An au pair is much like a nanny, except it involves rendering your childcare and some household services in another country. Quite often young women attend higher education and work at learning the new country’s language while they attend to the required domestic responsibilities. This is a live-in position, where the au pair is treated as an equal member of the family. This means that you would take your meals with the family, and attend activities with them, as well. You would be allowed your own room in the family house. However, you should read the contract, between the parents and yourself, carefully. Make sure that you agree with all the provisions and requirements.
The basic requirements to become an au pair may vary from country to country and between household to household. Many young women become au pairs in Australia, France, Germany, Finland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Canada. Au pairs are also employed in the U.S., from outside countries. However, au pairs from the U.S. are often prized for their ability as English teachers for the children.
- General age: 17 to 30 years
- Minimal child care experience
- No drug use, smoking is sometimes allowed
- Conversational language abilities, in the country’s spoken language
- Committed to certain period, usually 6 to 12 months
Education and Resume
If you are planning an au pair experience in your future, work at engaging in activities and education that will add to your resume, and so add to your choices of opportunities. Don’t discount the babysitting you have done as childcare experience. However, look for opportunities to volunteer, or work, for childcare at church, recreational facilities and day cares. Take classes in early childcare, ages newborn, toddlers, to age 10. Take a conversational language class of the countries primary language. There are short-term au pair preparedness trainings, which certainly would be of benefit.
A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.
When putting together your resume, start with a list of your experiences, education and any special abilities or skills. Work at phrasing these items in a professional manner. Gather references and include copies with your resume. The more you can offer, the more au pair choices you will have. Remember, your resume is the first introduction you will have to a host family. It is true that you will be working with children, but your resume should not look childish. You are a professional and your resume should reflect that.
Once you have narrowed your choices down for an au pair position, ask a lot of questions. Perhaps you have already read the contract over. Verbally confirm any areas of the contract that you are unsure of, or for which you just want verification. Before heading off to a new country, learn the customs and travel cautions. Get to know as much as you can about the country and area of the host family. It’s always nice to bring something very specific from your country, as a gift to the host family. Disney movies, in English, are great gifts for children.