Au Pairing – How to Start your Journey
When the idea of au pairing first popped into my head people around me, including myself, thought I was crazy. Thinking about it now I’d say that it truly is the best kind of crazy. Starting the process is a scary one, I for one was a little unsure if the whole thing was safe or not and was also quite unfamiliar with the processes: what to look for, where to find it, these are all difficult questions in the beginning. However, I found that even having a little insight into starting the process could save countless hours and questions. So, how to become an au pair… first things first!
- Au Pairing Websites – Get Registering
Now, there are plenty of ways to find your perfect host family. Either you can sign up on a few websites, keep an eye out on Facebook pages or speak to a few au pairing agencies that will send you in the right direction. Registering can take some time and even sometimes require you to sign up by paying a small registration fee, this is normal although not always necessary and I opted for the ‘ do it yourself’ option. Although this can be a little more challenging, it is also common, as long as you stay on the right websites you don’t have to much to worry about.
A couple of au pair websites that I have used (and heard of) in the past are listed below for you, but for a more complete list by our editor click here. It doesn’t hurt to register on more than one, in fact it might help you find your perfect family a lot sooner. One website that I loved using the most was Aupairworld.com . The site is user friendly, it takes a few moments to register and asks all the right questions for you to get a better idea as to what the families are like.There are various options, so stick to sites that you have heard about and do a bit of reading up about them online. There are a few options out there, just find what method and site you are comfortable with and start registering!
….why not see our full list of websites in our editor’s latest article on finding a job.
- Your Profile
Your profile is very important, basically it is what you will be selected on so try and be as honest as you possibly can. The information that you will be sharing need to be inviting, truthful and also a little bit interesting. Describe who you are as a person, share a bit of your background, your interests and your experience. It is a little tough but every family wants to get a better idea of who you are as a person. Make your profile stand out above the rest of them. When I was putting together my profile I had a look at some of the other profiles online, read a few if you think it would help give you an idea of how to structure your information. Imagine what you would like to know about someone if they were to move in with you for a year. Keep it short and simple, if they need any other information they will be sure to message you.
When it comes to the images to use, try keep them as recent as you can, also keep to more professional photos, a few face and a full body shots. Keep them appropriate, stay clear of any party pictures where you might be wearing anything a little too revealing or where you might be holding a drink or two. You are trying to make a good impression. Less is more when applying for any position, even for au pairing.
Also be sure to state what conditions you’re are comfortable to work under – if you are ok working with a family that smokes, a single parent or if you are able to work with kids that might have some disabilities, It’s always important to let them know what you are comfortable with and what might be a little bit out of your comfort zone.
- Start Applying!
After you have registered, updated your profile and add a few of your photos, as soon as you are done with that you are ready for one of the most important steps, contacting the families! Go through a few profiles, sooner or later you will start to pick up what kind of families you would prefer working with and which you might not, and to those that you would, send them a message! You are sure to get a few messages in your inbox too so keep an eye out on your mail box. Reply to messages as soon as you can (as a lot of the good families get scooped up quite quickly) and try and get as much information out of them that you would need to see if you would be a good fit for each other or not.
- The Interview Process
I have to admit, I was pretty nervous for my interviews, some families are inviting while others can be a little quiet, (awkward!).After you have spoken to a family try and set up a Skype interview with them. Skype is one of the best ways to get to see and meet with your future host family. You get a better idea as to who they are as a family and they get to know who you are as a person. It’s ok to have multiple interviews with more than one family, if they invite you for a second interview it must mean that they are really interested in having you join them. Get a list together about all the things you would like to know about the family before you start your skype session. Questions like,
- How many kids do they have?
- What would your responsibility be?
- How old are their kids?
- Where would you stay? (Would you be staying in a room in the house or your own apartment?)
- What would your working hours be a day? (Will you be cleaning or only looking after the kids)
- How much pocket money are they able to provide you with?
- Where do they stay?
- What do their kids enjoy?
- Will they provide you with a car?
- Will they be taking you with them on trips?
- How big is your room? Do you have your own bathroom?
- Will they be paying for you to enrol in a french school?
- Do they cover any other costs while on your year’s stay? etc
There are plenty of little things that you can ask them about, so don’t be shy…you need to know what you are getting yourself into. Find out everything before taking the next step. Write it down and make little notes. Keeps the conversation going, you want to know what it is that they will be expecting as do they. It’s up to you to decide what you are able to live with and what you can live without. Know where you stand and come to a mutual agreement. Some families are a bit stingy when it comes to the ‘pocket money’ – read up online about what the minimum wage is for that country and if its enough for you to do little things here or there, you don’t want to end up moving to a country and then not be able to enjoy the little pleasure that it has to offer. If the amount that they offer you is enough for small luxuries, then great! If not, try and negotiate it with them. If the family is serious about you they will try and accommodate you with little changes. Read up about more questions that you can ask your host family – the internet is your friend.
- The Contract
After you have spoken with your family and come to an arrangement, a contract has to be drawn up. This is your number one priority; everything that has been discussed, any changes or things that have been agreed upon needs to be listed in your contract. Make sure that you get your document translated by a certified translator, if need be, and know your contract back to front; this will be your bargaining tool if anything that you have discussed has changed while on your stay. If you are unsure about anything get in contact with your family and sort it out before you start the Visa Process.
- Visa Documents
Applying for your visa is a long process, it can take anything from 2 to 4 weeks in South Africa, so make sure you start your process well in advance. There are different types of visas that you are able to apply for, the one I applied for was the Au Pair visa. The type of documents that you would need can differ from country to country, so be sure to get a list from your closest visa office and get all the documents that you would need from your family before applying. Research is key here, after that it’s just a waiting game but get excited!! You are almost on your way!
If you need any more advise or have any more questions join a few groups online, speak to friends or family that have done it before or (like i did) try and get a hold of someone that is currently doing it (they are easy to find) through their social media pages or websites. I came across a great website called Pink Pangea which offers tips and advise from women working and traveling all over the world. There are so many ways to get the information that you need. All you have to do is look in the right places.