Can a part-time MBA help you change careers? Ask Yi Lin Pei.

By Eileen Jacob

Although there are people who attend part-time MBA programs to advance along their current career trajectories, there are some people who attend business school to find their true career path—like Yi Lin Pei.

Before enrolling in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley Haas MBA Program, Yi Lin worked as a civil engineer at a consulting company. She made a significant pivot in her career and now works as a marketing manager for Autodesk. 

Discovering her true passion: A love for storytelling

"While I really enjoyed all aspects of my job, the part I enjoyed most was storytelling. I decided I wanted to explore that more deeply, so I came to Haas to learn about where that career path could lead me," says Yi Lin.

It is a common misconception that everyone who enrolls in an MBA program does so with a specific career plan in mind, but Yi Lin learned that she wasn't the only one who was still trying to figure it out. "From my experience with classmates, I saw that few people have a true idea of what they want to do," she says.

Six months into the program, Yi Lin took her first marketing class, and everything clicked for her. She realized that marketing requires storytelling and creativity as well as a strong handle on data and analytics to determine whether or not creative efforts actually make a real impact.

"I felt that was a great way to combine both the left side and my right side of my brain," she says.

Using an MBA internship to gain experience

Yi Lin quit her engineering job to focus on landing a marketing internship, but after getting rejected by all the big companies, she knew she needed to find a way to stand out among other applicants.

"I wasn't emphasizing my competitive advantage over others," she says.

After reflecting on her experience, she determined that her competitive advantage was her people skills. She emphasized those skills during interviews and switched her focus to global companies that would appreciate the fact that she had lived in many different countries while growing up. Her new approach landed her an internship at Nestle.

Making a second pivot to tech marketing

"Right after my internship at Nestle, I realized I love marketing, but also missed tech. I decided to do pivot number two," she says.

Yi Lin began targeting companies where she had a competitive advantage and made the switch from CPG marketing to tech marketing. Autodesk was one of her top choices based on her experiences with AutoCAD.

"The next thing for me was to identify people who worked at Autodesk because, through experience, I found out that a referral is about 100 times more powerful than an online application," she says.

Yi Lin got a referral from a classmate, who happened to work at Autodesk, and landed her first interview.

Getting a job offer

After three interviews at Autodesk, Yi Lin determined that, once again, she needed to do something extra to get the job offer she was looking for. She decided to demonstrate her ability to implement marketing content through video productions.

With the help of her friends, she produced a sample marketing video for an AutoCAD product. Two weeks later, she got an offer letter from Autodesk for a job in the marketing department. The video had made an impression

"It was a big differentiating factor. They chose me because of that," she says.

Relying on the MBA network

The support Yi Lin received from classmates, alumni, and the Career Management Group (CMG) turned out to be one of the best values of the MBA program.

"When I was prepping for my interview at Autodesk, there was an alumni who practiced with me for every stage of the interview," she says. "I also had classmates who were going through the same process with me. They would practice with me, and we would check up on each other to see how we were doing. I never felt alone in that process."

Yi Lin credits the Career Management Group with helping her find her sweet spot through behavioral interview practice and strategy questions.

"I would not be where I am without the help of the CMG. I really mean it. Even from day one, when I was prepping, they were there to help me," she says.

Can a part-time MBA help you change careers and find even more fulfilling work? Yi Lin Pei found her true career path with the help of a Berkeley MBA, and we can help you with our Five Steps Toward Making Your Next Career Move.

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Posted on August 9, 2017
Themes: Evening & Weekend  |   Career
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.