Monday, 28 September 2015

Preparing to be an Au Pair in America (interexchange)

So as many of you know I am going to New York next Monday for a week at orientation which is basically a week of training and talks. You learn basic first aid, CPR and have talks about driving, taxes and much more.
The start of my process
 First I researched which company I wanted to choose, I there are so many different agencies to go with from Au Pair in america, Au Pair world and GAP360. I didn't do a lot of research really I looked around a little bit but to be honest they all seemed to offer the same sort of thing. I went with GAP360 who work with a company called Interexchange. I had to pay a fee of £449 to apply and then you attend an interview. You only pay a deposit until you have had the interview I believe but obviously if you are not accepted you do get your money back. (don't quote me on that) All information is available on the website.
I applied then was given an interview date, the interview was in Tunbridge Wells, you have to attend the interview and the cost isn't covered by the company. They interview wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be she asked me about my experience with children, how I would deal with different situations and also questions about myself. My lifestyle, driving experience and much much more. It was really not as daunting as it sounds. I found out at the end I was successful and I then had to complete an online profile.
My online Au Pair profile
The online profile is basically a profile where families will be able to look over your childcare experience, your preferences to what you agree with, whether you are comfortable with working with a family of a different religion to you, same sex marriage and  single parents. Basically everything is covered, I then had to write a letter about myself, my family and my experience caring for children and driving. Upload photos of yourself and a 3-4 minute video of yourself doing different things such as driving caring for children and talking a little about yourself. It doesn't have to be to long I was really scared about this part but it wasn't actually as bad as I thought it would be.
Your profile is then looked over by the interexchange team to ensure you have filled everything in correctly and to ensure that you haven't made any spelling mistakes. Then its made live to families. You are then put on-view with different families who are specifically matched with you based on the things you have said on your profile and then what they have said on their profile.

On-view with families
This is the scary part well I thought it was the scariest part because I didn't know what to expect. Basically every 3 or four days you are matched with different families they will look over your profile and you will be able to look at theirs. I spoke to my first family over skype and I was horrendously nervous. It is so simple though and now I look back its so much easier than an actual interview. You will then be able to speak to them for a few days and if you both like each other and begin to speak to each other a few times. I didn't match with my first family but I spoke to my family about 4 times and we matched.

Skype interviews with a host family
This was the thing I was most nervous about because when you apply you kind of give a date to when you expect to be going my date was the 21st September - 7th November  This is just space of time you specify for when you want to leave, to again make it easy for matching. I had quite a few interview and to be honest I did start to get frustrated because I was having some really good chats with families they would leave an impression on me. I spoke to one family which went really well I met the children, then they went on holiday for two weeks telling me they would speak to me soon. I was very excited to hear from them and didn't obviously at first i was very frustrated because I thought I would never find a family but, I'm glad it went that way now because I have found a great family and I can wait to arrive.
Make sure you are prepared thats all I can say, research a little on the family find out the ages of the children. Ensure you ask a lot of questions about the children and their likes and dislikes. What activities they like to do what they are into. Food preferences, special diets, the families religion. They will ask questions about you but ensure you have questions ready for them because it looks better when you are prepared.

This is when you have spoke to the family a number of time and you are happy with everything you have spoken to them about. Have asked all the questions you need and been given all the answers and have a good feeling about it! FOLLOW YOUR GUT! I knew my family would be a great match for me, I am so happy I have matched with them and can't wait to meet them. Just be patient something will come along I got to the point where I generally convinced myself that no family would choose me but it does happen. It just seems stressful but it will all work out in the end I wasn't very patient but as soon as I matched I felt stupid for even thinking that.

Whats next?
You will then be contact by interexchange they will help you a lot and give you a lot of information about a 1-2 weeks after you match you will receive a pack through the post with information about your host family, a childcare test and LOADS more information from your local co-ordinator in the area you will be staying, It starts to feel like its all happening (it is). Although now it still doesn't feel like i'm going anywhere!
You will then go online fill in a number of forms to do with your Visa, book a visa appointment attend the appointment hopefully be successful in getting a visa. Which you probably will be if you have passed all the checks you have already completed. Then you will have to worry about packing and fulling in your childcare test and reading up about the local area. Make sure you keep in contact with your host family.

Who supports me in the UK
Whilst I'm still here and from the very beginning I have been helped through this process by a lovely lady called Nicola. She is from GAP360 and has helped me every step of the way. Help with visa questions, actually she has helped me with loads of questions even the most stupidest questions you could have asked. Don't worry she's probably heard it all before. Honestly she has been a massive help to me and I know she has helped the other girls also.

So this is it the time next week I will be in New York, I have obviously written this post to help people not just for my original blog readers, because it may not interest everyone. I want to help people and give them an insight into what the process is really like. All flights are paid for and accommodation for a week in New York is also paid for.

If you have any questions at all email me or just comment below, I will be happy to answer any questions. Also this sounds like a sponsored post but it isn't, haha.

thanks for reading

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