This article was originally published on GoAbroad.
Did you know that one in three mid- and large-size U.S. employers work with global clients and are looking for employees with foreign language and cultural competency skills?
Did you know that 80 percent of 800 U.S. executives said that their business would increase if only their staff had more international experience?
It’s a fact that more and more employers in the U.S. – and around the world – are looking to hire global talent. And, believe it or not, au pairing abroad is a fantastic way to increase your own "global talent." Even a stint as a short term au pair abroad can not only contribute to your personal growth, but also strengthen your professional skills, increase your qualifications for a variety of jobs, and set you apart from the pack.
The marketplace is only getting more diverse and more global — and employers want to hire employees who have the skills to operate in it. Goods and services know no borders, and employers need people who can confidently work with people from other countries and cultures. The U.S. workforce is also becoming increasingly diverse, so employers need people who can help make their own internal teams function more effectively and efficiently.
Why should you become an au pair abroad?
In short, employers are looking for those who know how to work with people different than themselves. They want to hire employees with:
Adaptability and flexibility
Foreign language capabilities and cross-cultural communication skills (that is, an ability to communicate effectively with people who have different cultural expectations and references)
Leadership and management skills to take on complex tasks and work with people from different backgrounds.
Au pair jobs abroad can provide you with valuable experiences in all of these areas, and more. Being an au pair involves complete immersion in a new family and way of life, in a new country, language, and culture. Each day can be an exciting challenge, providing new opportunities to grow your sense of responsibility and independence, and your ability to adapt, problem solve, and lead. If you choose to be an au pair abroad, you have the opportunity to become the global talent that so many employers are seeking.
Global Skills You Can Learn Au Pairing Abroad:
Cross-Cultural Communication & Competency
Success au pairing abroad demands strong communication skills. Whether you know it or not, you bring your own culture with you to your host family — which includes a certain communication style and set of expectations. These will likely be very different than your host family’s own communication style and expectations.
For example, you might come from an area of the U.S. or a family that prizes low-context communication as a way to convey information or address problems: being straight-forward, blunt, and even confrontational. But maybe your host family lives in a country or culture that is more high-context in its communication style, relying on subtle signals rather than straight talk to communicate important information. Such cultural communication differences are likely to be confusing and frustrating, but they are crucial for you to understand, adapt to, and navigate in order to be a successful au pair overseas. These are the exact same kind of communication challenges you will also find in your professional life.
Foreign Language Skills
If you become an au pair in a non-English speaking country, you’ll have an unparalleled opportunity to improve your foreign language skills. While learning in a classroom or using an online program is a great way to get started, the only way to become truly fluent is to immerse yourself in the language on a daily basis.
Language immersion is exactly what you’ll get au pairing abroad. Your host children and parents will be the best language teachers you could ever imagine. Coming away from your au pair experience with a strong working knowledge of a foreign language is a major career benefit, making you an even stronger candidate for employers looking to hire that global talent.
Complex Project Management
Managing your relationship with your host family and duties as an au pair can be a challenging affair. Many of your tasks as an au pair overseas are similar to what you’ll face in your career: You'll juggle changing schedules and manage time efficiently and responsibly. You’ll be required to show diligence and attention to detail when taking care of your little one(s). As it’s you who’s been entrusted with the well-being of the children, you’ll need to exhibit responsibility and accountability. You’ll have to show creativity when finding new ways to play with your host kids, flexibility when things don’t go quite as planned, patience when a meltdown occurs, and persistence to push through the inevitable tough days.
In short, your whole au pairing abroad experience will be an exercise in managing a complex project with a variety of stakeholders, each of whom has different needs and expectations. The skills you develop doing this will translate directly to your chosen career.
Expand Your Experience & Showcase Your Leadership
You’ll finish your time as an au pair with a great line for your resume. But don’t let “au pair” be the only thing you have to add, or else you’ll have missed a valuable opportunity.
Choosing to au pair abroad is an incredible opportunity to do many things besides just being an au pair! Even as a short term au pair you’ll likely have the flexibility to take on other activities and indulge your interests. Think about getting involved in your host community outside of your family and au pair duties. Volunteer for a cause that’s close to your heart. Organize an event that supports a charity or other worthwhile cause. Join a sports team or a music group. Attend lectures or other events that stimulate your intellectual interests. Look to take a leadership role in these activities.
Coming out of your au pair program with a variety of experiences (and line items for your resume) will not only enhance the career benefits of au pairing abroad, but also have made it that much richer and more enjoyable.
Find the Right Au Pair Jobs Abroad for You
So should you become an au pair? It’s important to ask yourself some key questions about the experience to find the program that’s the right fit for you. Be sure to read reviews of popular providers, as well as the reviews of any au pair program provider you are interested in.
In the end, it’s essential for you to understand your own goals for your au pair abroad experience, and to find an au pair job that will support you in meeting those goals.
Building Blocks for a Global Resume
Remember that it’s up to you to communicate all of the benefits of your experience as an au pair overseas to a potential employer. So, when you’re brushing up your resume or preparing for an interview, remember to communicate the value of your au pair experience very clearly and in ways that will allow an employer to see the direct benefits regardless of the field or your future job title.