AuPairing 101: Part 1 - How to be an AuPair
f you are just discovering the world of AuPairing, it can seem like a completely new universe. Having been an AuPair myself, I can say that it was one of the most amazing, life-changing experiences of my life. It can be everything you ever dreamed of and more if you know how to create a strong profile, ask the right questions when interviewing families and set firm boundaries.
Although I had an incredible time, I met other AuPairs who were less fortunate. My goal is to create a guide that will allow you to have the most amazing AuPairing experience possible while avoiding as many potential hazards. There are so many different topics I could discuss in regards to being an AuPair so I will be writing several articles focusing on different, crucial areas. As I post them I will link them here and you can always find them by searching for AuPair or clicking on the “Living Abroad” section on the menu.
To begin, I wanted to address HOW to become an AuPair. This initial process includes choosing an AuPairing website, creating a profile and interviewing potential families. To avoid overwhelming you with information, this article will explain which site I used and the steps to create a stand-out profile.
How I Found Families Abroad
There are several different sites that you can use to find AuPairing opportunities abroad. I ended up choosing AuPair World purely because the site had a more organized and clean feel to it. There are several other sites designed to connect AuPairs with families abroad:
Because I do not want to give false information, I will stick to reviewing what my experience was like using AuPair World. If any of you have used these other sites and have some advice or comments, please leave them below so we can all benefit! For anyone using a different site, the questions are fairly similar so I’m sure this article can be helpful.
AuPair World – Steps to Create a Stand-Out Profile
Step 1 – Basic Information
The first page of creating your profile is filling out basic demographic and contact information.
- An important aspect on this page is the Language Question. Here you can input what languages you speak fluently as well as select languages that you have a basic knowledge of. I strongly suggest listing ALL languages you know. If you know a bit of two or three languages, do not be afraid to list them. If you are from a country whose native language is NOT English, but you DO speak English or even a little bit of English, then absolutely put that here.
- Many, many families are looking for AuPairs who can speak to their children in English so that they can begin to learning the language.
On this page it also asks if you have childcare experience. While I am assuming that most people considering a job as an AuPair do have childcare experience, I know that some may not.
- My only comment here would be that if you do not have childcare experience you may want to reconsider your decision to AuPair abroad. I say this because being an AuPair can be difficult even when you do have childcare experience. If you are unsure how to deal with children, play with them, teach them a language, or feed them meals, learning how to do all these things is even harder when there is a language barrier.
Step 2 – Logistical Questions
From here on out the questions require a bit more attention and thought. These are the following questions you will be asked:
- What Countries are you interested in working in? Do you prefer big city, small town, or the country?
- You are free to select as many countries as you like. While this is a nice feature, you may find yourself overwhelmed with too many options. Selecting 1-3 countries is what I would recommend. If you are set on one country then great! This makes that question easy. If you are unsure of what country to choose, check out my article “What to Consider When Choosing a Country to AuPair In” coming soon!
The next set of questions are related to what kind of work you would be willing to do:
- Would you be willing to do housework?
- To be honest, I would just answer “No” to this. From what I have heard from other AuPairs I met, some families take the term “housework” and translate it into “full-time maid.” If you are okay with doing some light clean up, then go ahead and select “Yes”, but when you begin interviewing with families you MUST clarify with them exactly what, if any, clean up duties they are expecting and be clear with them what you are willing to do.
- Are you willing to work in a single parent family?
- I have absolutely nothing against single parent families, but when checking “Yes” to this, be sure and consider what the family life might be like. With only one parent, your hours and duties may be more than in a family with both parents.
- Do you mind if family members smoke?
- I am extremely sensitive to smoke, so this was very important to me. Especially going to a European country where smoking was common, I knew that I needed to be clear that I could not work in a family with members who smoked.
- Are you willing to work with children with special needs?
- Having no experience working with special needs children, I was not comfortable checking “Yes” to this question. I knew that it would be better for both me and the potential special needs child to have someone who was confident in caring for them in whatever ways needed.
- Age range of children you are willing to care for?
- Another very important factor! Each age range will bring with it different kinds of tasks and activities. Babies and toddlers will probably be a lot of diaper changing, feeding, and simple games. As the children get older the tasks could be things like: driving kids to and from school or activities, riding with them on the bus somewhere, helping them with homework, playing games to help them learn a specific language, etc.
NOTE** ALL of these questions should receive deliberate consideration. DO NOT simply mark the answers that you think families will like to see. I promise, you do not have to say yes to everything in order to find a good family. Remember that this could be the experience of a lifetime if you take the time to select the family that is right for YOU.
