It seems like yesterday that I was on the plane on my way to New York to start my au pair experience—but the truth is, almost 5 years have passed. When I decided to become an au pair, I did not have anything specific in mind; I was about to graduate with my Bachelor’s in business, and I just wanted to take a gap year, improve my English, and travel as much as possible. And that’s what I’ve done! One month after my graduation I moved to New York … ready to start my new life.
I was taking care of 3 amazing little girls that were 3 months, 2 years old and 4 years old—and at the beginning it was very hard. There were many days when I thought I was going to give up, but I never did. In the meanwhile, I started to meet new friends, explore the city, and plan trips around the States. And after 12 months of discoveries, adventures, difficulties and travels, I came home a totally new person.
I was not scared of being in charge of my life anymore. I knew who I wanted to become and since I was not ready to go back to university, I decided to look online for new job opportunities abroad. I found a marketing internship in Singapore and I stayed there for 3 months. It was amazing to learn from a totally different culture—I was used to being flexible and to adapting myself thanks to my experience as an au pair in the USA, so I had an amazing time.
Once I came back from Singapore, I was finally ready to start my Master’s program, and what better way to do it than in English? When I was an au pair, I did the TOEFL exam which allowed me to be admitted to the Business Management Master’s program in Rome. All the classes were in English, and I could immediately notice the difference between me (after more than a year abroad) and people who had never been abroad. Also, the professors could notice it. I received many compliments for my English and in the end, I graduated ahead of time with honors!
You have to remember that being an au pair does not only mean taking care of children. Being an au pair is about multitasking, being flexible, managing your time, being able to deal with a multicultural environment 24/7, and handling issues in a different language. The good news is: These are the main skills and competences that recruiters are looking for. You need to be able to sell your experience in the best possible way and adapt it to what you want to do in your life. In my résumé, I highlighted everything I learned during my au pair year—and I tried to stress all the great qualities that I knew recruiters were looking for in a candidate. Below you can read some tips to make your résumé stand out by talking about your au pair experience.
Right now, I am back in the United States and I am working as a Marketing Analyst for a Commercial Real Estate company. I oversee the online social media platforms, as well as the offline marketing activities. I’m in charge of getting in contact with prospects and actual clients—and right now, I am also learning some HR skills like screening résumés and interviewing people.
How did I get the job? I wrote on my résumé that I was an au pair in New York. During the interview, the recruiter asked me a lot of questions about my au pair experience and he hired me right after. I am sure that if I did not spend one year in the USA, I would have not been able to deal with such situations. For me, it is now very easy to talk to people at work, understand everything they ask me even if they speak fast, deal with stressful situations and handle my work load every day.
The au pair experience changed my life in ways I could have never imagined. It made me realize that I am a strong young woman and that nothing is impossible—you just have to be patient (this is something you will learn taking care of your host kids). I also learned that you always have to follow your dreams and trust me, they will come true sooner than you expect.
Before becoming an au pair, I would have never expected such a life changing experience. I was sure that I was going to spend one year abroad, playing with the kids and traveling. I was not expecting hard days or stressful situations; I was not expecting that every day of my au pair life would shape my life in an indescribable way. If you are still hesitant about it because you are scared that one year abroad could prevent you from attending the university of your dreams or applying for the job you have always wanted, my advice is just go for it. You will have all your life to study and work—to dedicate yourself to what you like the most—but you only have a limited amount of time to be an au pair and you should not wait.
What you gain by spending one year abroad is something you will never have if you just go to university or start working in your home country. There are skills you cannot learn—you just have to experience and travel the world in order to get them. Being an au pair will not slow down anything—it will enhance your career and make you stand out among the others that never left. Don’t be scared, just live it.