Strap yourself in, because the matching process is a crazy roller-coaster of emotions! There will be moments of excitement, nervousness, disappointment, frustration – and sometimes all of these things at once! Make sure you don’t panic and stay focused – because trust me, you’ll be just fine!
Once your profile finally goes live, it becomes available to the hundreds of families looking to hire an Au Pair. They will be able to browse through your application, putting you ‘on view’ if they are interested and therefore hiding you from everyone else’s searches in order to start the interview process with you. Some people will get put on view immediately, for others it may take a few weeks before a potential family shows an interest. With Interexchange/Gap 360, you can only be put ‘on view’ by one family at a time, whereas other companies allow you to be ‘on view’ with multiple families at once. I personally think that having the opportunity to speak with more than one family at a time is much better at helping you to make an informed decision about who you want to spend the next year of your life with!
The limitations of being on view with only one family was the only thing that really frustrated me about the application process with Interexchange. I often felt as though I was being rushed or panicked into making a decision – which considering it’s a big commitment, is not a nice feeling to feel! A family would put me on view, but I would have no idea what other opportunities were out there, or if this was the only family that were going to show me any interest! I found it really difficult not being able to compare the pros and cons of one family against another, I can only imagine it’s similar to a deal or no deal style gameshow – you get handed a box and you have no idea whether there’s a million bucks inside or absolutely zilch. Even more annoyingly, families ARE able to view and interview more than one candidate at once, so YOUR chances are limited, even though theirs aren’t. Frustratingly, there’s nothing you can do about it, other than stay positive and go with your gut feeling about whether a family is wrong or right for you.
Please do remember, that getting a perfect match is just as important for you as it is for the family. While you should definitely remain open minded, you still need to remember you’re moving your whole life abroad, leaving your friends and family for a year and embarking onto a new country, family and job all at once – so you have to protect your happiness and allow yourself to set some basic limits in regards to what kind of family you’re willing to progress on this adventure with.
I had 3 main criteria that I deemed the most important to me when it came to accepting an offer from a family – vibe, age and location. I figured it’d be hard to hit the perfect trifecta, but if I could at least get 2/3 then I felt I’d be a happy girl! The vibe between you and a family after talking to them was by far my most important ask – if you didn’t click with them, or felt like there was a hostile or unpleasant vibe coming from the conversation then there’s physically no way you’d want to spend a whole year living with and working for that person, so this, was imperative! The age of the children for me was also a deal breaker. As stated in my previous blog post, I mentioned that I wouldn’t want a child under 5 years old, as I had little to no experience with that age and so wouldn’t have felt too comfortable, or been able to give them the care and attention they deserved. Finally, location. I felt that if I had my ideal family dynamic and got a good vibe from them, then I could live anywhere, as a lot of the time it’s the people you’re around that makes or breaks your overall experience. I’m a city girl through and through though, so ideally I wanted to be in a big city, immediately drawn to places like New York and San Francisco to immerse myself into an American city life. That being said however, I was open to the chance of living in a small farm town in the Midwest or a lazy beach town down South – this year was all about different opportunities and new chances!
Overall though, it all depends on who puts you on view. I found it really unfair that Au Pair’s weren’t able to select families they were interested in, because then a lot of the time as an Au Pair during the matching period is spent sat around waiting to be selected. It’s a rubbish feeling and then when a family finally does show an interest, you feel pressured to jump on the first people that give you a look in; which is why I think there are a lot of rematches – but that’s a different blog post for a different day! During the matching process, make sure you keep an open mind, but also don’t settle! There are LOTS of families out there looking, remind yourself that you are qualified, experienced and clearly worthy of this opportunity because you went through the lengthy application process and made it this far.
You can do this, so stay positive!