When starting your au pair journey you may not know what to expect. What do you need to do and, how do you make sure that you are as prepared as possible for this adventure? Here is an outline about possible things that you can do throughout the application process to make it easier for when you arrive.
Pick a destination
The first thing you need to think about when choosing to be an au pair is where do you want to go. This is because not all Au Pair agencies cater to all countries. When making your decision think about; where have I been that I really liked? Is there a country I would like to explore? What are the pros/cons of the country?
It is really important that you know what you’re getting into when going to a particular country. Are there strict rules that need to be followed, is the climate to my liking? For me personally, I would never be able to live in an extremely cold climate, it doesn’t make me happy so that’s an easy choice. Look at youtube channels, or Instagram accounts so you can get a better idea.
What about the food? Yes, food! You need to eat there for a year or maybe longer. After the 3rd or 4th fast-food burger in a week, you’ll probably get bored of it fast (pun intended). Your host parents, and friends that you meet there, will at some point want to go out for dinner with you so you can try the local cuisine. However, if you do not prefer seafood in a predominantly fish-eating country… this may be a problem.
Do your research, it will help you feel more at ease when going and you will feel more prepared for what awaits. Read why I choose to go to America in my F.A.Qs post.
Choose your agency
As I said, not all agencies cater to all countries. There may also be different agencies depending on where you live.
In addition to looking at where they are based, also look at extras. For example; what about health insurance? You might not want to think about it but what if (knocks on wood) you become ill, or are involved in an accident. You don’t want loads of extra costs looming over your head. Do you get support once you arrive in the country? Yes, it’s incredibly exciting, but it’s also a big, enormous step to take on your own. Will there be someone besides your host family to help you? Even if it’s as simple as just being there to lend an ear when you need it.
Eventually, after looking around the internet for a while and meeting an au pair, I decided to go with a company called Cultural Care. I had heard many good stories about them and everything on the website looked very good. They were also very helpful and as soon as I signed up I was invited to a meeting near me where they explained in depth how the process works and I was able to ask all my questions. Content with my choice I continued my journey with them.
Making a profile
I really enjoyed this step! This is where you show your personality and entice host families to pick you. There is a huge list of different sections that need to be filled in. Ranging from hobbies to dietary preferences to driving experience. Try and explain as much as you can, this will help the host family in deciding if you may be a suitable match for the family. This will benefit both parties in the long run.
This is the first impression a host family will see. It is important to use a nice professional-looking photo. Make sure the lighting is good and that you show off your beautiful smile. It should clearly show your face, so use a picture that just shows your face and shoulders. Have a few pictures that you can use and ask family or friends to decide which one may be better. Everyone is always more critical of their own photos than someone else looking at them. Remember that this picture is setting the tone for the rest of your application.
When writing about your hobbies etc try to explain everything as detailed as possible. Show the host family that you really took the time to fill in this application. In the sports section, for example, you could write about what sports you have participated in. But also include which sports you could do with the host children. Try to think from a parents’ point of view. You are going to take care of the children and do activities with them so show them that you can take initiative and think of what you would like to do.
Also, don’t lie about anything. For example, if you have a tattoo, let them know. Don’t be scared that you may not find a host family because of something. They need to accept you for who you are, it goes both ways. If they would prefer someone without piercings or tattoos etc then it’s probably not the right family for you anyway.
Pictures! I generally love taking pictures and having them all around my room so I had a good bank to choose from. When choosing which ones to use, think back to what you have written in your profile. For example, I had just graduated from university, so I added a graduation picture. In the hobbies section, I mentioned that I run a lot, so I added in a picture with one of my medals. Add captions to explain briefly what each photo is about. It adds a little bit of extra information and also shows that you have clearly thought about the application.
Include a picture with your family, this could be your whole extended family or just with your mom and dad with brothers and sisters. Although they may not meet them, it is nice for them to see the bond you have with your family. You are going to be a part of theirs, so family life is important to show.
Also, remember to included some pictures of you with children. That’s the whole reason you are going! It will make a good impression on possible host families if they see you with children.
The intro film. As much as I loved the pictures, this I dreaded. It is highly recommended that you make a short (max 3 mins.) video about yourself so the host families get an even better impression. In this video give a short summary of your profile. If they like the video they will be more inclined to look further into your profile. My recommendation is to include a bit of background information (age, where your live, etc) your hobbies and what you would do with host kids if you were an au pair in your home country. Show the family that you can think of activities to do! The activities that you pick also show your personality. And remember… smile 😀
Matching – Finding a family
Cultural care calls this the matching process, your profile goes online (after it has been checked thoroughly) for all potential host families to see. They will review your profile and reach out to you if they think you may be a good match. The host (usually mom) parents write a quick note about them and then send their profile to you.
When you receive a profile look through it carefully! This may seem so obvious but, you may need to read the profiles 2, sometimes 3 times to really digest all the information. What are the host children like, how many are there, what are the host parents like? One profile I read through looked, okay but everything was written negatively instead of positive. This was the reason for me not to feel at ease with the profile and eventually decline. Try and read between the lines to really understand the personalities of the parents.
When you do have a family profile that you really really like you can accept them. This gives you access to their email address so you can contact them. Write a note back in response to theirs and include what you liked about their profile! This shows that you are interested in and really took the time to go through all of their information. After some successful back and forths, they (or you) will ask to video call to get to know each other even better.
You may feel anxious for your first video call, but that should ease away once you start talking. It’s a good idea to have some questions ready before you start calling. This way you have things to talk about and you can clarify things in their profile. If you don’t understand something in the profile don’t be afraid to ask! That is literally what the video calls are for. It could also be simple questions like, do you eat dinner with the au pair, what do you expect from the relationship between host parents and au pair? You want to be thoroughly informed before making your choice. This also ensures no big surprises when you arrive.
When you and the host family both agree that it will be a good fit one of you will send a match request and the offer needs to accept it. Now you are officially part of the au pair program. Remember to keep in touch with your host family before you go!
If you have any questions comment them below! I’ll be happy to answer them 😀