Ok, so if you happen to be one of those annoying few people in the world that has never needed a part-time job, there are two things in life you should know:
We’re all insanely jealous of you.
That waitressing gigs you have throughout college never really add up to vault sized savings. At least not in my experience.
Meaning, no, I’ve never frollicked around the world without a financial care.
As much fun as that would be, I picture a sort of Julie Andrews-esque moment, replacing, of course, the musical hills with Dior shopping bags and the Champs Elysées.
One can dream.
So remembering that, after I had made my decision to move abroad, I looked at my bank account, or rather I cringed at my bank account, and knew that anything that was a ‘work but no pay’ option (i.e. any of those, all too common, abroad, exchange, or internship programs with the weirdly expensive pricetags) were definitely out.
I had to do exactly what every college student does after graduating,
I had to look for a job.
That’s just what I did, eventually finding my first one, in France, as an Au Pair.
Many people have asked me how I went about doing this exactly,
so let’s start off with the basics.
There are two different routes you can take to start the job hunting process.
Online job listings
– or –
signing with an Au Pair Agency.
I found my first job via online and there are countless websites for this, but these are the two that I know are legit, either from personal use or from my friends.
As with any online job listing, be wary of anything that asks for money upfront or doesn’t include all sorts of references and background checks for potential employers and au pairs. Sometimes you can choose to pay a small fee to have a sort of ‘golden’ featured type of profile, usually just including more photos you can upload or space to type out interview responses. But if they ever ask you for a mandatory fee upfront, get yo butt outta’ there.
Quite honestly, I didn’t even know agencies existed for this sort of thing until long after I arrived with my job in France. I’m kind of glad for this actually, because I wasn’t fooled into thinking the only legit way was to pay an agency.
Honestly, in my opinion, they don’t seem to be worth the extra money and hassle and I would still pick the online do-it-yourself route.
But, by all means, if you would like the ease of an Au Pair Agency that, for a fee, will do all the searching and work for you, go for it. Many of my friends went through the job process this way and seemed to be fine with them.
Just beware if they try to lure you in by promising better families to work for or the insinuation of instant friends with others that went through the same service, because is just talk. All the au pairs I’ve known who had an agent still ended up in the same kind of positions as us onliners.
After you’re contacted by a potential family, or vice versa, you’ll do several interviews via Skype. This will be for you as much as for them and is so incredibly important to remember that.
Have a list of specific questions lined up to ask them about the job: living arrangements, payment, expenses, language expectations, housework responsibilities, and so forth.
You can check out a post I wrote on that more specifically here.
Don’t be stupid and not meet them “face to face,” on some sort of video chat
You need to make sure you feel comfortable with them, not to mention all the obvious safety reasons, because most first year au pairs live with their host family. Basically, if you don’t want to end up in an awkward situation once you’re sharing a bathroom with these people, just be yourself when you speak with them and make sure you get along fairly well before saying ‘yes’.
You got yourself some employment overseas.
Now it would be on to step 2, the visa stage. Where you have references to obtain, a motivational letter to write, copies of official documents to submit and the endless filling out of other lengthy, lengthy forms.
Keep in mind that there are many many lovely job options available abroad and au pairing is just the one I picked, thus know the most about.
But, if you’re not sure about it, explore!
Don’t get stuck with a job you hate. There are more than enough opportunities for work out there to actually enjoy what you do.
Don’t be fooled to believe otherwise.
Because, like most job hunting, it all just boils down to how much effort and time you’re willing to put into it.
and that kinda goes for everything in life, right?