By Baylie Redman

I didn’t know what to expect going into this internship. I didn’t know anything about who the Billings Chamber was, or what they did. All I knew is that they worked with local businesses and got involved in state government. It didn’t take long to realize how much more they do.

Before I get into that, let me introduce myself. My name is Baylie Redman and I am a Media Studies major at MSU Billings. I was born and raised here in Billings and absolutely love living here. Despite that, I used to be one of those people who honestly believed nothing ever happened in Billings. It took me two days at the Chamber to realize I just hadn’t been paying attention.

I have learned a lot about the Chamber these past few weeks and how much they do. With just over 1,200 members, the Billings Chamber of Commerce works with a huge number of businesses within the Billings area. Many local businesses wouldn’t have an advocate in Helena or with the local government without the Chamber. Many of the pro-business changes in the Montana Legislature were advocated for by the Billings Chamber- a big helping hand for businesses large and small whether they are members or not.

The Billings Chamber of Commerce has been playing a big part in our community for over 100 years. The quality effort the Billings Chamber invests goes beyond anything I’ve ever seen. The Chamber is among the top 1% of Chambers in the United States with a 5-star accreditation rating through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And they were recognized in 2015 as the “Chamber of the Year” by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Their work in the Billings community – and nationally – consistently makes Billings a better place to live.

People may not understand the value of working with the Billings Chamber of Commerce. At this point I may fall under the category of “Biased,” but I always see how busy everyone is. I see how many projects are constantly underway and how hard everyone is working. People are always in and out the door heading to local events, meeting up with members, running around the whole state trying to bring people to Billings and improve the economy and the quality of life here. The passion is evident and I’m left boggled as to how I had no clue what went on here before this internship.

When I signed up for an internship, I was ready to go on coffee runs, sit at a desk all day and try to ignore the back-pain of a cramped chair at a tiny desk. But from day one, I’ve been an integral part of this team. I was never given the work no one else wanted to do. Rather, I was given the work they believed I would benefit the most from. My internship with the Billings Chamber has offered me more networking opportunities than I ever thought possible. I’ve worked on projects I never thought an intern would ever get to do, as well as projects that I’m actually passionate about.

I’ve grown from this internship. I’m never given too much to do, and always have enough on my plate. I get out of this internship everything I put into it and then some, which is why I know how valuable being a Chamber Member is. They treat me the same way they treat every one of their members. The Chamber builds me up, and brings me the best opportunities an intern could ask for; they help me make connections with people who could help give me a bright future.

Doing an internship with the Billings Chamber of Commerce was by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, as well as one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had. I’ve learned so much more about my community and everything that goes on here. But most of all, I’ve learned about applying lessons from my classes in ways that I never thought about applying them. I’ve grown so much as a professional in these past few weeks, and it’s all thanks to the people here at the Billings Chamber, who have given more effort toward me than I honestly think most interns will ever get.