Prospective au-pairs are generally people who want to do something crazy with their lives. They’re people who want to learn another language, people who want to gain some ‘grown-up’ life experience and people who want to see the world. Most of us have either been to university already and want to have something else exciting to put on our CVs, or we’re just about to embark on our endless years of study and want to get a bit of travelling under out belts before we begin.
I fall into the ‘English university graduate who’s having trouble finding a career, has always wanted to live in France and improve their language skills, so why-the-heck not do it now before it’s too late’ category. But whatever your reason, and before you decide that moving to Paris/ Berlin/ a tiny village on the coast of Denmark is the best idea you’ve ever had, make sure you consider the following.
I’ve put together these pages to help any prospective au-pairs out there decide whether the job really is for them – and how to go about getting it in the first place.
Step 1 – How To Become an Au-Pair
There are innumerable websites out there that allow you to create your own profile, search for families and bag your first au pair job, and it can be hard to filter through them when there’s such a lot of choice. First of all – don’t bother with sites that ask you to pay. There’s really no point.
I used the website greataupair.com and used only the free facilities – proof that money doesn’t get you everywhere. You have to take a bit of time to fill out your details and write a bit about who you are and what kind of job you’re looking for – but after that, things pretty much take care of themselves.
Make sure you specify exactly what you do and don’t want to do - if you only want to au pair for an English speaking, one-child family in Rome, WRITE IT DOWN! Don’t waste your time by allowing Flemish speaking families with 13 kids to get in touch. They’ll get their hopes up that they’ve found a hidden treasure, and then you’ll feel awful by having to break the news to them later on.
Login to your account on a daily basis – even if you don’t do anything, prospective families will see that your account is active and will be more likely to contact you. If it looks like you haven’t logged in for days it looks like you’re not really that bothered.
Present yourself well – it doesn’t matter if you’re a metalhead with tattoos up your arms or a lady of your own manor – make sure you upload a friendly looking photo and follow it up by writing about how much you love children. Don’t lie, but do make yourself family friendly.
Step 2 – What to do When a Family Gets in Touch
Use the messaging facility to ask as many questions as you can - really get to know the family’s expectations before you turn around and sign your life away. I almost moved to Germany because the thought of doing craft activities with 2 adorable girls was enough to make my heart melt. And then I remembered that I don’t actually speak any German.
Add the family on Skype – it might be a little scary, but it’s the best way of knowing that they’re really who they say they are! Plus it’s a lot easier to discuss any worries you might have face-to-face.
Be prepared for it to take a while – not everyone will be the perfect family for you and it may take a few weeks until you find someone you’re happy with. Don’t be afraid to turn people down either – after all, they’re the ones having to audition so that you pick them!
Step 3 – Think About It
This is the best advice I can give about being an au pair. Take a step back from the whirlwind of excitement and really think about what it is you’re about to commit to. Take a look at my page about the ‘Need to Know’s of au-pairing to help you decide. And also what it is that I do on a typical day.
And most of all - good luck!