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Stern Singles Presents: Devin Hlsarli

Meet our Bachelor of the month, Devin Hlsarli, a JD/MBA graduating this May. Devin grew up splitting his time between Germany and Turkey then moved to the States when he was 14 years old. Last week, I got to chat with him where he shared his unique background, career interests and his worst dating stories…

First question. I’m confused because everyone keeps calling you Devin. And that is not your name on anything. So please explain.

I think I’ve confused and frightened like half of my classmates. So my parents were really indecisive so my full name is actually Marc Devin Hlsarli. My dad picked Marc, my mom picked Dennis and settled on Devin. Pro tip: if you can’t pick your baby’s name, just get divorced right there. But that’s how I ended up going by Devin but professionally I’m usually Marc just because it’s easier.

So confusing! But I’m just going to tell everyone to call you Devin. Okay, so Devin, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Sure. This is also not going to help with the confusion. So I’m an American German Turkish mix. So both my parents are German and Turkish. And they had me in the States and then immediately exported me back to Germany. I grew up in Germany and Turkey then when I was 14, I moved out of my parents’ house and back to the States for boarding school and I’ve been bouncing back and forth ever since. So I used to describe myself as like a failed anchor baby because my entire family is still in Europe. But now I like to consider myself more of an insurance policy. So yeah, that’s me in a nutshell.

After that, I went to GW (George Washington University) for undergrad. I graduated with a major in international politics. I was a rower there. I took a bit of time off to work in a corporate turnaround setting then I got into law school. So I started at NYU Law first and then got really interested in transactional law and figured that the MBA would be a great addition to that and that’s how I ended up at Stern.

Okay, I already have a bunch of questions just from that. So you said you moved to the States when you were 14 which was the same time as when I moved! I also went to boarding school!

Yeah, I went to Choate Rosemary Hall.

Nice. I went there one or two summers in a row actually for summer school. A lot of people when they first meet me, they’re like, oh my god, did you do something bad? Why did you go to boarding school? So how was your boarding school experience? Did you like it?

I loved it. It’s a tough question because I feel like I end up gushing about my boarding school and everybody’s like oh you’ve peaked in high school. But for me it was a great change. I loved the American concept of kind of putting everything into the school, where athletics are part of it, clubs are part of it. In Germany and Turkey it’s not like that at all.

I feel the same way, I’m glad you get it and that I’m not the only weirdo out there. Now, on to NYU. What made you want to be a lawyer? What’s your experience been at Stern so far?

I think that what got me interested in the law in the first place was the fact that it’s one of the few careers where I feel like I can combine a variety of things. One, is my intellectual curiosity in a variety of subjects. Learning law is like learning a new language, and it introduces you to sort of this deeper facet of everything that’s happening around us. So understanding property law helps you explain why some of the inequalities exist to this day and how deeply rooted they are. Constitutional law is super interesting as well. For example, I was in law school when all these confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court were happening and it helped me understand it on a deeper level. At the same time, you get to do a lot of pro bono work. So it’s one of the few careers where you can be financially secure on the one hand but also devote a lot of your time to helping your community and I think that’s what really attracts me to it to this day.

What I loved at Stern…oh, there’s a lot. In terms of classes, I think one class that I am currently enjoying is Developing Managerial Skills with Dolly Chugh. She’s fantastic. Other than class, I loved the Galápagos trip by far. It was such a good time and especially because I didn’t know that many people on the trip so I met some great people like Khalil Romain. Just getting to meet new people and make new friends. I thought that was my first real business school experience where I was like, yeah, this is what business school is all about.

Okay, so we need to get to the point of this article. Who is the right person for you? And what characteristics do you look for in a partner?

I mean there is the laundry list of things that we all know. But I think if I think about it a bit more deeply there are two qualities that come to mind. One, is somebody who’s passionate. I think that is really attractive when somebody talks to you and you can kind of see that glimmer in their eye. It just makes you way more excited for them. The second thing is empathy. What I mean by that is in today’s day and age, there are so many forces that push us to make judgments really quickly and form opinions very quickly about people, about events. Somebody who is able to keep a cooler head and look at things from a more objective view sometimes and question their own first initial judgments really track something that I’m trying to work on. Having somebody who can help you reinforce that or make you better in that sense would be fantastic.

What about deal breakers?

I think the worst thing I’ve ever experienced on a date was somebody who was very disrespectful to their own parents. I think that if somebody is disrespectful to their own family, it just does not bode well for any relationship.

Wait, did you witness that on the actual date?

Yeah, she got a call from one of her parents during the date and just went off on that parent. I’m not going to repeat the words used, but it was extremely disconcerting. And I made my getaway pretty quickly thereafter. It was an extremely awkward experience.

Well, that sounds awful. Would you say that was your worst date? Or do you have a better story than that?

I think the worst I’ve ever had was like one of my first dates in high school ever. I was so poor I was a high school student. I asked out this girl at the time who I was really into, she picked this pizza place and mind you she picked the pizza place. So we go and I’m super excited and then she orders the pizza extravaganza with everything on top of it for like $25 and so my little heart was already breaking a little bit because I could feel my allowance just disappearing. Then the pizza comes and she lifts up the pizza and just scrapes everything off. Then she just ate the toppings only. So I was like, you could have just ordered a salad! Why did you pick this pizza?

Oh my god, that’s bizarre. I really hope there wasn’t a second date after that.

No, no, my wallet could not have afforded that lifestyle.

That’s hilarious. I love that story. Okay, so hopefully that doesn’t happen again. How would your friends describe you?

I think my ideal version would be that I’m fairly empathetic. I’m pretty available for people if they need anything. I also think that they would describe me as goofy. Mad dad jokes. That’s like 98% of my humor. I am very cringeworthy. I think that’s probably the number one thing is that I’m cringeworthy when it comes to humor and I’m sure the Galapagos people can attest to this.

What would you want people to understand about you once they get to know you better?

I’m curious. I’d like to learn new things, and when somebody shares that, I think that’s great. The other side of this is that because of my background, there’s a couple of different facets to me and a couple of different worlds that sometimes collide. So somebody who is curious enough to learn about that and navigate through that, I think those are the people that I gravitate towards in general. A lot of my friend group is like that, who are just generally curious people, both culturally and thematically.

Nice. Okay, so rapid fire questions. What’s your favorite food?

Turkish cuisine.

Is there a Turkish restaurant in Manhattan that you’d recommend?

It is so sad. No, the Turkish restaurants in New York are hot garbage. I can cook Turkish food so if you’re into Turkish food just hit me up and I’ll cook for you.

What’s your favorite way to travel?

Backpacking, like straight up hostels, motorcycle rentals etc.

Dog or cat?


Oh, good. That’s the correct answer. Any guilty pleasures?

The show Vikings. Other guilty pleasures are salt vinegar chips and Irish folk music.

Great! So how can people get in touch with you?

I don’t have a lot of social media. I’ve got LinkedIn and Teams. I got on social media a couple of years ago. In my experience, social media just reinforced all the bad habits and all the insecurities that I had about myself, if that makes sense. It’s like you’re putting your emotions into the broad side of everything that’s happening in society and you’re attaching your emotional state on a daily basis to that or at least I was. So that just made me perpetually a little unhappy.

You’re seeing the highlight reel of everyone else’s life, so I think that comparison can become a little bit toxic after a while. But to anyone who uses social media, I don’t have any judgment or anything. This was a very personal decision.

So if you like what you saw, reach out to Devin on LinkedIn or Teams, or just go old school and stalk him in person.

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