Inside Experience: As BSED’s Intern During COVID-19

By: Karli Baker | Marketing Intern

Big Sky Economic Development is a powerful resource for growing our region’s economy and improving quality of life, as well as providing tools for business creation, new business recruitment, and community development. For over 30 years we’ve seen what “Building Remarkable” looks like. During a global pandemic, however, we see what it takes for a community to “Build Beyond…”.

I joined the Big Sky Economic Development team in August of 2020, just five short months after schools, churches, and many businesses had to close their doors, and just a few weeks after Governor Steve Bullock issued the state-wide mask mandate.  Fear, frustration, and uncertainty ran rampant through our community, but glimmers of hope and compassion began to shine through the cracks of the turmoil we all were facing.

As I was heading into my senior year at Rocky Mountain College, my glimmer of hope was obtaining an internship that would better equip me for entering the professional world after graduation; a feat many college juniors and seniors were, unfortunately, unable to accomplish due to COVID-19 setbacks.


As an intern at BSED I have had a behind-the-scenes experience of what goes into a remarkable team and the remarkable community it serves. Being in the marketing department has allowed me to work on and present projects for the community that are entertaining, engaging, and uplifting in a time where we need it most. I have had the privilege of sharing with the community a small amount of the remarkability that goes on here at BSED, client success stories, resources for businesses, program accomplishments, team members successes, and the fun organizational culture.

However, my favorite part is being able to show love to some of the best local businesses in our community through sharing stories of local business founders, reposting other businesses’ fun (and often delicious) social media content, or fun promotions with our favorite Sloth, Winston!


Despite the year of social isolation, I have had the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs, founders, and leaders in the community that BSED works closely with. I am a big proponent of the importance of networking to develop professional relationships and skills. What I didn’t realize was how much sitting down to have a conversation with these individuals in the community would change my perspective on doing business, as well as living life to the fullest despite the obstacles we face. With the right mindset and attitude, and compassion and perseverance, an immense setback is an opportunity to build beyond what is imaginable. Our Executive Director Steve Arveschoug said it best in the 2020 Big Sky Economic Development Annual Meeting video, “I didn’t have to say two words beyond ‘our community needs us’ and the team came together.”

Coming from a small, rural town in Montana I have always valued the strength, well-being, and success of the community I am in. Since moving to Billings, I have fallen in love with this community and cherish the small-town heart and soul that it maintains, despite being the largest city in Montana.  I am fortunate to be a part of an organization that works to support the community that brings out those glimmers of hope and compassion during immense hardship. When you put a handful of incredible individuals in an office building and tell them to collaborate with a close-knit, supportive community like Billings, you are going to see remarkable results.