Student Perspectives

Student Perspective

Jose Avalos

Jose Avalos

MBA 21


Determine what matters most to you and go for that.

Being a first-generation Mexican American raised by a single mother, I became a bilingual teacher to give other kids like me a better start. But my impact was limited to the number of students in my classroom. I want to have a more macro social impact in my career.

I want to be able to fluently navigate both the business and the nonprofit worlds. There is a lot of overlap, and work with social value isn’t limited to nonprofits. With my new toolkit, I can give back in a social impact role in a big firm, a start-up, or a nonprofit. In the next couple of years, I plan on working within Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team to provide grants to impactful nonprofits.

My 10-year plan is to start my own nonprofit in the education sector, promoting financial literacy among middle- and high-school students of color.

The value of fluency and authenticity

I don’t want to go into finance, but I figure if I have an MBA, I need to be fluent in that language, so I took lots of finance electives, like Corporate Finance, Designing Financial Models that Work, and Financial Statement Modeling for Finance Careers.

Keeping in mind my 10-year plan, Social Impact Strategy, taught by Ben Mangan and Colin Boyle, is terrific. Because there are only about 18 people, everyone gets engaged in the discussions. It is awesome to learn from my fellow students and the guest speakers. They are all inspirational.

Ben Mangan started one class by asking each of us how we’re doing. He emphasized that, even though we hadn’t been able to meet in person, he cared about us all individually. He spoke in raw, emotional terms that were personal and authentic.

A new approach and new skills

I’m looking at problems through a different lens. I was a political junkie, but now I see things from more of a business perspective. I’m more aware of weighing pros and cons of a policy proposal using the analytical tools I learned in business school.

Growing up, I never learned what businesspeople do, how they find and get good jobs. I’ve learned a lot of the basics, from how to tailor your résumé for a specific job description to how to approach people. Things that were new to me, now come naturally.

My background is atypical, coming from a nonprofit (Teach for America) and education background. Because I didn’t have that business repertoire, internships were important for me to dive in and get my hands dirty.

The Consortium and community

It’s hard to find rewarding work if you’re always pursuing a higher income or more prestigious work. Having grown up in a lower-income family, I recognize the need to balance providing for your family and other types of reward.

Being part of the Consortium was a big factor in my satisfaction with Berkeley Haas. The Consortium made it easy to meet people. It offered a built-in network, even before starting classes. Those relationships were reinforced over time and will last a long time.

I also gained work opportunities and financial support from the Consortium. Teachers don’t make a lot of money and my family couldn’t help out with my tuition. Getting a Consortium scholarship eased a lot of financial anxiety.

To hear more about Jose's journey to Haas, check out his interview with Poets&Quants

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