Au Pair Struggles: what agency to choose?

Which agency do you recommend?

This question is up on a lot of websites often. Of course there’s nothing wrong with it and I’m not laughing at anyone here! I just wanted to share what I think about it. In my opinion there’s the risk that, let’s say 20 people answering the question, 20 of them will recommend their own agency because they know about this one the most. You can find a group of people of those 20 au pairs where 13 of them came to the US from the same agency and the rest 7 were from others. Therefore, you have 13 positive opinions about one agency and only 2 positives about the other one, and the rest got 1 “vote” each because there weren’t more people from those agencies on the forum at that time. It doesn’t mean that the most popular one in this group will be the right one for you. Of course, other’s opinions are important too but this isn’t the only thing you should count on. In my opinion.

What to look for when picking my agency?

  • Will agency fool me?

On the Department of State website there’s the whole list of agencies they work with. The ones you’ll find out there are legal and they won’t send you to the other side of the world to work in a brothel. You can find this list HERE.

  • Do I have enough money?

It’s obvious that when people are so young, not all of them can spend thousands of Polish zlotych/American dollars/euros. Prices vary a lot and you just need to check different agencies to decide which one is reasonable for you and which one goes away immediately. Don’t follow the direction when you take a price as a determinant if the agency is good or bad – the fact that it’s the most expensive one doesn’t mean it’s the best one. And vice versa – the cheapest one isn’t the worst one.

If it comes to other  costs, in Poland everything looks the same – you have to pay for visa and other stuff like that, and doesn’t matter which agency you’d pick.

  • I’m looking for the agency where I don’t have to have a driver’s license. 

This is a requirement to have a license when you want to become an au pair in the USA.

  • What kind of a health insurance do I need?

There are two options – a basic and an extended insurance. If you’re not neutral with it because you’re afraid about your health and you prefer to feel safer, you’ll care to have the extended insurance so that agency everyone recommends that doesn’t have this kind of insurance, will drop out form your list of candidates. It’s good to pay attention to that and remember that you can read booklets from insurance companies (you can ask someone from the au pair agency for them) to know what you’re paying for, if you’re interested. None will offer the extended insurance in a price you pay for them but some of them (not all) offer it to buy as an extra. Prices here vary as well.

  • I don’t like doing everything online!

If this is a problem and you prefer to meet people from the agency in person and talk like this, you have fewer agencies left to choose from so it’ll help as well!

  • I’m afraid I won’t handle it with my English…

In Poland there are those intermediary agencies where Polish people work so au pairs can speak in Polish (interview is always in English, though). I’m guessing there are places like that in your countries as well. But then wait a moment and wonder – you want to go to the USA where you’ll speak in English from the very beginning; interview for a visa is most often in English; agreements with American agencies are in English, and so on…

  • I want the agency that has better families than others!

First of all, what does “better family” mean? There’s no way to have this one as one of your criterion because each family is different and each au pair is different. So each person will like something else.

  • I want the agency that has less rematches than the rest!

This is hard to determine because different agencies have different amounts of people. It’s possible that the one with the greatest number of people will have the greatest number of rematches when you look at numbers (because it has the greatest number of au pairs and host families in general) but it changes when you compare in percentages. And the rest is the same as in the previous post. Also, remember that both sides are involved in rematch – host family and au pair – not only host family.

  • I want to go with my boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.

Agencies don’t offer going to the USA as a pair or a group. You can apply at the same time and some agencies have some good price drops in this case but you never know where you’ll be so you can live close to each other or on the other sides of the country if you decide for those families.

  • I want to find an agency where I’ll have less work than in the others.

If it comes to requirements and conditions about your work, it’s not any agency, it comes from above – from the Department of State. This is what you can’t change, unless you agree on something with your host family.

Remember that booklets from the agencies and all the advertisements are there to encourage young people to join them and to become an au pair. They’ll tell you that you can travel all over the country, you’ll make almost $10.000, you’ll have a 13th month to travel, that it’s an excellent way to meet new people, to learn, and so on. Yes, it’s all true BUT there are other sides of everything that they won’t tell you in booklets but they’ll leave for later – for agreements.

And so my small advice for the end – read agreements!!!!!! Especially because they’re not that long but they refer to YOUR life on the other side of the world for minimum a year. I honestly can’t believe how few people read what they sign. That so few of them fully realize what they’ll have after their arrival to the States, what their responsibilities and rights are. It’s really worth it to know everything earlier than be surprised later when you realize you have to do children’s laundry because it’s too much! No, this is one of the requirements you agreed while signing the agreement you didn’t even read ;). And this is a small example.

If you have any questions about this or other things, feel free to add them in the comments.

Talk to you next time,