Q/A With Campus Tour Guides

By Madison Gillespie




Spring semester is well underway at the University of Illinois.  At this stage in the collegiate game, there are three things that each and every one of us as students can relate to.  First, there’s the painful reality that sometimes, we have to go to classes in the midst of a blizzard warning with subzero wind gusts threatening to knock us over.  Second, we all have had a time where the “seven midterms, three quizzes, two group projects and a paper due in two days” cliché has turned out to be horrifyingly and completely true (a moment of silence for all of the hours of lost sleep during this time – you will be missed).

And finally, we have all had a moment on campus where we have seen, come into contact with or have gotten stuck behind a cluster of high school upperclassmen and their parents, all wielding orange tote bags.  Whether traversing the quad, passing through the Courtyard Café or standing smack dab in the entrance of ISR’s dining hall, these tour groups can be found pretty much anytime, anywhere.

Talk about a throwback!  The majority of us took at least one of these tours before beginning our college careers.  It’s always nostalgic to see these high schoolers on campus and envision what it felt like to be in their shoes, experiencing UIUC for the very first time.  None of it would be possible, however, without the charisma and expertise of Illinois’ amazing tour guides.  Who else would be able to inform you about basically everything Illini and answer the questions of every parent, all while throwing in jokes and personal stories and walking the duration of the tour backwards?

There is no denying that these tour guides work above and beyond to make the first visits of prospective students unforgettable.  I had the pleasure of interviewing two of our university’s tour guides, both of whom are eager to share their experiences as I-STARs.




Name: Lindsey Buckmore
Year: Senior
Major: Psychology with a minor in Spanish
Tour guide since May 2015


 Q: Why did you decide to become an Illinois tour guide?

 A: “I decided to become a tour guide because I was having trouble finding a summer job back home, so I began to look for jobs in the Champaign-Urbana area.  I figured that I could apply to be an I-STAR (Illinois Student Admissions Representative).  I also realized during the interviewing process how much I love the university and how I wouldn’t want to go to anyplace else.”


Q: What’s your favorite part about being a tour guide?

 A: “I think my favorite part of being a tour guide is when we do the student panel.  Four tour guides will go in front of the presentation and the guests are allowed to ask us whatever they want.  It’s our chance to tell the future students why we love the University of Illinois and why we decided to come here.

“[Another] is being able to give a personal perspective to the students.  I can tell them what not to worry about when they come here or just how to deal with the different things they may be nervous about.”


Q: Do you have any funny, awkward or memorable moments from your tours?  If so, describe them.

 A: “For a memorable moment, I once had a perspective student on tour that wanted to have the exact career path in psychology as me.  I was happy that I was able to give her tips on what she needed to do during college to prepare for it.”


Q: What advice would you give to anyone interested in becoming a tour guide?

 A: “We usually have a ton of applicants every time we hire so becoming a tour guide is not easy, but definitely worth it.  If you really want to be a tour guide, let your love for the university shine through and the interviewers will be able to see that.  It is also a good idea to get involved on campus, being in different clubs and organizations or having different jobs and volunteer or research experiences means that you have a different perspective to bring to the job.”




Name: Nathan Flores
Year: Freshman
Major: Advertising
Tour guide since January


Q: Describe what you do as a tour guide.  Are there any specific parts of your job that you like to do best?

 A: “As a tour guide I’m responsible for a lot.  I give tours, go on panel discussions and answer questions that parents and students have, and I also work in the office of admissions calling admitted students and answering any questions that they have about Illinois.  Overall, this is an extremely satisfying job.”


Q: What’s your favorite part about being a tour guide?

 A: “My favorite part about this job is that it doesn’t really feel like a job.  I get to talk to students and parents about why it is that I love the school I go to.  Ultimately, I am giving them advice and vital information that is going to help them make a decision in whether or not Illinois is the right fit for them.  I don’t go into work saying ‘Today I’m going to convince someone to come to the University of Illinois,’ rather I come in with the mentality of trying my best to help someone.”


Q: Do you have any funny, awkward or memorable moments from your tours?  If so, describe them.

 A: “The funniest memory I have had thus far was actually a few weeks ago.  I had an alumni on my tour that brought her admitted son and the entire time she was just reminiscing about her time at Illinois.  Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable tour because it was fun to talk to her about her experience here.  It was the end of the tour that made [this] memorable for me.  I said something along the lines of ‘Alrighty y’all, this is the end of our tour.  I’ll stick around and answer any last questions or give suggestions for food, but if there aren’t any questions have a great day!’  This lady gave her son a $20 bill and he came up to me saying ‘My mom said thank you and [this] is for KAMS later.’  I could not help but burst out laughing because that is literally the best thing someone told me on a tour.  Of course, I didn’t take the tip because I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to, but the gesture meant everything to me.”


Q: What do you take away most from this experience?  What has being a tour guide taught you?

 A: “Being a tour guide has taught me a lot about campus in general, but more so how to deal with people and how to be a personable person.  Overall I would say that I am a pretty friendly person, but I can say that being an I-STAR has truly taught me what it means to give amazing customer service.  Being a tour guide is a very rewarding job and I’m looking forward to three more years of doing this!”


*Image Sources:

 Header image taken from www.champaigncountyedc.org

 All other images courtesy of Madison Gillespie


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