In past years, campus tour guides were chosen based on many criteria: stage presence, knowledge of the University and preference for sandwich filling — peanut butter or jelly?
But a new process for choosing tour guides — unveiled at a meeting Tuesday night in Linsly-Chittenden Hall — will introduce another step to make the notoriously difficult hiring system more fair. This new step gives applicants the opportunity to meet with a panel made up of current tour guides and program supervisors before the first round of cuts are made. In the old system, prospective guides could be eliminated based only on their written answers to application questions, whether about their allegiance to Yale or about their sandwich preferences. The rest of the new process will remain unchanged, admissions officers and head tour guides said, and odds for potential applicants remain as slim as ever.
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The changes have been in the works for almost a year, head tour guide Cassie Trujillo ’11 said, but serious discussions began only in September.
“We wanted to make sure we weren’t missing applicants with great potential just because their writing ability didn’t make them stand out,” Trujillo said in an e-mail. “We’re giving them one more opportunity to show us how awesome they are.”
Nine students interviewed who attended the information session Tuesday night expressed a mixture of excitement and anxiety about starting the application process for what are typically the most sought-after jobs on campus. More than 200 students packed the information session, clogging the aisles of Room 101 in LC.
Admissions Officer Liz Kinsley ’05, who supervises the tour guide program, said the application process has not changed much over the years. In the past, aspiring guides were first required to submit written applications, which were assigned a number so a panel of tour guides and supervisors could review them without seeing students’ names. After this review, the panel made initial cuts, without meeting the applicants face-to-face. Two current guides then separately interviewed the rest of the candidates in contention. Those who advanced to the final round gave an audition tour to a group of current guides and supervisors.
The new process is designed to provide candidates with an additional opportunity to show their personality, Trujillo said. Applicants will now be asked to submit their applications in person and to deliver a short introduction, as well as a discussion on pre-determined topic, such as freshman counselors or Master’s Teas, Trujillo said at Tuesday’s meeting.
“This added step will really allow them to flaunt some of the skills essential to tour guiding, not the least of which is public speaking,” Trujillo said in an e-mail to the News.
And if Facebook is any indicator, the panel will be conducting hundreds of interviews over the next few weeks. More than 300 students have expressed their interest in being a tour guide on the social networking site, but Kinsley said this was hardly unusual. The admissions office generally receives more than 200 applications, she said.
“We’ll have to see whether the 300 RSVPs materialize as applicants,” Kinsley said in an e-mail.
The tour guide positions are some of the most competitive on campus, analogous to applying to Yale itself: Fewer than 10 percent of applicants are accepted to the program each year. From the hundreds of applicants each year, only 15 or 20 guides are selected, resulting in the lengthy application process. (Last year, six sophomores and 12 freshmen were selected.) Tour guides also receive a relatively high salary compared to other student workers, at $13 per hour.
Dilah Gomih ’13, for one, cited her tour guide as a major reason she ultimately chose Yale, and said she now hopes to influence others in a similar way. While Gomih said the number of applicants has not fazed her because she is “trying not to worry about it,” other students, such as Sarah Matthes ’13, did not share the same confidence.
“There are a lot of people here, which is certainly a little nerve-wracking,” Matthes said. “But I’m just going to put my best foot forward.”
The preliminary interviews will be conducted for the first time Jan. 22 and 23. Interested students must make an appointment and bring their completed applications to the interview.