Part-time MBA ROI: A career change to management consulting

By Eileen Jacob

When Desirae Early, MBA 15, looked at part-time MBA programs, the extensive career resources in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program were an important factor in her decision to enroll at Berkeley-Haas.

She had no idea how important they would prove to be to her ROI. She went from part-time MBA career switcher to entrepreneur back to making a career change—ultimately landing a position with McKinsey & Company.


It’s not that work as a sustainability specialist at Levi Strauss & Co. wasn’t satisfying, but she was curious about what else was out there. Success in a business plan competition with a full-time MBA student prompted the duo to see if they could launch their own enterprise. While she enjoyed that, it wasn’t quite right either. 

“Classmates and recent grads who work in the (consulting) field were so generous with their insights and advice.”

The more this evening and weekend MBA student talked with the Career Management Group (CMG), the more career panels she attended, the more she felt drawn to management consulting.

For Desirae, consulting constituted meaningful work. Interested in exploring what meaningful work means to you? Get our free ebook.

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Her decision made, Desirae jumped into the arduous task of preparing for on-campus recruiting. “I didn’t even know what a case interview was,” she recalls.

It didn’t take her long to learn. CMG’s Jeanne Lew and members of the Haas Consulting Club put her through her paces. “A group of my classmates organized ourselves to practice case studies,” she said. “Classmates and recent grads who work in the field were so generous with their insights and advice.”

The topper may have been Desirae’s experience in Social Sector Solutions, a class in which student teams consult with a nonprofit on a specific issue. Co-led by a former McKinsey director, each team is advised by a McKinsey consultant.

Desirae calls it a “rich experience all the way around. It felt good to help, and I got to test-drive consulting and come away with a portfolio example to show potential employers.”

Potential soon became actual. In Fall 2015, Desirae joined McKinsey & Company as an associate in the Atlanta, Georgia office. “When career doors started opening up, I decided why not try a new city, too? That makes me one more member of the Haas Alumni Network in Atlanta.”

She's found much of what she learned at Berkeley-Haas to be helpful already. Many of my Berkeley MBA classes have been applicable in my role at McKinsey, she says. I used methods taught in Leif Nelson's Marketing Research class to change our approach on a client project. Other skills from marketing, operations, and finance classes are in my mind on a daily basis.

And she's been happy she made the career change. Consulting is very fast-paced, and changes day to day,” she says. One week it might include analysis, problem solving, or even piloting a solution. Getting the client on board with our ideas and proving that a solution works in a short timeframe has been rewarding because you get to see the results and the immediate impact of your work.

Successful career changes: Just one reason people choose the Berkeley MBA. Is the time right for you? Find out in our free ebook Five Signs You're Ready for an MBA.

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Collections: 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.