Becoming a Tour Guide

As a high-schooler, I visited multiple colleges and universities. I did the typical road trip and went to schools where I showed even a remote interest. Each institution usually has an information session where someone talks about the school and shares a plethora of facts and traditions. These sessions were informative, but one thing I would specifically look forward to were the campus tours. This was when I had the chance to imagine myself as a student on campus. I was intrigued by what the tour guides had to say as they navigated us through campus and gave us a glimpse of their college life. There were moments where I almost began imagining myself as a tour guide. After going through the whole college application process, I eventually found my home at Swarthmore.    

During my second semester at Swarthmore, a lot of my friends were hired to work in the Admissions Office as tour guides. I would look on and wave to my friends as I saw them pass Cornell Library. It had been years since I attended my last college tour, but I was so drawn to watching the tour guides lead these groups of prospective students.

It was not until the end of freshman year that my opportunity arose. Never in a million years did I see myself becoming a tour guide; it was just a position I had always secretly admired. However, when I saw the available position pop up on Swarthmore’s job platform, I knew I had to go for it. It was a summer intern position, and the job involved giving two tours a day. I rushed down to 101 S. Chester Road to turn in my working papers and then applied online. Even as I submitted my application, I still wasn’t sure if I was up for the job. I was slightly nervous knowing I would have to lead groups of students and parents. Regardless, I had nothing to lose and I had nothing else lined up for the summer; it was worth it for me to apply.

It was a good thing I went for it because I was eventually offered the position. Swarthmore’s Admissions Office in Parrish Hall is where I was every Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting May 28th. After being out of school for a little over a month, I gave about 50 tours. The first two tours I gave were on Junior Visit Day at the end of May, to a group of about 30 students and parents; it was nerve wracking.  However, after that first morning tour, everything only got better from there.

Summer Interns 2019 (not pictured: Skylar Thoma)

The biggest thing I was hoping to get out of this experience was public speaking skills; this was not something I excelled in. I would shortly learn to fabricate phrases on the spot and have my sentences flow, or make sure I didn’t trail off when I was speaking. Over time, I was able to establish my route, become more comfortable speaking in front of an audience, and most importantly, gain confidence. Now, as I go up to the front of the Admissions Commons, I feel excited to introduce myself. There are days when I have amazing tour groups, and days where tours are harder to get through. It’s powerful to know that I can impact prospective students’ perspectives on the college and help them decide whether a great institution like Swarthmore is a good fit for them.

Summer Interns 2019 (ft. Skylar)

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