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Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Do you have the desire to travel but lack the means?
Chin up, I might have a solution for you! AU PAIR roughly means: working as a live-in babysitter/mother’s help. The family pays the bills and provides food, as well as some other things (like sim cards, plane tickets, etc.), and you just show up, work, and get paid.
In my case, it was the thing that saved me from being homeless. Phew!
If you’re like me, it might be a shock at first: living with strangers, which happen to be a family with children (OMG!), but once you get used to it, it becomes a pleasure. Not to mention that it helped me get out of the rut I was in: constantly stressed, homeless, directionless, wanting to go places, experience things, and failing for the lack of finances. I bet lots of people can relate.
Money doesn’t solve every problem, but it sure creates a lot.
Being one of the luckless graduates in the UK, I was jumping from friend’s couch to friend’s couch, trying to find any job that would pay the bills, and losing focus of what I really wanted to do: travel.  Being an AU PAIR was the only solution I could think of: it gave me the chance to visit a new country and live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world: Rome.
Finding a job as AU PAIR was easy, painless, and in the end, satisfying.
Granted, it’s a temporary thing, but it sure helps a lot. And it’s an adventure! FINALLY, I didn’t have to stress about paying the bills, and I was even able to save up some money! And even though it’s a notoriously underpaid job, there are exceptions to the rule. I was lucky to find one of those exceptions. Not too bad for a temporary job, eh?

The way I see it, the requirements are the following:
First, you’re ideally in your twenties, although many families would hire women over the age of 30. And if you’re a man don’t think families won’t hire you! Second, you should enjoy being in the company of children. Because, let’s face it, they’ll be the focus of your work for the duration of your stay. Although I’ve come across some gigs that had nothing to do with children. Ahem.
Finally, when you reach your destination and start working, bring an open mind with you. No use ignoring the local culture. Essentially, travelling will give you insights into other realities and the lessons are limitless if you’re brave enough to take a note. Don’t be afraid to dive in and let caution to the business people. You are young and this is the time to explore!

Sites you should sign up for: It’s my favorite one. And it’s incredibly active in the summer! It’s not the best one but I like it. It’s where I found my current job. This one is the most popular, so maybe most families check this one first.

Sites I have not used as much: It seems to be popular and I’ve heard good things about it. Not sure about this one. Let me know if you’ve used it before.

Sites you should avoid at all costs: it just throws spam at you and there’s no way to unsubscribe.

Apart from these sites, you can join some expat forums and find work there! There are tons of places online where you can look if you have the desire and know-how. Let me tell you how I did it: I signed up for all of the above sites and started contacting a dozen families a day. 
It’s a number’s game, so a part of those would answer, some positively. And I didn’t even have much experience or photos with children on my profiles! What drew the families to me were my sunny disposition and excellent manners.
Parents complimented me on how I presented myself!
It turns out that a lot of aupair’s out there can’t even string a sentence together and don’t even bother to read the families’ profiles and requirements. Of course, I read everything before I contacted anyone, and I pimped up my CV a little, adding my Child Psychology module in there.
I’m no nanny extraordinaire, but what parents are looking for are smart, responsible, and caring individuals. If you show them that’s you, you’ve got the job! But before you accept, make sure you’ve covered all your basis. So here are some life-saving tips from me to you:

  • 1.     DO YOUR HOMEWORK: On, there’s this section where you can read about the au pair programs and requirements for every country. Obviously, sometimes you’ll need a specific document, like a visa, to stay and work somewhere for a long period of time. It’s important to know these things.
  • 2.       NARROW DOWN THE SEARCH: I contacted a lot of families from different parts of the world, but then I realized most of it was a waste of their time and mine because what I should have done is decided where I wanted to go first, and then contact them.
  • 3.       BE PROACTIVE: During the period of my last search for an au pair job in Rome (I also chose it because there’s a huge demand for English speakers there), I would write to ten families, get five requests (at least), and do one skype call a day. It took me about a week to find my dream au pair position. Follow my lead and you can have yours!
  • 4.       WAIT FOR THE RIGHT ONE: Trust me, you’ll receive offers and talk to people who will make you wonder if you should settle because the “perfect family” is some kind of a mirage. But you know what? I said no a few times, which of course induced one or two mild panic attacks, but right when I was ready to accept whatever, the perfect job found me. I’m so happy I waited!
  • 5.       SKYPE SKYPE SKYPE: This is vital. Don’t ever accept a job in a foreign country without skyping at least a few times in advance. Make sure the chemistry between you and the child’s mum is good. And maybe try to determine if the dad is a creep or not. Ahem.
  • 6.       HAVE A PLAN IN MIND: At first my plan was just to come to Rome, study Italian, have fun, and save up some money. But as the time passed, I realized I needed something more solid. After all, I’m not going to be an au pair forever! So now that I have my goals and my deadlines, I am more secure and confident in my stay here. 

You’re welcome. And let me know how YOUR search goes! Good luck. :)