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Hanna Beckman: Life as a UCSB Tour Guide

Coming in as a Freshman during orientation, I remember the UCSB Tour Guides having a big influence on my understanding of the school. Not only were they able to show me the landmarks of UCSB’s campus, but it was also nice to get a student’s perspective and advice on how to survive at the University.  This week, HerCampus got a chance to talk to Hanna Beckman, a third year UCSB Tour Guide, about her experiences working with tour groups around Isla Vista.

Hanna (Right Middle) with other UCSB Tour Guides at their annual picnic!

HerCampus: How did you hear about becoming a UCSB tour guide?
Hanna: I got an e-mail from a few different sources, like the Honors program and the History department. I actually went to an info session as a Freshman and was way too intimidated to continue with the application process. By the time I was a sophomore, I felt like I was ready and threw my efforts into the application process. 

HC: What do you do as a UCSB tour guide?
Hanna: The veteran tour guides usually give tours to prospective or admitted students and their parents. As a newer tour guide, I mostly give tours to middle school and high school groups to encourage them to consider a future in higher education. A lot of inner city schools have specific programs and clubs that tour campuses around California and give these kids the chance to see what they’re working towards. Another big responsibility is on Spring Insight, which is one day in Spring Quarter when thousands of admitted students come to UCSB for tours and info sessions. We give tours ALL DAY and they are extremely important, because we want to help these students and parents stay informed so they feel prepared to make the right choice for them!

HC: What is one of your best memories as a Tour Guide?
Hanna: Probably giving a tour to an elementary school group. Initially I panicked when I saw how young they were, because I couldn’t help thinking, “These kids don’t even know what college is! I definitely didn’t when I was there age.” I was floored when I asked them what they knew about college, and a few shouted out very prestigious schools. I remember one girl crying out, “I’m going to go to Stanford!” This was really exciting to me because I could see their enthusiasm and interest, which was a big contrast to some of the “Too Cool for School” high school kids who tune out the tour with their iPods and iPhones. These little 3rd and 4th graders listened attentively, and I will never forget at the end of the tour when one of the little girls gave me a BIG hug and thanked me. It gave me an incredible sense of fulfillment. 

HC: What would you say to someone coming to UCSB as a freshmen?
Hanna: This is a really tough question because everyone is different in what they’re looking for from college. Personally, I would hope that everyone who comes here is excited. It’s ok to be nervous (I definitely was!!), but if you are not committed to giving your college experience a sincere effort, then you’re going to find yourself missing out on a lot of great opportunities. Get involved, put yourself out there, and never look back! College is the time to try everything that you were afraid to in High School—be it leadership, sports, or community service. Go to class, do your reading, and get enough SLEEP! You want to leave behind a legacy when you graduate college, not just a transcript. 

HC: What would someone have to do to get involved in the UCSB Tour Guide Program?
Hanna: It’s a competitive position so there are a few steps in the application process. First, I would highly recommend attending an info session given during Winter quarter to see what the responsibilities are. Then, you’ll submit a written application. If your application is selected for the Interview round, you’ll present a brief audition to a few veteran tour guides, who make the final decision. This past year, about 30 new tour guides were selected out of over 150! 

HC: What are some of the benefits of the program?
Hanna: The benefits are endless! You get to learn and practice public speaking, confidence building, and stage presence. It’s also a great resume builder. Future schools or employees will be impressed with the skills you acquire as a tour guide because they know it takes a lot of good qualities. You can also get letters of recommendation from the amazing GTA staff and there are also internship positions available in the Visitor Center. It’s also really cool for nerds like me who get to find out obscure facts about the campus and tell my friends. For example, I have a friend who he claims he picked UCSB over better schools because we have milk on tap in our dining commons… and our Tour Guide Manual actually has this fun fact: Each year, the UCSB dining commons serve 1,092,840 glasses of milk and 40,00 chocolate chip cookies. So of course I had to tell him that!  And last but not least, you get to meet amazing people and make lasting new friends!

HC: Anything else you’d like to say?
Hanna: Basically, I never thought I could be a tour guide… I was terrified of public speaking and didn’t think I had enough confidence for the job. But I knew that I loved people, I loved to learn, and I was passionate about UCSB. It turns out that passion was really the key in becoming a Tour Guide. I’m so glad I decided to take the risk and make an impact on my campus!

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