Why I moved to Minnesota

On January 1st, I announced that my husband and I were quitting our jobs on the Central Coast of California and moving to Minnesota. Californians and Minnesotans alike overwhelmingly responded by asking why would I leave leave the ocean and 70 degrees for long winters and giant mosquitoes?

Let’s go back to the beginning.

I’m a millennial.  There’s no denying it. I’m a collaboration junky and experience driven; I want to have a positive impact on the world and I find slow internet infuriating.

Like many millennials that graduated from liberal arts college in the middle of the recession (2009 to be precise), I found myself in a job market that required 5+ years of experience for internships and a master’s degree for entry level positions.

I had a lot of questions about social change, how to make it stick, and what my role in making the world a better place would be. So I returned to school. I liked learning and I craved a community that would teach and empower me in my undefined vision for my career.

@MIIS Crew

I found that community and experience while pursuing my Master of Public Administration at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) and was fortunate enough to be offered a position on graduation day as a recruiter and enrollment manager. It wasn’t the title that I had envisioned in my quest to be a change agent, but I recognized the steep learning curve I was up against in my green career. Bonus perk, the job came with the world’s BEST boss who let me do a lot of stretch work in my position and helped me grow, both personally and professionally. I was able to really dive into program and experience design, facilitation, evaluation, and so many other skills that I had experimented with in school but had yet to be paid to do.

At the beginning of 2014, I found myself at a plateau in my learning curve that even my responsive and intuitive boss couldn’t help. Like many millennials, I was getting the three year itch. I knew that I needed to take the skills, tools, and experiences from my grad degree and first ‘career girl’ job and apply them in a position that had more measurable impact.

I embarked on my equivalent of a vision quest. I told everyone that would listen the type of environment I crave, the impact I seek to make, and my desire to work in social entrepreneurship. With the help of a supportive “advisory team” of mentors, faculty, colleagues, and peers, I created a personal brand that exemplified my core being and  how I create value. Then I waited, hoping that this would manifest the perfect job.


Shortly thereafter, my bestie–aka my only real tie to Minnesota–was visiting me in California. After a wine-filled Thanksgiving where we dreamed about living in the same city, I began to research Minnesota as an option for a career change.  I was delighted to find that Minnesota is home to an incredible group of nonprofits, entrepreneurs, change makers, storytellers, and a civic ethos that’s off the charts.Tyler Steer

I also stumbled upon the Minnesota Social Impact Center. A brand new startup with big dreams of bringing Impact Hub to the midwest. The best part? They were hiring. When I looked at the position description, I was floored to realize it was ripped right from my career vision board (thanks pinterest). I immediately drafted a cover letter, word-smithed my resume, and sent an email begging to be considered for the position even though the app deadline had passed the two weeks prior.

I don’t think I actually begged but experienced several desperate moments of hitting refresh on my inbox just in case Gmail decided to suddenly not automatically update.

Luckily, I had advocates on the hiring team who championed hiring an ‘outsider’. The Center’s founders realized how my otherness could benefit their growth and our mutual missions.

Two weeks later, I was suddenly leading a startup dedicated to accelerating social impact and catalyzing connection. In my first day I met people who were passionate about food equality and access, youth in social enterprise, women in entrepreneurship, and the greater good for Minnesota. It was intoxicatingly awesome.

Headshots taken at the Social Impact CenterFast forward a few months and I am now an official California transplant falling in love with Minnesota. I can honestly count myself in the lucky 20% of people who are fulfilled in their job. I am inspired by the people that walk through our door every day. The passion our members have to make a difference, the drive to take action, and the cajones to know that collective action takes a community is more than enough motivation. Oh, and my new supervisors are doing a good job at living up to my high expectations left over from my last boss.

This adventure has made me part of a movement growing the good in Minnesota. And that movement is worth trading the sunny coast for the green, flat pastures of the midwest.


Danielle Steer

Danielle Steer

Manager, Operations & Member Services

Walk through the door of the Impact Hub and you will likely be greeted by the candid smile of Danielle Steer, who left California in the middle of winter, lured to the North Star state by a job that “makes her heart sing.” As the new Manager at the Impact Center, Danielle is a marketer, event planner, recruiter, blogger, partner, coffee brewer and organizer. She describes her new job as, “fun, exciting, and an outrageous challenge,” and her eyes completely light up as she says it.