Alumni Perspectives


Yifan Zhao

Yifan Zhao

MFE 19

Private Market Portfolio Construction Associate
New York, NY

A practical program that emphasizes career over science

You hear new ideas every day on campus.

Finding the right degree and career path

My internship in investment banking after my undergrad degree helped me realize I wanted a career in finance—but doing something more analytical and concrete.

Luckily, it also introduced me to financial engineering and to Berkeley Haas. Talking with classmates, professors, and alumni opened my eyes to lots of opportunities and helped me discover my desired career path.

My job in private equity market construction is not a traditional finance job, which appeals to me. I enjoy working in so many asset classes, from real estate and infrastructure to credit.

Connections and curriculum pay off

I didn’t know a lot about private equity when I saw the KKR listing and applied for my internship. I was impressed when I researched the firm and the sector.

I interviewed with a couple of Berkeley Haas MFE alumni, which made me feel comfortable. This also shows the reach of the program into good companies who want to hire from Berkeley Haas.

Financial Data Science, which is really a class in portfolio optimization, was one of my favorite classes. And one of the most useful in my job.

Diversity adds depth and aids development

The Berkeley Haas MFE program is diverse. I wanted to study among people of different ages and levels of experience in a variety of roles.

That diversity gives the program depth. When we work on teams, we learn as much from our classmates as we do from the professors.

What you learn, who you meet, how you develop as a professional—all of that makes this program super worth it.

Practical program emphasizes career over science

 The Berkeley Haas MFE program is so dynamic. It’s more practical and career-focused than other programs that emphasize science and math.

The courses overlap and build on each other by design. The tools and skills used in one class apply in another. That fluidity is true in the workplace, too.

Classes like Econometrics and Statistics have proven to be very useful in my work.

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