Inspire – Women of Dartmouth Stories

Finding My Way

Emily Garvin ’11 explores the often uncertain path to fulfillment

As a child, I mostly wanted to be a veterinarian, but I imagined other futures as well – architect, diplomat, spy. I grew up in a small suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. As a teenager applying to college, Dartmouth felt like the right place to find my way. It was small and close-knit, in a quiet, truly beautiful place.

I was able to explore during my time in Hanover. I took classes ranging from Modern Architecture to International Trade to A Century of Images in Spain. I loved these classes – they captured my imagination and interest and it was easy to stay engaged in exciting new topics. Yet, I never felt very comfortable in science or economics, in spite of loving my quantitative classes in high school. I wasn’t used to the feeling of uncertainty or the perception that I couldn’t figure something out if I worked hard enough. I wasn’t confident in my ability to do well in those classes or to create a meaningful, successful career in those disciplines later. I explored other areas with wide-eyed fascination, but some part of me mourned my childhood dream of going into (animal) medicine.

After Dartmouth, I spent some time feeling that my liberal arts training hadn’t been the right choice. I saw friends with technical degrees begin careers that seemed so straightforward, while my own path was blurry. I was a new college graduate without any clue how to navigate the “real world” when a serendipitous and well-timed conversation with Bret Anderson ’05 led me to my first job at The Advisory Board Company. That lucky first job turned into a position in which I could incorporate both qualitative and quantitative elements into my work, a deep interest in healthcare, and a career that I love.

I left The Advisory Board to earn my MBA at Columbia Business School. Since business school, I’ve been a consultant at Boston Consulting Group, working with talented teams to address healthcare companies’ interesting, strategic questions. I’ve really enjoyed helping organizations navigate times of change or crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic we are facing today. Since finding my way, I have found fulfillment to match my childhood veterinary dreams. Though I can’t deny the importance of the years after college in developing the life skills and self-knowledge that come with time and experience, the period of uncertainty that I went through both in and immediately after Dartmouth paved the perfect path that I needed to find my way toward fulfillment. 

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