Being a Yale Tour Guide remains one of the most selective student jobs on campus.
Of the 188 people who applied to be a tour guide this year, between 15 and 20 will be accepted, for an admissions rate of 8 to 10 percent. The entire process involves a written application, two rounds of interviews, and a final 90 minute supervised tour. Director of Outreach and Recruitment for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions Mark Dunn said that an ideal guide would be one who can speak authentically and authoritatively about Yale as their current home and as an institution with a long history.
“Our tour guide selection process is considered to be very rigorous in comparison to other universities,” Director of the Yale Visitors Center Nancy Franco said. “We select only freshmen and sophomores because of the time commitment involved in training new guides.”
At the University of California, Berkeley, selected applicants are only expected to participate in a group audition and an individual interview before being chosen.
While the Yale tour guide application still remains very selective, the program has drawn slightly fewer applicants in recent years. In 2010, Admissions Officer Liz Kinsley ’05, who formerly supervised the tour guide program, said that the admissions office generally received more than 200 applicants.
In total, Yale tour guides give approximately 800 tours per semester, which includes both public and private tours from the Visitors Center and Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Dunn noted that the feedback for tour guides is overwhelmingly positive. He added that more than 90 percent of visitors report their visits to Yale as “favorable” or “very favorable,” while many visiting students also say the tour is the favorite part of their visit.
A successful guide is able to both “show” and “tell” in their presentations, using stories and anecdotes to give audiences insight into what it is like to be a student, Dunn said.
“They should also be able to give visitors some interesting historical and architectural facts about the unique spaces they are walking through,” he added.
All of the prospective tour guides interviewed emphasized that they applied for the position because they wanted to tell others about their Yale experiences.
Lauren Sapienza ’18, a tour guide applicant, said that she thought the competitive nature of the job was well worth its reward. Julia Feldstein ’18, another applicant, echoed this sentiment, explaining that the competition did not deter her from applying.
“You can read about any campus online, but hearing the student’s perspective is really special,” Makana Williams ’18 said. “The tour guides at Yale are all people whom I look up to.”
Nine out of 10 students surveyed said that they thought being a tour guide would be a largely enjoyable job. While they all said that they were not interested in applying for the job themselves, they all agreed that the number of people applying for the position was not surprising.
Tour guides are paid $13 per hour.