BBA 2006 (Economics and Political Science)
University of Iowa Honors Program
As a van stuffed with soccer gear and numerous 15-year-old boys speeds down the highway, M.Ac. student Paul Nylen reaches for another accounting textbook from the passenger seat as he reviews for a test in three days.
This unlikely study spot is typical for Paul as he works as head soccer coach for the Iowa City Alliance Soccer Club, a competitive youth travel team who frequently travels out of state on weekends for tournament play.
“I grew up playing soccer—club, high school, and Olympic Development Program (OPD). When I came to Iowa City during my second semester of my freshman year, my old OPD coach was in town. He contacted me and asked if I had any interest in coaching. I had never considered it until then, but it’s been an outstanding experience.”
As a soccer coach, Paul spends a lot of time with people who are not his age. The players are usually 10 years younger while their parents are at least 10 years older than Paul. But he sees the value in serving as a coach in a game he’s passionate about. He says working with this varied group has helped him become a leader and become very comfortable with public speaking.
Paul’s love of soccer was a contributing factor in returning to the University of Iowa for a graduate degree. He majored in economics and political science, completing an undergraduate degree in 2006, then worked for a manufacturing company in Des Moines, a position that offered opportunities for international travel to Hong Kong and China. He planned to attend graduate school but was undecided about to the area of study. That’s when the soccer field and the field of accounting intersected.
Tom Carroll, lecturer and director of the M.Ac. Program, spends plenty of time on the sidelines of the soccer fields in Iowa City. His children play club soccer and eventually Tom and Paul were introduced. When Tom learned of Paul’s interest in graduate school, he persuaded Paul to consider a Master of Accountancy degree, and soon after, Paul enrolled in the program at the Tippie College of Business.
“Since my undergraduate degree was something other than accounting, I enrolled in a two-year master’s program. This means I take all intermediate accounting courses along with the M.Ac. classes at the same time. It’s the busiest of both worlds.”
Paul considers working as a TA during the summer term one of the shining aspects of the M.Ac Program. He has taught Introduction to Financial Accounting three times a week for two sessions.
“It helps to keep the knowledge fresh in my mind. It forces you hone your technical mechanical skills too,” he says. “And it helps you to connect to the Department of Accounting in another dimension. When you’re a TA, you have office hours, and responsibilities like grading exams and helping people with homework. It’s a different experience than being a student.”
So how does he do it all—a full-time student, TA, and soccer coach with practices three times a week and weekend games? His schedule is loaded, yet he stays organized. He attributes his successful time management to canceling cable and no longer owning a TV.
“It’s amazing how much time it frees up in my day. I still like to watch pro sports, but I just don’t watch them at home.”
Paul has served as a licensed youth soccer coach since 2005. After completing the M.Ac. Program, he will shift his focus from scoring goals to achieving career goals. He will enroll in law school at Marquette University.