Students compete to share their love of Yale as campus tour guides

The hottest student job on campus features a huge audience, an expansive workplace, and very challenging odds: 10 to 1 against getting hired, because a lot of people vie for the post.

The Yale Visitor Center and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions recently completed hiring the new class of campus tour guides, a months-long process that winnows the roughly 120 applicants down to 15–20 new hires to replace the senior guides who graduate each year.

The 60 current tour guides recently gathered in a day-long session at the Greenberg Center for final discussions and final voting on each candidate. Applicants must undergo an initial interview, do an audition tour, and then pass a final consensus vote from all the current guides.

The process is steered by Nancy Franco, director of the Yale Visitor Center, and Mark Dunn, director of outreach and recruitment in the Undergraduate Admissions Office. Current student guides are involved in each part of the screening.

“We know it can be a very rigorous process,” says current guide Vivian Wang ’16 of Jonathan Edwards College, “but we really want to be picking the people who love Yale, and are willing to go through this and learn so much information to demonstrate to future Yalies and other visitors why Yale means so much, and hopefully why they might even want to go through this process in the future.”

Selecting a diverse group of new guides that fairly represents the breadth of the Yale experience is a key goal, says guide Ian Spear ’17 of Calhoun College. “We try to pick a group of people who will really be able to portray Yale in the most authentic but also really engaging way to visitors. At the same time we want to demonstrate that there is a diversity of Yale experiences, and to make sure than when we’re choosing our next class of guides that we’re not just looking for the next class of us. We want new guides who are going to bring something new.”

Guide Sarah Solovay ’16 of Davenport College says she was drawn to the job because of her “deep love of Yale and a desire to introduce other people to Yale in a way that I think is honest and shows them how wonderful a place this is — that doesn’t sugar-coat anything … I think Yale is a really incredible place, and so having a tour guide that is telling you the truth and that you respect when they tell you about this place is really important.”