A while ago I got a request for advice — a host mom was mystified that her desired au pair candidates seemed uninterested in the opportunity she had to offer.
After all, what au pair wouldn’t want a situation that required only 20 hours per week, paid vacations with the family, her own apartment underneath theirs, on Lake Shore Drive, with a Mercedes SUV for her own use? Oh yes, and tuition reimbursed at a major Chicago University?
Dear readers, I thought the email was a hoax. So I replied with an email of my own:
Are you fur reelz?
Indeed, she claimed. Very real.
After several rounds of emails, I concluded that her situation is pretty real. And even if it’s exaggerated, the central question remains:
When we offer a great situation, why don’t we easily find great au pairs?
You all will have a lot to say.
Here’s her dilemma, put together with details from a few rounds of correspondence between us:
We are a first-time host family from Chicago, IL. We are a family of 5 (me, hub, 3 kids aged 6 – 15). We have been looking for our AP for almost one year, because we wanted “the perfect candidate” for us. We were not looking for someone PERFECT, but someone who was perfect for us.
We found an amazing girl on Site Y about 2 months ago. She was exactly from the country we wanted, from a country/2nd language we wanted, 21 years old, 13years education, proficiency English, wonderful human being. She provided us references, which we contacted, who wouldn’t stop saying how amazing and smart and skilled she is. Straight-As at school but also street smart, generous, fun, down to earth, very talented.
We talked a lot by email first, and then on skype more than once. She was already wonderful, even on skype. She was very honest and upfront about everything we talked about, even things that could have made her “lose points”, and so were we with her. We fell in love with this Au Pair and so did our kids.
We knew she was in contact with other families and that she was close to a match with more than one family and that she was close to a decision, but honestly, as arrogant as it might sound, we thought that no family could “beat us out”. (I know, I’m not supposed to say that but… that’s how we felt.)
She made a short video for me and my family in which she told us that she finally made a decision and she chose another family. It was a cold shower for us, even if during the matching process she kept telling us that she was hearing from other families and that she had to decide (we already asked her for a match and so did the other families I guess). I have to say it was very nice of her to make a video to tell us that, because an email would have been easier, required less “emotional energy” and so on. But still, she chose another family and I know we won’t find another AP like her :-( (we have been looking for months!!)
I know I can’t do anything to make her change her idea, even if I will – and yeah, I know I’m not supposed to do that – but I feel she is “the one”! But in all of this I really don’t understand how come she chose someone else!
This AP wanted to go to Chicago very badly … but then she took the advice to choose the family over the place…
Before she declined, we had already stated some nice benefits in the AP handbook we sent her. I don’t want to raise jealousy but like I said, we are very prosperous so we wanted this girl to have some nice perks. These included:
- We offered her a 500$/week stipend, which means 2.000$/month
- 20h/week schedule, and she could take classes every day 9.30 am – 4 pm
- We told her we could pay for her tuition at X University where she had already been accepted. (She’d been issued a scholarship opportunity from X University last year, (she was in Chicago to study english and has an amazing talent for writing. Her teacher knew someone at University X so he had her go there and present an application and they offered her a scholarship to study there). The scholarship would cover about 8,000 $ and she would have to pay like 6,000 $ more (because she would be a sort of a part time student). She said she would cover the cost for her university but I know she doesn’t come from a wealthy family and those 6K would “cost” more for her than they would cost for us if that makes any sense.)
- We were going to buy her a brand new Mércedes ML (Suv) to drive our kids and told her she would have unlimited car usage and that we would pay for gas for her personal use as well. (B/c it’s among those cars that have ONSTAR system. Safety is among our primary concerns so the aupair car MUST have that system on it. (It’s a General Motor service and not so many cars have it. If we were going to buy a Chevrolet Escalades (which has it) or something similar, the price would not be that different, so we had our 15 years old girl choosing the car that she liked because hopefully in about 2 years or so, she will drive and we won’t need an aupair or full time nanny anymore, and the AP car could be my daughter’s).
- We have an almost new condo right under ours (but on one floor), that would have been her apartment
- We go on vacation once or twice per months (depending on our children schedules), usually to very fancy (and expensive) places and told her she was welcome to come with us (we wanted her to!)
- We live in the city she is in love with.. which I know was priceless for her.
To be clear, when we first contacted her, we didn’t offer all this information up front, and we did not post it on Site Y. I didn’t want an AP to choose us just because of our whealty lifestyle. I just wanted to make sure that an AP would choose us because of our family and not because of our money.
I can’t imagine that the other family could make as good of an offer, e.g., teenagers (who don’t require much work), brand new suv, high stipend, over-the-average perks, and a warming loving family who was looking forward to have her.
She never promised us “anything” but we were maybe too confident in hoping that she would be OUR ap? As a first time host mom, with this big disappointment, I’m wondering –
– where did I do wrong?
– what can we do to get the kind of au pair we want?
I don’t want to sound “stand-offish” with all I said. But yes, we can afford to give the AP some nice benefits and we would be happy to do that FOR THE RIGHT PERSON who deserves that. And the right person was this girl.
Please PLEASE please, let me know if you have any advice on how to convince her to say yes to us and tell us what did we do wrong. She is so amazing I know we are not going to find another her.