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Real Humans of the UC Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2022

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Christine Yee, Haas MBA Class of 2022

Age: 25
Hometown: Born and raised in New Zealand, immigrated to South San Francisco
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Smith College; BA in Economics, Minor in Statistical and Data Sciences
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Technology consulting (3 years), co-founded fintech startup (2 years)

Why business school? Why now?
With the next billion users joining the digital economy (primarily from developing countries), I believe that investing in these users today is a critical business strategy for every technology firm. I wanted to pursue a dual MBA/MEng to attain my goal of democratizing technology (like the Internet and Cloud) to lower the barrier for entrance to poor entrepreneurs by having access to low-cost infrastructure to scale their business ideas so they can participate in the economy and lift them out of the poverty trap.

I applied to business school now because I wanted to bring my experience into the classroom discussions and I think with Covid-19, we’re seeing that it’s more important than ever to bridge the digital divide. I couldn’t wait!

Why Berkeley Haas? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was interested in becoming a leader in the technology industry and I know tech is such a broad and loaded topic. I felt like Berkeley Haas was one of the few schools that truly had a comprehensive focus on technology. I wanted to take courses with professors and engage with classmates on discussing the ethics and privacy of a largely unregulated industry. I also wanted to learn more about sustainability because cloud data center providers (my prior industry) are committed to moving to renewable energy to power infrastructure and I think that’s an important conversation.

I also wanted to challenge what being a leader means. As I pursue my goals, I wanted to understand the value of different lived experiences and use my power to address barriers, increase access, and drive change for a positive impact. I specifically chose to attend Berkeley Haas because I felt like they had a true commitment to building empathetic leaders focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. I attended the Diversity Symposium in 2018 and I remember leaving that day thinking I could see myself here and felt welcomed in the community. So I applied and here I am!

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
The Class of 2022 is so special. Given the circumstances with COVID-19 and wildfires, I hope to make this the most fun (and safe) experience we possibly can and I’ll do my part to come through for my class in any way that I can.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I love music. In 2019, Spotify told me I listened to 158,693 minutes of music! I actually wrote my MBA essays while listening to a lot of Drake, Juice WRLD, and Kehlani.

Post-MBA career interests?
Still exploring, but I want to combine my interests in economic development and technology and explore strategic roles in technology, startup, and VC space that help bridge the digital divide.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I focused on quality over quantity and initially I was worried that I didn’t apply to enough schools but I feel like I was able to dive deep into each of the schools by talking to current students and alumni.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
Start earlier! I knew I was applying to business school a year out but somehow I still only gave myself a few weeks to put pen to paper. Over the holiday break, I had to lock myself in my home for 2 weeks and write while my family was celebrating the holidays in Vegas.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped the self-doubt. It would have made the experience more bearable and enjoyable. I was still awaiting interview invites and didn’t think I would get one so I put all my application materials under my bed and told myself I’d try again in a few years. Then I had to scramble when I did get an invite. It worked out but I should have believed in myself.

What is your initial impression of Haas’s students/culture/community?
Haas students are very thoughtful and they will go out of their way to help you. I remember when I was preparing for my interview, I messaged a current student for any last-minute advice or tips and she told me to come down to campus and chat, and that helped me be more confident going into my interview.

One thing you have learned about Haas that has surprised you?
Haas is really great at listening and incorporating our feedback quickly. We recently had an exam and it seemed like one of the questions favored males in our class due to the wording around sports and betting. The professor went back and checked the results to see if that was the case and ended up reevaluating that question.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Not everyone in our class has made it to Berkeley yet. I want to make sure I’m still able to meet my classmates whether they are remote or in another cohort at some point in our first year.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’ve lived in the Bay Area for ~10 years now and only crossed the bridge to Berkeley a handful of times. I’m excited to live here now and explore all the amazing local food spots with my classmates.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.