What part-time job includes public speaking and interaction with people from all over the world, history, art, some glamour and prestige, a beautiful setting and quite a bit of exercise?
It’s being a tour guide at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, and management of the state historical monument is looking for some applicants.
On Sept. 20 and 21, Hearst Castle management will sponsor its latest 2019 recruitment workshop at the Visitor Center. The workshop will explain the exam-and-application process toward becoming a guide trainee or Guide 1 at Hearst Castle.
But the people who know the most about the job are the ones who do it, like Silvia Braun of Cayucos, California, who was hired in 2018, and Mary King, who goes by “Mary K.” and who started as a guide in 1968.
Guide for 34 years
King, who was born in San Luis Obispo, Califrornia, and lives in Los Osos, has worked at the Castle for 34 years out of the past half century, taking time out to raise her daughter, who as an adult has also worked at the castle.
“If you’re interested in people, like the indoors, outdoors and art,” being a guide is ideal, she said. “There’s so much you can talk about up here, and share it with everybody else.”
King, 71, recalled that “I fell in love with the Castle when I came up here for my 12th birthday.”
Being a guide was her dream job. She said that, while she was still attending Cal Poly, “I also was a lifeguard at the outdoor pool, and lived in the service wing/barracks” for a time, she said. “The Hearsts were staying at ‘A’ house occasionally.”
“I developed a passion for the place,” King said, which is why, even with her history degree and art minor, she returned to the Castle after her daughter was grown.
King likes all the Castle’s rooms, explaining that “I’m like Cary Grant. Every time he came, he wanted to stay in a different room.”
Braun, 46, had thought for years “it would be so incredible to work at the Castle in some capacity.”
With her background in public speaking — ranging from 4H speech classes in elementary and middle school to being a flight attendant — being a tour guide is second nature.
“No day is the same as any other,” she said. “It’s a job like no other, very fulfilling, not a job that will ever get stagnant. You learn so much incredible history.
“You come in contact with so many different kinds of people, and many of them educate me about things at the Castle, about the collections from Europe where they’ve lived or visited. They enlighten me about areas where things came from.”
The El Salvador native who now lives in Cayucos is bilingual, so she can speak to Spanish-speaking visitors in their own language, as she did recently for a school tour from Monterey County. “That’s very satisfying, to be able to connect on that personal level.”
Applicants for the Guide 1 position must be available weekends, holidays and summertime. Guide 1 pay starts at $20.76 per hour.
The trainee position is entry level and does not require a civil-service exam.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old, but there’s no top cap on the other end of the age range. In fact, the Castle has had longtime guides who were still working there in their 90s.
Most guides make the tours seem effortless, but an incredible amount of research and training goes into creating a good guide.
Working on the hilltop also is great exercise, and guides’ Fitbits are ecstatic. Guides are on their feet, standing and walking for much of their workday, which can include upstairs tours with more than 300 steps and outdoor areas with lots more stairs and steps.
“Go ahead and have dessert,” Braun said. “You’ll work off those calories.”
Formal training — which involves an intense six weeks of classroom-style learning, research and practice of each of the tours — is to begin near the end of February.