Really take the time to consider what kind of experience you are looking for and what you think you could live with for 3 months, 6 months or even a year. Maybe you are okay with caring for a newborn baby for a week or two, but an entire year might be exhausting. Really consider the length of time you will be abroad and what kind of experience will be manageable AND enjoyable.
Step 3 – Letter to Family, Introduction
This is where you will be able to actually write about yourself and reflect your personality. Much like in an interview, you want what you put here to stand-out and capture the attention of potential families. In the three different sections of this part, you will want to focus on several things:
Letter to Family/Brief Introduction
- What to include:
- Where you live
- current job/or university
- What you are studying
- Your commitment to finding a family to AuPair with
- Families only want to spend time on a candidate they think is really serious about AuPairing; someone who will respond to messages and be likely to set up a Facetime of Skype call.
- “Hello, my name is Leigh Ann Lindsey and I am a 17-year-old girl from Southern California. I am currently living in California and attending University where I am studying Public Health. I have heard many amazing things about AuPairing and after hours of research, have finally decided to create this profile and look for a family to spend the summer with! I am very excited about this opportunity and am dedicated to finding a match that will be an amazing experience for both parties.
- What to include:
- Your interests
- Any Childcare experience
- What activities you are comfortable doing with children
- Here is where you can really describe yourself, what your interests are and of course your childcare experience. Everyone’s experience with children is different. You can read my example below to get some ideas of what to write. If you babysit, take care of children at your church or maybe help coach a youth team, these are all childcare experience so be sure and include it!
- In my opinion, it is a good idea to include some of your hobbies. Do your best to write about what you enjoy with enthusiasm so that when families are reading your profile they can feel your energy and cheerfulness. Showing that you have a variety of interests makes you more relatable and if any families have similar interests then this can help connect you even quicker!
- “I have many things I am passionate about, a few of which are: sports, photography and baking! I am attending University in Southern California where I am playing soccer for their team on scholarship. I am also a sports photographer for my University, which I love because I am able to see many of the different sports competitions! Lastly, I am a soccer coach for a local soccer club and work with children from the ages of 4-14. Having grown up in a family of 8 children, I am very accustomed to being in large groups of people. My extended family is quite large as well and I frequently care for my younger cousins without adult supervision. I have younger cousins who range in age from 1-10 years old whom I regularly care for. I absolutely adore children and am comfortable with all different kinds of activities: indoor/outdoor games, swimming, crafts, baking, English games, etc. As I have worked with children of all ages in both a professional setting as well as at home, I have a lot of patience and understand how to create a safe, fun AND educational environment.”
Why You Want to be an AuPair
- What to Include:
- Desire to go abroad
- Interest in learning about another culture
- Interest in learning another language
- Interest in sharing your language and culture
- Desire to meet new friends abroad
- Also, it is a good idea to explain that you understand AuPairing may not always be easy, but you feel you will be able to manage living abroad for an extended period of time and working with kids.
- “I have always dreamed of going abroad to Spain. I am in love with the language and very eager to learn Spanish while also exploring your beautiful country! Hopefully, I will be able to learn about your culture, language and traditions while also sharing mine with you and your family. I know that going abroad and living with strangers can be very intimidating, but I am confident that we will be able to communicate our expectations clearly and have an amazing summer together!”
Part 4 – Uploading Pictures
What to Include:
- Photos of you with kids having a good time (I added about 3 photos of me playing with my cousins)
- If you listed any hobbies, add some photos of you doing those activities (I added a photo of me playing soccer)
- A clear, respectable photo of just you (no selfies!)
- You want your photos to support what you have just written. If you said you play sports, or babysit children, or love baking, include photos that confirm those facts about yourself.
- There should be at least one good photo of just you alone set as your MAIN PHOTO. When there are others in the picture it may be hard for families to tell which person you are. You want this photo to be one that was taken by someone else of you in a modest outfit, with your face clearly portrayed.
The process of creating a profile can be a bit overwhelming Especially when there is so much information you need to provide. I hope that this guide has helped you. Please feel free to use pieces of my example paragraphs in your profiles if they are true for you as well. Hopefully, my examples can get the creative juices flowing and give you some ideas of what you can write about yourself.
I had probably over 100 families contacting me within a few days so I am confident that my profile was effective. Now that you have your profile made it’s time to start searching for families! I have several articles planned for this AuPairing 101 series. Part 2 discusses what factors to consider when choosing a country to be an AuPair in: Part 2 – What to Consider When Choosing a Host Country.
And now, have any of you AuPaired already?? If so when and where and how was your experience? For anyone who is considering AuPairing, what questions or concerns do you have? I would loooove to answer them and share more about my experience 🙂