Beyond "Balancing": Ways to Integrate Work, Life, and the Berkeley MBA

By Eileen Jacob

A chess game. A juggling act. A balancing act. There are lots of ways to describe the fine art of keeping your job, home life, and studies all in sync when you’re enrolled in a part-time MBA program—and lots of strategies for doing so.


Yes, it’s challenging. But our students cite improved time management skills and razor-sharp prioritizing among the abilities they gain.

And in the end, they often find it's more about bringing areas of your life together than it is about keeping things separate and balanced.

Bridging the Classroom and the Office
One obvious advantage of the Berkeley Evening & Weekend MBA program is the shortened learning distance between work and school. Arvind Ravishunkar, a corporate strategy manager at Fairchild Semiconductor, is an example. “Being in a part-time program allows me to bridge the gap between the academic world and the real world by applying and adapting what I learn in the classroom to the workplace. That makes the lesson real for me,” he says.Nikole_Thomas_MBA_16

Or as Nikole Thomas, retail business consultant with Chevron, notes, “When I’m in a meeting and people are talking about FIFO and LIFO, I not only know the vocabulary, I understand the concepts and can participate in the conversation. That is an immediate return on investment.”

The knowledge transfer goes the other way, too. Our Evening & Weekend students aren’t shy about bringing their work experiences into the classroom. The diversity here turns the classroom into what Jason 

Jason_Meredith_MBA_16Merideth, Nestlé USA brand manager, calls “an incubator of smart people.” He adds, “As much as I love my job, being on campus is my favorite part of the week. It’s a breath of fresh air. You get to dive deep into strategic conversations with really bright classmates who come at things from a unique perspective.”  

Family Matters
For many of our students, going through the  Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program is a family affair. They’re here, in part, to make a better life for their families. As Orian Williams, sales operations analyst at Thomson Reuters says, “Getting my MBA was a real team decision with my fiancée. Our 16-month-old daughter couldn’t voice her opinion yet, but she’s showing her support by sleeping through the night!” 

We also incorporate families into the program as much as possible. Families join in for picnics, classroom visits, and other celebrations. Todd Brantley, senior commercial lender at First Republic Bank (pictured above with his family), hopes his studies set an example for his daughters, Bronwyn and Avery. “When we visited campus, Bronwyn asked me if she can come here too. 'Absolutely,' I told her, 'absolutely.'”

Peter Chan, finance manager at Apple, has appreciated the opportunity to make his wife part of the experience. “When Banana Republic held a fashion show on campus, my wife was one of the runway models. It was a great way for her to meet my classmates and enjoy a bit of the fun side of the program."

Flexibility and Support from the Program Office
Because your work life can be dynamic, we work with you to adapt your class schedule. Orian experienced this when he switched from weekend classes to evening when his job moved from the South Bay to San Francisco.

What some might call amenities, our students praise as lifesavers. These include the shuttle bus that ferries students from the South Bay to campus and back—and often serves as a rolling study group or an extension of a classroom discussion. On campus back-up child care services can give a student the peace of mind to pay attention class.

Could you balance MBA studies with your life? Learn more about the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.

Learn More 


 We’ve updated this post, first published in January 2015, to keep everything as fresh as possible and to ensure that the links still take you where you want to go.


Eileen Jacob
Eileen was Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals from 2017-2019. She enjoyed 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.