Intern Spotlight—Bobbi Braaten

BCBSND Public Affairs intern, Bobbi Braaten, works in the Caring Foundation drafting communication materials regarding grant awardees, keeping employees updated on volunteer events and maintaining the Caring Foundation database. Before Bobbi was an intern at BCBSND Caring Foundation, she interned at several other nonprofit organizations. Her interest in nonprofit sector work started through a high school internship. Before her first internship, Bobbi wanted to go to culinary school to become a baker, but all it took was one experience doing nonprofit sector work for Bobbi to have her eureka moment.

Finding the Caring Foundation

Heading into her senior year at MSUM, Bobbi was looking to add more first-hand nonprofit experience to her resume. She was pleasantly surprised to find out that BCBSND had its own private foundation. “I wanted another internship that would give me first-hand experience in a variety of different areas. I was excited to come across the Caring Foundation’s internship post. I knew that this internship would give me valuable insight into much more than just a shallow understanding of foundation work,” Bobbi explains.

Bobbi’s experience at BCBSND

Bobbi started her first week at BCBSND excited to join team blue. She wasn’t nervous to start her new internship, but she did say it was an adjustment to work in a building so large.  “Coming from working at an organization with three full-time staff members, to a place with over 700 employees was an adjustment, but after a while I’ve become more accustomed to the size of the organization. It was amazing to see how such a large company with so many employees can still feel like a small community,” Bobbi says.

Over the course of her internship, Bobbi says she’s learned a lot from her experiences at blue, but the skill she’s advanced the most is her time management and project management skills.

“The biggest skills I’ve built on throughout this internship are my project management capabilities. Being a part of the healthcare industry during COVID-19 has been an experience unlike one I’ve ever had before, and hopefully won’t encounter again,” Bobbi says, “Having to pivot in every sense of the word has taught me a lot about how to prioritize and meet community needs as they arise.”

Working as an intern from home has been an adjustment but Bobbi says the support from BCBSND, and her supervisor have made the transition as smooth as possible.

“The support from BCBSND is inspiring. I’m so grateful I can wake up and continue my work to do good for the community and the Caring Foundation from the comfort of my own home,” Bobbi says, “My supervisor and I continue to stay in touch using Zoom calls and it’s nice to still be able to see each other.”

Making a difference

The BCBSND Caring Foundation was established 30 years ago. Throughout those 30 years they’ve worked to improve the health and well-being of North Dakotans and their communities. Bobbi’s experienced the way the Caring Foundation continues to support those communities.

“What sets the Caring Foundation apart from other foundations is the way it supports organizations across the state and allows BCBSND employees to be a force of change,” Bobbi says, “As a state with strong efforts of volunteerism, it’s important to actively showcase what opportunities are available in the community to volunteer. BCBSND’s Blue&You volunteer program connects so many employees with a lot of different nonprofits around North Dakota.”

Bobbi’s enjoyed her entire time with the Caring Foundation but admits her favorite part of her job is sitting in on meetings with area nonprofits to discuss their hopes for the future and how the Caring Foundation can support those hopes. “As someone who wants to go into development, it’s really special to see talented fundraisers make connections with funders,” Bobbi explains.

Recently, the BCBSND Caring Foundation dedicated $150,000 to nonprofits working to address the COVID-19 pandemic. These Community Crisis Response Grants will directly support nonprofits and communities across the state. Bobbi says being a part of this initiative is truly special.

“I’m honored to be a part of an organization that is rapidly responding to the needs of communities across North Dakota. It’s been an incredible experience to see leadership in the company and the Caring Foundation work tirelessly to identify the needs of organizations and healthcare facilities across the state,” Bobbi says. “This experience has taught me a lot about pivoting in the face of changes and challenges, and I’m so grateful to have gone through it with an amazing team!”

Memories and advice

Bobbi’s most fond memory of her internship is BCBSND’s BlueSquad Games. “One of my favorite memories was the BlueSquad Games. It was incredible seeing all our employees connect for 10 to 15 minutes.”

Having some experience at blue now—Bobbi has a word of advice to future BCBSND interns.

“I’d say meet with as many people in the company as you can. Pick their brains and try to understand how all the gears work together to serve our members.”

Goals and looking to the future

Following Bobbi’s graduation this May, she has her sights set on moving to the Twin Cities this summer and serving a year in AmeriCorps. She spent time in Minneapolis after high school and fell in love with the metro’s nonprofit scene. She hopes to work in fundraising and development.

“My hope is to connect with organizations that mean a lot to me and offer what I can. While nonprofit work can often be exhausting and stressful, there is nothing better than the awe-inspiring feeling of seeing people work together for the greater good.”