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.
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.
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.
Fast 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.