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The Best Job on Campus: Tour Guide

Arguably, some jobs on campus aren’t the best—no one really wants to work the dish line at the dining hall. But some campus jobs are pretty fun! I’ve had several different jobs, working for Catering was probably the least glorious, but I was a freshman. I moved my way up in the world and since then I’ve worked for the Alumni Association (I found some really cool archival material), the English Department (sorting mail is probably my favorite part of this one and the bottomless candy bowl), and the Eck Visitor’s Center (nothing beats giving tours). I’m going to go out on a limb and claim that I have the best job on campus as a tour guide.

You may think that an outdoor job during this very long winter may not be the best, which is a fair assessment, but during every other season, it’s wonderful. It’s a great opportunity to stretch my legs and since I now live off campus, it’s a great way to visit my favorite places a few extra times before I graduate.

A lot of students don’t know it, but there are actually two types of tour guides on campus: admissions guides and visitor’s center guides. Most of you probably received a tour through admissions, which is a great way to get a feel for what life is like as a student. My job is a little bit different. I give every type of tour you can imagine: alumni tours, school tours (from elementary through middle school), church group tours, public tours (anyone who wants a tour during the week), professional development tours, grad student tours, prospective student tours, wedding tours, athletic tours (football recruits, big donors), executive tours (I got to show the creative directors of Under Armor around!), you name it! I love the variety, every tour is different and whether I’m showing lifelong Notre Dame fans around for the first time or alumni for the millionth, the experience is incredible.

Tour sizes vary, sometimes it’s just one family, other times I have 30+ people following me around. The smaller ones are much more intimate and anecdotal, which allows me to share the most influential aspects of my Notre Dame experience, but the energy of a big group, especially on Football Fridays is contagious. My Football Friday tours were a great opportunity to interact with alums, opposing fans (who are always impressed with the campus), and alumni sharing Notre Dame with their families. I have also had the opportunity to fulfill a few lifelong wishes and those tours always remind me just how lucky I am to be a student at Notre Dame.

If you wonder whether giving tours ever gets old, I can tell you that even after two and a half years and giving tours 6 days a week this summer, it doesn’t. I never tire of walking around campus and sharing it with visitors and friends and family.

My job isn’t exclusively giving tours. It could be if that’s all I wanted to do, but I also work at the information desk in the Eck Visitor’s Center. Not quite as much fun as being a tour guide, since a lot of it is answering questions about tours and giving directions, but frequently people will just come and chat with us. Occasionally, I answer the phone for the Alumni Association and the older alums are always thrilled to reminisce and congratulate me for being a student. There was also one day where Lou Holtz’s secretary called asking for Father Hesburgh’s number. I only had a minor freak out, ok let’s be honest, it was beyond fantastic.

So how does one get this magical job you ask? Well if you want to be an admissions tour guide, there’s an application and they contact you if they want to hire you. If you get hired, you have a set time that you guarantee you’re available and they schedule you accordingly. For the Visitor’s Center, there’s an online application available every season and an interview process. If you get hired, you say when you’re available to work and that’s your schedule for the semester. We can pick up private tours if we’re free and we are allowed to accept tips! We are also guaranteed pay for two hours, even though tours usually take less time than that. After being hired to do both, I definitely prefer the Visitor’s Center, but both are great. I just love the variety, set schedule, and flexibility to pick up extra tours if I’m free.

If you have any friends who are tour guides, I definitely recommend you crash one of their tours. Our tours are a little more historical than admissions tours and I guarantee that even the most Notre Dame trivia-savvy students will learn something new. My desire to share my love of Notre Dame was one of the reasons I wanted to become a tour guide, but I also love Notre Dame history. My dad was an admissions tour guide when he went to school here and it was something I always wanted to do when I got to college. Now he asks me Notre Dame trivia questions like: What are the two stone buildings on campus? (It’s Bond Hall and the Library).

Whether you agree with me or not, I do genuinely believe I have the best job on campus. Who else gets paid to walk around their favorite place and talk about it? If you ever want to hop on a tour, we give them at 10:00am and 3:00pm Monday through Friday. Just show up to the Eck Visitor’s Center a few minutes early and let us remind you just how lucky you are to go to Notre Dame.

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Maria Fahs

Notre Dame

Maria is finishing her Masters in English at Notre Dame. She has read many good books and several bad books, but she usually tries not to finish those. Her current favorites are: 1984, The Book Thief, The Tragedy Paper, Code Name Verity, Dr. Copernicus, I Am the Messenger, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and of course, Harry Potter. She is writing her second thesis on Harry Potter, exploring notions of authorship and reader agency in the digital age. She even managed to write her Capstone on British Children's Literature and designed her own Directed Readings Course on Notre Dame history during undergrad. Her favorite way to read is with a mug of tea and scented candles. When she doesn't have her nose stuck in a book, she can be found binging on the BBC (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Merlin [RIP]). Her favorite color is purple, she studied abroad in London, and she enjoys being an amateur painter. She harbors a not-so-secret dream of one day writing a children's book, but until then, she is likely to be found reading them and writing letters whenever she gets a chance. She hopes to teach English or work in a university sharing her love of education.
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