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Accountancy major balances business and music

Michael Calibugar shares how he found a love for music while studying accounting

Student Michael Calibugar on a flight of stairs
Michael Calibugar's music can be found on Spotify under the name Michael Cali. (Keeton Holder/DePaul University)
Michael Calibugar, Driehaus College of Business
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Strobel Accountancy
Hometown: Hoffman Estates, IL 

What drew you to accountancy? 

​I love math, and after taking my core courses in business, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

I felt a challenge with accountancy, and I love being challenged. I love to seek the comfort in the discomfort. And my close friends from the Strobel Honors Program really supported me along the way. 

You’re a musician as well as an accountancy major! Tell me about how that has unfolded during your time at DePaul. ​

During covid, I started writing songs and recording them in my bedroom. My sophomore year – my first year on campus – I happened to see a band performing with Sounds of Sheffield. I reached out to the organizer, and my first show was with Sounds of Sheffield in January 2022. 

I also met my producer through one of my friends at DePaul. I made my first song in a professional studio, called “Time Zone,” with him. It was a huge step. It was scary; it was a big investment in my career. And I was able to make it because of the internships I did in accountancy.

Tell us more about that first song you recorded! 

It all started the summer after my sophomore year when I wasn’t able to do an internship because I went home to the Philippines with my family. When I came back to campus, I felt a lot of imposter syndrome. I had to do a lot of self-reflection. 

I’ve done three internships since then. I made “Time Zone” for others who feel imposter syndrome to let them know that you’re never far behind. You’re in your own time zone; you’re on your own life journey. 

What has it been like trying to balance music with your major? ​

It’s been a challenge for sure. But I’ve realized that it’s all about striking a balance between what the world needs from me and what I want to give back to the world.

In terms of what the world needs from me: Accountancy is challenging. Not everyone can do it. And it gives me the flexibility to pursue my passion. 

In terms of what I want to give to the world: Writing music. Performing. Inspiring people.​ Last April, I was a headliner for MFAS, a Filipino-American conference. Right before that, I studied abroad in Japan. It was the perfect example of what that balance looks like in action.  

​What’s next for you?​

I have a job lined up with KPMG in audit, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, after graduation. Accounting has pushed me to the edge a lot of times – but it’s definitely been worth it. 

At the same time, I was able to network with a bunch of musicians, find a producer, do a bunch of shows, and have my friends be part of my journey.

Looking back on the last couple years of your music career, what’s your favorite performance you’ve done? ​​​

We performed at this venue called BookClub Chicago. It was a group of three of us. We brought all our friends. We had three different networks to tap into but, at the same time, a lot of us knew each other from the music scene, from DePaul, from the Filipino diaspora. 

It was my first-ever show outside of DePaul. And we were able to sell out the show. It was magical. It was the first moment where I felt like I was really “doing it.” It was everything I had imagined sitting in my room writing songs during covid. I was sharing my music with people; I had friends and family in the crowd. Through my music, people get to know me for who I really am.

Michael’s music can be found on Spotify under the name Michael Cali. 
Meet more of the class of 2024 here.​​