Work-Life Balance at the Intersection of Parenthood & a Part-time MBA

     

“Sometimes you hear that people who don't have children aren’t understanding, but at Haas, I felt like it was the exact opposite…”

Celia Carter: Graduation

Starting the Berkeley Evening & Weekend MBA, Celia Carter was already a working parent, enrolling in a business program that would fit with her existing family routines and work schedule. Then in her second semester, Celia and her wife Sierra were selected to adopt a new baby – and he was on his way early! Their growing family embraced the opportunity, and despite time and location challenges, Celia worked with professors and peers at Haas to manage her workload through the end of the semester.

Everybody understands: we’re all in the position of juggling work-life balance,” Celia says. “There’s a deep understanding of pitching in, and I think people are especially sensitive to those who have kids.” Whether its an unexpected event or a simple schedule change, when Celia needs to prioritize her family, she is grateful to find professors and classmates willing to shift and adapt to support each other.

With a new baby on the way and her wife enrolled in graduate school, Sierra remembers the uncertainty of that time and was relieved by the support. “I was stressed for her about what would happen with her classes, but everything worked out in the end with a little extra work for Celia.”

Getting started at Haas, Celia chose weekend courses, so she could be at home with her family on weeknights. “Evenings are the time when we’re together and do bedtime routines. That was something that I carved out and said, ‘Okay, I need to be available,’” Celia says. Still, it took some adjusting to let go of favorite weekend routines, like her son’s soccer games and her beloved Cal football.

Part-time MBA Student Celia Carter at home with family

“I always tell people that the biggest thing is to find a schedule that works for you.”

For Sierra, as a wife and co-parent with a graduate student, the school adjustment was a shift, although not a jarring as anticipated. She continued taking the day-to-day lead with parenting their young sons while Celia was in classes or traveling for work. They made a conscious effort to be smart about how they used free time and travel. “It was harder to find those moments to connect,” says Sierra. “But despite that, I would say we did well with planning and enjoying times when we could all be together more.”

Her family settled into new rhythms, and Celia continued to craft each semester’s schedule to be best fit their evolving schedules and needs. “I always tell people that the biggest thing is to find a schedule that works for you,” Celia says.

Celia’s commitments also extend to the campus community. “As a woman of color, it was important to me that the school be focused on and improving diversity,” Celia says. This was a key element in her selecting an MBA program. From her experience as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, she was encouraged by the existing commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus.

Part-time MBA student Celiz Carter studying

“As a woman of color, it was important to me that the school be focused on and improving diversity.”

In addition, Celia was further assured when the business school newly appointed a Director of Diversity to implement programs and initiatives to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion at Berkeley-Haas. The scope of the position includes everything from considering the demographics of the students and faculty to reviewing the textbooks and case studies that they use.

Once enrolled, Celia was quickly involved on campus. A recipient of the Dean’s Fellowship, she was Vice President of Diversity for the Evening & Weekend MBA Association in her first year. In that role, she led several initiatives, including a weekend-long diversity workshop that explored issues with current students and alumni.  Today, she continues advocating for increased diversity at Haas.

While in school, Celia has continued working in healthcare technology at Genentech. She recently took on a more advanced position, thanks in part to her MBA experience. With skills honed in her coursework, Celia was an ideal candidate for a position that connected her passions for emerging technologies and innovative entrepreneurship. “I had all these related case studies happening at Haas, as I was interviewing for the job at Genentech,” Celia says. “It was nice to have fresh examples from real companies.”

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In Haas tradition, Celia walked at graduation with her two young children at her side in May 2016. Her extended family, who are especially proud of her advanced degree, were in the stadium cheering for her. For Celia, completing her second degree at UC Berkeley leaves her feeling fulfilled and nostalgic. She is already thinking about how to continue her involvement on campus.

“Now that I'm graduating, I'm really interested in doing good for the greater society,” Celia says. “I want to put my free time into more social change opportunities.”

“Now that I'm graduating, I'm really interested in doing good for the greater society.”

Berkeley MBA student Celia Carter at graduation with her children

In addition to staying involved with campus diversity, Celia looks forward to enjoying more time with her family, as well as time for those favorite Saturday sports. “When I entered the part-time MBA program, I was exploring my options… Today, I’m happy with where I’m at and continuing to advance in my career.”

Learn more about the  Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program

About The Author

Eileen is Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She enjoys meeting prospective students and helping them explore the benefits of an MBA, and hopes these blog posts provide valuable insight into the Berkeley MBA experience.