine Kelter 

Corporate Engagement Team, San Francisco office

Katherine with our office pup, Ninja

What led you to Kiva?

I read a book in college called The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz. It really inspired me to dedicate my senior thesis to development in Tanzania through impact investment/ microfinance. Kiva came up in a lot of my research and I realized how impactful it can be when done well. I spent three months this fall working with a small foundation in Tanzania doing microfinance and applied for the internship with the hopes of being able to learn more from a global leader in the industry.

What project have you most enjoyed working on so far?

The project I’m working on right now. I am helping to create a microsite for the strategic development and partnerships team. What many people don’t know is that there are actually a number of ways corporations, small business and foundations can partner with Kiva. Our team is working on gathering all of that information and making it externally accessible on our website. The goal is to give people a better idea of what options are available, like employee and customer engagement campaigns. It is going to be really exciting to see it launch.

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

I actually didn't know much about my team before coming in. I assumed that most of Kiva’s revenue came from the online donations and tips, but learned that makes up for just 70%. The other 30% comes from our corporate partnerships. It’s exciting to see different employee and customer engagement campaigns we do with other companies. For example, we just launched an employee engagement campaign with Eventbrite, and I got to go to their office and attend their campaign launch. It was great to get to work so closely on this campaign and witness their employees become as excited about Kiva as we are.

What are you looking forward to in the last half of your experience?

One really cool program that Kiva has is the opportunity for interns to shadow different teams. Next week I am going to be shadowing the Investments team, which is great because what they do is something I am interested in doing in the future. I am excited to learn more about the projects that some of the other interns on the Investments team are working on, such as the “Direct to Social Enterprise” program.


Eli Hodgson

Community Support Team, Portland office

Eli poses in front of Portland office decor

What project have you most enjoyed working on so far?

On the Community Support team, I’ve really enjoyed organizing and facilitating our team meetings. I usually invite guest speakers to our meetings, and to do so, I have to reach out the people on different teams at Kiva. This part of my job is interesting because I get to connect with people and teams that I haven't been in as much contact with. I also see it as an opportunity to introduce other people to someone that I might personally find extremely fascinating.

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

Other than everything, one surprising thing that I have learned is just how big the Kiva U.S. program is. Before, when I would describe Kiva to people, I found myself saying things like, Kiva allows you to lend to people in other countries who don’t have access to credit. I would always leave out the fact that Kiva is very much present and impactful here in the U.S. My biggest realization is knowing how big of a role Kiva plays here at home.

What are you looking forward to in the last half of your experience?

I’m looking forward to pushing my comfort zone more. After being in the internship for a couple of months, you may find yourself settling in by having certain people that you talk to and engage with. I hope to continue to expand beyond that by not allowing myself to become too comfortable. I’m also looking forward to developing career wise through future intern workshops planned for the second half.

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

Lean in! Lean into discomfort. Coming from New Hampshire and not knowing where I was going to live, or what job I was going to work outside of Kiva, I learned the importance of trusting in people and trusting in the way life unfolds. Once you're in a position of understanding that things aren't going your way, with time, you will learn what is necessary to be able to adapt. Leaning into discomfort is the most important thing.

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.