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Real Humans of the Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2019

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Kathryn Balestreri, Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2019

Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2019Age: 28

Hometown: Monterey, CA

Undergraduate Institution and Major: Northwestern University, social Policy and Spanish

Pre-MBA Work Experience: Five years in nonprofit/education research and technical assistance

Why business school? Why now? My career in education began in the classroom as an instructional coach. What fueled my passion in this role was the thought that I might be able to improve outcomes for more students by working with educators than I could by teaching in one classroom alone. Over time, this call to greater service sparked my interest in internal team leadership and management. I hope to use my MBA to grow as a leader in this field.

Why Haas? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? I realized when I attended Days at Haas that the defining principles were apparent in every interaction I had with alumni, current students, and the admissions team. I found myself thinking: “I absolutely need to be a part of this community.”

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2019? Likely the result of working in education, I always aim to be extremely nurturing in my relationships. In this way, I hope to be able to contribute to the confidence and success of my classmates.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? I love experimenting with essential oils and herbs! I make herbal tinctures and herb-infused oils in my free time.

Post-MBA career interests? General management in EdTech

Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2019Advice to current prospective applicants:

 — One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? Talk to peers who have already gone through the process; they can be an excellent resource. If you know someone who is in business school currently, don’t hesitate to reach out to him/her.

The application process can feel exhausting (even emotionally). Knowing that others are able to relate is incredibly energizing.

 — One thing you would change or do differently? Don’t spend so much time on thinking through how to fit a certain mold to get an acceptance. Be your authentic self; in your essays, speak about what’s truly most important to you. Spend the time soul-searching. If you take this approach, you will have a better sense for whether or not there’s a “fit” between you and the school culture. When you get an acceptance, it’s going to feel so good to know that they want the real, raw “you.”

 — Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? I spent too much time studying for the GMAT. It helped to set a date for the test way in advance. Having a deadline in mind kept me disciplined.

Greatest highlight so far at Haas? Building a culture of acceptance and trust in my Leadership Communications lab where classmates take turns sharing personal stories to improve public speaking.

One thing about Haas that you didn’t expect before arriving? FOMO is real. Figuring out “what do I care to participate in most?” is a talk I needed to have with myself right away.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? Finding the time to take advantage of all the incredible opportunities here. Knowing that you can pursue so many different paths coming out of this program is a privilege, but also a lot of responsibility.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year? Investing in friendships. I am amazed by my classmates; they are incredibly good people.