I quickly realized I didn’t want to sling shots as a bartender, and I really didn’t want to pick fruit on a farm all day, but I knew I loved kids. So, when I ran into a few girls in Milan who chose to au pair for a year or two after college and absolutely loved it, I started researching like crazy. If you have never heard of the term ‘Au Pair’, it is just a fancy word for a live-in nanny, or an unmarried young adult (usually 18-30) who travels to a foreign country for a certain period of time to live with a host family. In reality, an au pair is a job title with a myriad of definitions; a melting pot of responsibility uniquely defined by each screaming, tearful, messy, happy, beautiful situation.
Here are 7 tips to help you land an Au Pair job down under:
1) Pin the Aussie map
Do some research on Australia if you haven’t already. Find out which city you want to be close to, or live in. Are you longing for the beach bum life, longing for open spaces, or farm to table, hippie vibes? Then maybe a family near Byron Bay is right for you. Or, have you always dreamed of sipping a cold glass of champagne at the Opera Bar overlooking Sydney Harbour after a long day of work? Then Sydney is for you. Maybe Travelette Sophie Saint has inspired you to wander through the graffiti and art-layered walls and winding coffee shops of Melbourne. Whichever experience you want, it is waiting for you in Australia. You get to choose your level of rural, city, sand, beach, etc., and Australia definitely has it all.
2) Create a profile on Au Pair websites
Uncover the LinkedIn of Au Pairing also known as Aupairworld.com. AuPairWorld worked fabulously for me, and it’s one of the world’s leading au pair agencies. I choseAuPairWorld because it allowed me to view family profiles with picture galleries, laid out a specific job description, starting date, and proposed schedule and weekly hours. You can also search across the world, but I found them to have the most relevant searches specifically in Australia.
I spent hours setting up profiles on multiple websites, but AuPairWorld was the only site that didn’t make me pay a cent, while simultaneously connecting me to the most compatible families. Skip the search, and head straight to AuPairWorld.
If you are uncomfortable doing this alone, or can’t spare the time, another option is going through a hosted agency that does all the work of searching and matching for you. These usually cost thousands of dollars, and in my opinion are completely unnecessary. This decision depends on the time and effort you want to put into finding a family all on your own.
3) Start applying and don’t get discouraged
Back when I was on the hunt, I would wake up every morning and rush to my AuPairWorld profile to scan for new families, and see if I had received a message from an interested family. It is disappointing when you don’t get a response from a family you believe is the ‘perfect’ match, but just like life, things usually tend to work out. Being rejected from one family will lead you into the lives of an even better match!
4) Set Skype meetings
There is no better way for both you and the prospective family to meet and greet each other. Skype / video chatting is an ideal way to interview for the position because it adds a personal touch and ‘in-person’ feel for both the kids, parents, and you yourself. I had multiple Skype interviews with the Aussie family I ultimately Au Paired for during the months leading up to my arrival. It was really comforting to meet the crazy, cute kids, see the house, and meet my future house mum and dad face to face.
5) Ask the tough questions about your daily duties / life balance
Au Pairing is a unique job in that every family situation is different. Each family will require a diverse workload dependent on number and age of kids, parent work-schedules, cleaning needs, activity schedules, and other factors. Be sure to carefully read through your proposed duties, hours, pay grade, and schedule.
Questions to include:
- What is my weekend schedule like? Will I be responsible for making any food / watching the kids?
- What is your policy on bringing partners home (male or female)?
- Which chores will I specifically be held accountable for?
- How do you punish your children? How strict will I be expected to act?
- When will I be paid (and how)? Weekly, daily, through cash or direct deposit?
- Will the family pay for your flight over to Australia, or possibly your flight back?
- Am I responsible for cooking dinner every night for the entire family or just the kids?
The questions go on and on but those are a few that might be awkward to discuss at first, but you have to rip the bandaid sometime. It is incredibly important to find a work/life balance because you want to find time to explore the all the amazing Aussie activities around you.
6) Apply for your visa
Dependent on which country you are a citizen of, you will have to look into various Visa Requirements. If you are from the USA, and a few other applicable countries, you will be looking into a Subclass 462 Visa (The Working Holiday Visa). If you are from one of these various European Countries, you will be eligible for a Subclass 417 Visa. There are various requirements, one of the biggest being age as you need to be between 18-30 years old to be applicable for these two visas. Check out the other requirements here before applying. The terms are defined as only being able to work 6 months with one employer, but many Au Pairs wiggle their way around this by being paid cash for a duration of their work as an Au Pair.
7) Accept the position
This is sometimes the hardest part of the process. When you find the right fit (on both sides), don’t be afraid to book your plane ticket and go. My heart was in my throat when I boarded the plane for the land down under; jumping into the lives of a family I didn’t know, and into a country so far from home. There will be times of utter awkwardness, you will be a disruption to the family flow in the beginning, but enter with an open mind, and realize not all days will be easy. Kids are utterly crazy, but they are absolutely enlightening and heartwarming, and hopefully you will leave your experience with a second Aussie family.
My Au Pair friends in Australia became like family, and we all had incredibly different experiences. I will be blunt and say some of the stories on both the Au Pair and family-side were awful. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out, and you don’t get what you signed up for. This is why it is vital to be very open about what you both want from the beginning. But, know there is always an outlet, another family right down the road, or another job waiting if things don’t quite work out.
Au Pairing taught me so much in terms of communication, parenting, and really made me aware that I am not ready for the immense responsibility of having my own little humans running around yet. I wouldn’t trade my time with the Sorensens (Gen, Archer, and Allyra) for anything. I still talk with them today, and am planning a potential reunion soon.
Let me know if you have any other questions as I know how tricky the process can be. I’m keen to hear about your own Au Pair experiences in Australia. And, for those who have already done it, what advice would you give to your fellow Travelettes?