5 Q&As with Those People Who Walk Backwards

You probably know exactly who I’m talking about when I say “those people who walk backwards” — University Ambassadors. For many of you, they were some of the first students you had contact with when you took your tour of the Ohio State University. While you “ooh” and “ahh’-ed” they watched you fall in love and decide that Ohio State would be your home for the next four years.

If you don’t personally know an Ambassador, you may not know anything more than the fact that they give tours of the university.

“But I want to know more!”

Well you’re in luck! I have reached out to my dear friend Holly Yanai and asked her five questions that shed light on the position.


1. How does one get into the art of tour-guiding?

“Great question, Leila! First, one must apply, go through an interview process and be hired. However, just because you are hired does not mean you are ready to lead students throughout the campus. First you have to complete several full days of training where you will be introduced to the various routes, scripts, scenarios and questions that you may encounter on tour. After that you are ready to go through the certification process where you will memorize scripts, shadow two tours, before working your way up to giving a full tour. If the senior ambassador who is evaluating you believes you are ready to move on then you will give a certification tour. You have three chances to successfully complete your certification tour and then, once completed, you will officially be a University Ambassador!”

2. Do you only give tours to incoming freshmen?

“Ambassadors give tours to anyone who wants to sign up for a tour. We give admissions tours for students applying to the university, transfer tours for transfer students, admitted tours for students who have been admitted and even group tours which can be given to anyone who requests a tour whether that be a high school or a new Ohio State employee.”

3. How hard was it the job when you first started?

“When starting the process it was definitely nerve-wracking to talk about my Ohio State experience and to convey all of the facts to the students and their parents. However, it became easier not only because I had memorized my tour over time, but also because the training that we went through was meant to ensure our success. Once I was certified I felt comfortable leading guests around campus. On occasion, there will be a question that I don’t know the answer to or a guest who is not as excited about the visit as I am but there are ways to work around that and make sure that by the end of the tour, their questions are answered and they feel better about Ohio State than before.”

4. What’s your favorite story to tell from becoming an Ambassador?

“Over the summer, about a month after President Drake began his tenure here at Ohio State, I was walking past Bricker Hall and telling my tour group that Bricker Hall houses the offices of the president of the university. I was just telling them about President Drake when I turned the corner and ran right into him. Although slightly embarrassed that I was just talking about him, I turned to say hello and he stopped my tour group and talked with me, the parents and the students for a few minutes. It was awesome because it created a moment that, to me, proved Ohio State is not as large as people make it out to be and that people are always there support you, no matter how high-up their position may be.”

5. Do you have any advice for freshmen at Ohio State?

“I say this so many times on tour and I will say it again here, get involved. Whether a student is involved with Greek Life, a student job, an internship, research or one of our 1,000 student organizations, it is the best way to figure out what you love, meet amazing friends, and discover a home here at the university. My involvement with various organizations and with the Ambassador program is what has made my time at Ohio State memorable and talking about those experiences is what gets the students on tour excited. I promise, even just joining one organization that you are passionate about will impact your Ohio State experience in ways you had not thought possible.”

With that, I’d like to thank Holly and all the other wonderful Ambassadors for helping new Buckeyes find their home.