Shivank Taksali, DMSB’19, is taking over our Instagram account on Sunday, April 28. As a graduating senior, Taksali was asked to reflect on his time at D’Amore-McKim including global experiences, club involvement, and what he wants his fellow Huskies to keep in mind during their time here.
Q: What did you major in at D’Amore-McKim and why?
I majored in International Business with concentrations in marketing & entrepreneurship with a Chinese minor. I believed that communication is essential in developing the ability to affect lives. Language is an integral component for humans to communicate. So, I felt that pairing my education in international business with studying Mandarin would open up a number of new doors for me across the globe.
Q: Tell us what you have been involved with on campus the last five years.
In the last five years, I have certainly found a sense of belonging in the Entrepreneurs Club. I joined the e-board during my sophomore year during Ben Bungert’s legendary presidency. I was appointed the Director of Marketing and led efforts to strengthen our reach and influence on the student body. After a year abroad, I wanted to channel my energy towards societal impact and that’s when I found NUImpact. I joined the team alongside President Connie E, DMSB’19 and Strategic Director Tallie Hausser, DMSB’19.
I served on both NUImpact and the Entrepreneurs Club e-boards in my last fall semester. I led guided meditations to kick off our weekly board meetings and coached ventures in the Husky Startup Challenge. Lucas Espada, DMSB’23, and Fernanda Lopez, DMSB’22, the co-directors, allocated a slide called ‘Let’s Breathe with Shivank’ for our Saturday boot camps. In my final semester, I wanted to tap into my experience and give back to the community on the Advisory Board of the Women’s Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship.
Q: Where did you go on co-op?
My first co-op was at a Boston-based tech startup called Toast. They had raised their Series B funding when I joined in 2016 and have grown incredibly fast to become a unicorn today (valued by its investors at over $1B). My second co-op took me to Singapore at a global nonprofit called Ashoka. I met incredible entrepreneurs around Southeast Asia while working for this organization. My third and final co-op was at another tech startup in the heart of Boston called ezCater. They power the world’s catering and recently raised $150 million at a $1.25 billion valuation. What do Boston-based unicorns have in common? This guy.
Q: Did you travel abroad? Where did you go and why?
I traveled abroad to mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. I embarked on a dialogue to study Chinese, did a semester of classes at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and completed my second co-op at a global nonprofit in Singapore. I wanted to develop a fact-based worldview and experience the growth in Asia first-hand. I wanted to follow the global economy and witness it through a local lens.
Q: Tell us about Startup Island, your role there and why it’s important to you.
My role at Startup Island is the Head of Community. It’s incredibly important to me because I have the unique opportunity to affect lives. I have been participating in this program along with a plethora of Northeastern students since their first trip ever to Costa Rica in 2016. Three years later, I have led two workshops for 14 college students including Lucas Espada, DMSB’23, Jaison Patel, COE’ 22, and Karan Kishorepuria, DMSB’21, from the Mosaic community.
Q: Reflecting back on your time at D’Amore-McKim, what moment sticks out the most and why?
As a freshman at D’Amore-McKim, I attended an entrepreneurship panel for my co-op class with Esther Chewning featuring speakers like Johnny Fayad, DMSB’17, co-founder of Eat Your Coffee. I really looked up to the panelists and hoped that someday I would be sharing my own experience with first-year students. Last semester, I was able to do exactly that after returning from my year abroad and spoke at a panel for Esther Chewning’s co-op class. This moment really sticks out because it all came full circle.
Q: How does it feel to be a graduating senior? What will you miss the most after you graduate?
It feels really bittersweet – while I am excited for my next chapter, there are a plethora of emotions that come with being a graduating senior. As I approach the transition from college to career, I feel a sense of gratitude reflecting on the learning and growth I was able to achieve in the past five years. I will miss the D’Amore-McKim community the most, including my mentors, professors, and classmates. The student card provides unparalleled advantages in gaining support, mentorship, and resources in building yourself up. I will miss the spaces on campus that offer limitless nuggets of knowledge all within a few miles walking radius.
Q: How has D’Amore-McKim prepared you for the future?
D’Amore-McKim has equipped me with a toolkit to succeed including unmatched learning and growth at my age, mental fortitude through travel and transitions, and an incredibly valuable community of individuals who have paved for way for my journey ahead.
Q: Was there a faculty or staff member who made a lasting impression on your experience here?
Cheryl Mitteness undoubtedly left an impact on me and my growth trajectory. The semester after her entrepreneurial marketing & selling class she created an interactive textbook and included one of my blog posts from Toast as required reading for the promotion chapter. I have an immense level of gratitude for her mentorship, sense of humor, and authenticity.
Q: Was there a fellow student who made a lasting impression on your experience here?
Adit Agrawal, DMSB’22, made a tremendous impression on me during our spring break trip to Costa Rica. He’s an incredibly humble individual who has created a platform called teens4teens to help the youth in India find a place to feel open and safe to discuss mental health issues. He has shown me the power of listening intently and the art of quiet confidence.
Q: What will you be doing after graduation?
After graduation, I will be scaling up my efforts as the Head of Community at Startup Island as well as keeping an eye out for new travel opportunities. I will continue to facilitate meaningful connections among college students and young professionals. I will explore avenues to give back to the D’Amore-McKim community.
Q: What advice would you give to younger Huskies starting this fall?
I would advise younger Huskies starting this fall to embrace the uncertainty of their path. You can’t connect the dots looking forward, only looking backward. Choose courses that really interest you and don’t be afraid to try something outside your field. Hone in on your strengths, follow your talent, and identify your weaknesses. There are plenty of opportunities that will challenge you to grow and be uncomfortable. They won’t find you, you must find them.
Q: What will you be sharing during your takeover?
I will be sharing pictures from co-op, study abroad, of my friends, from graduation, and of memories from the places that made me who I am today.