All semester, groups of perspective students, flanked by quizzical parents and bored younger siblings, wander around our campus to get personal impressions of Geneseo. During these crucial visits, it is up to a team of 44 volunteer student guides to uphold the college's reputation by informing, entertaining and reassuring future students and their families.
Because of its extreme importance, students interested in becoming tour guides must greet guests in Erwin Hall as lobby hosts for a semester before applying for the job. Applications are typically accepted at the beginning of each semester. Although no new guides were hired this semester, more positions will open in the fall. When students are selected, they receive extensive training before giving tours.
Once hired and trained, each guide is assigned a weekly tour and is also required to work two Saturdays per semester. The tour, which starts at Erwin Hall and ends in the athletic center, typically takes an hour and a half.
Besides giving tours, the guides are required to stay updated on Geneseo's current events and must attend discussion groups with their peers each semester. Senior Sara Rusick and junior Alex Tramposch, student directors of the tour program, are in charge of organizing these events, acting as a liaison between the guides and Kevin Reed, associate director of admissions, who oversees the group.
Rusick has worked in admissions since her freshman year, but is not yet tired of the department.
"I love getting to know the staff… it's hard getting 50 people together as a team, but it's a great challenge," she said.
Likewise, the guides themselves are enthusiastic about their job. While junior Rianna Mayou admitted the job is particularly arduous in bad weather, she enjoys interacting with new people every week.
"I like seeing how excited the families are," she said, noting that parents are usually much more vocal than prospective students.
Personal fulfillment is not the only benefit working as a tour guide offers. Tramposch stated that giving tours helps students to develop effective leadership skills, and is a perfect résumé booster. Additionally, some guides have been presented with alumni networking opportunities within their tour groups. Senior Dan Fenaughty, for example, once made a beneficial contact for his acting career while giving a tour.
Working as a tour guide does have its pitfalls though. Fenaughty cited "negative, judging parents" as the biggest obstacle to a successful tour, saying, "I try to disarm them as much as possible."
Tramposch agreed with Fenaughty, mentioning that it is critical for guides to "learn how to handle a difficult situation."