SOCCER AND SUITS

By Kristian Malinich

As I conclude my time as a student and athlete at DePaul University, I have the opportunity to reflect on the transformative journey I have experienced over the past four years.

My teammates, coaches, close friends, and professors were all the driving forces in helping me grow intellectually, athletically, and most importantly as a respectful young man.

However, this journey was not as simple as I may make it out to be.

Like everyone else, we had our positive moments and, of course, our negative moments but as I write this, all those moments, memories, and experiences start to blend.

Ultimately, presenting an entirely new character that I am proud to develop even further.

Just four very short years ago, I decided to commit to playing soccer at DePaul University.

The recruitment process and the decisions that came with it were extremely challenging.

As someone who unfortunately always thinks too far ahead in the future, I was dependent on making the decision as perfect as I could.

During this process, I had two main goals: first, to place myself at a university that would set me up for success and second, to continue competing in the sport I grew up loving.

I will be honest, DePaul was not on my radar for either of those goals, in fact, I had never even heard of DePaul.

It was not until I attended a recruitment camp for Notre Dame that I was introduced to my now head coach Mark Plotkin, or as we like to call him, Plotty.

His excitement and eagerness to get me to Chicago to see the campus was nothing I had experienced before.

He was a true salesman on DePaul athletics, academics, and Chicago.

Not because he had to be but because he genuinely believed in the program and the future of DePaul Men’s soccer.

However, to contradict my goals, what sold me was not his powerful pitch on academics or athletics, rather, it was his focus on character development.

What I mean is that, yes, we were there to win and have fun, but that wasn’t all that Plotty cared about.

He cares about the development and transformation of his players as respectful and driven young men and that is what I appreciated the most.

Juggling Soccer and Academics

As a student-athlete, it can be extremely difficult to balance our sport and our academic pathways.

But this challenge was exactly what I was looking for when I made the decision to come to DePaul.

I am someone who loves being occupied at every single moment of every single day.

Whether you see that as a positive or negative trait, I felt it was the driving factor in my character development and growth over the past four years.

Having this mindset forced me to diminish all excuses even when I really wanted to make one.

It drove me to excel on the field while playing and introduced me to opportunities within academics that I otherwise would not have found.

The Keeley Center Academy

One of these opportunities presented itself in my sophomore year.

While I was unfortunately struggling on the field and in practice, I felt it was necessary to find something else I found value in.

Through conversations with two of my closest friends and DePaul Soccer alumni, Timmy Iscra and Jacob Seeto, I was introduced to the Keeley Center Academy – a two-year co-curricular program for high potential finance major pursuing careers in banking, capital markets, and investment management. Academy program initiatives were focused on career readiness, professional development, technical competencies, and related work experience.

Their initial introduction and willingness to help in the process is something I will never be able to repay as it introduced me to an unfamiliar career pathway that I quickly began to love.

After fortunately being accepted into the program, I had the opportunity to network and take a variety of academically rigorous courses that introduced several different career paths and prepared me for my summer internship experiences at both Credit Agricole and Société Générale as an Investment Banking Summer Analyst.

By my junior year internship at Société Générale, I knew that what I really wanted to do post undergrad was Investment Banking.

Unfortunately, this career path is extremely difficult to break into and while being fortunate enough to gain the summer experience, I unfortunately did not receive a full-time offer.

While that was a difficult situation, I was determined to find something.

So, I spent most of my winter break networking and leveraging those connections into potential opportunities.

At first, I was unsuccessful.

However, as I returned for my final quarter at DePaul, I was invited to a Keeley Center Academy alumni event that gave me an opportunity to connect with industry professionals.

One of the conversations led to an opportunity at a boutique mergers & acquisitions (M&A) advisory firm called Logisyn Advisors.

After initial firm introductions and multiple interviews, I was fortunate enough to receive a part-time offer as an analyst at the firm.

I was ecstatic with this opportunity because it allowed me to continue developing my passion for Investment Banking while also giving me an opportunity to stay in Chicago.

As a student-athlete, it can be extremely difficult to balance our sport and our academic pathways. But this challenge was exactly what I was looking for when I made the decision to come to DePaul. I am someone who loves being occupied at every single moment of every single day. Whether you see that as a positive or negative trait, I felt it was the driving factor in my character development and growth over the past four years.

A time I’ll cherish forever

When I look back at the last four years at DePaul, I don’t think about the moments on the soccer field or the programs I was a part of, rather, I think about the people involved.

Those who influenced, shaped, encouraged, and helped me grow into a person I am proud to be.

The people, moments, and experiences taught me that life is never one-dimensional. It’s never about how good of an athlete or how smart you are, it’s about being the best possible human you can be.

I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at DePaul and will always cherish these memories for the rest of my life.

I have learned such an incredible amount here and I cannot wait to continuously develop throughout life.

THANK YOU, DEPAUL!!

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