Here is Lorena Martinez, from Au Pair Mallorca , hard at work, doing a presentation about the au pair programme. We love working with Lorena as she’s passionate about the programme.
When did you found your agency or when did you start working for it?
I found my agency in 2009, after 3 years being host mum. I got to the point where I couldn’t go on with my PhD, so decided to found my own au pair agency. Moreover, the agency I was using here in Palma closed… so I saw the chance and took it!
Why did you start working in the au pair business?
Because I had au pairs at home and thought it was the perfect program for young people to travel the world, which I did when I was young. I decided I could use my language and professional skills to set an international network of reliable partners to help young people here in Spain and abroad.
What do you love most about your work?
Getting to know people and help them pursue their next adventure. I love it when au pairs send pictures to me from the other side of the world and you can see they are happy and you helped them in their way. It’s not only they are improving their skills but also they are developing themselves as persons with an obvious open mind.
What is difficult about your work?
The fact you cannot be there when problems arise and sometimes you feel like you would drive to your au pair and hug her.
What was the most fun thing you experienced?
I got a phone call from a very upset grandmother once. Her daugther had asked us for an au pair, and she thought we were offering other kind of services and sending a young pretty girl to her son-in-law!! I spent half an hour explaining what an au pair is and said nothing to her daugther. She had her au pair and it was the best experience ever for the family! They learnt quite a lot about the au pair’s country and lifestyle, children had an amazing summer and are still in touch with her.
What do you like about UK ?
I spent 1 year in Scotland and 3 in Wales, plus have done several trips and stays around England. I got to see how cosmopolitan some cities are, how people are open to new cultures and willing to learn from them and felt always good. I’ve seen some of the best nature sceneries ever, climbed spectacular mountains and even had a bath! in the Atlantic. Plus, I’ve shared delicious meals in local pubs and enjoyed picnics in the park… yes, it all in the UK!
What makes a good au pair application?
It’s not only about having good childcare references (which obviously counts), but also that they do understand what being an au pair is about. I spend a good deal of time with candidates in my office, making it very clear and telling them how a host mum feels. I have also learnt age is just a number for an au pair, as many younger girls have turned our to be fantastic au pairs. Words like willingness and flexibility are quite useful for a candidate.
How do you choose your candidates?
They always need to come to my agency or have Skype in order to have a first personal interview. I usually have 2 or 3 interviews with them, so that I can make sure they understand the rules and are certain about what they are doing. I had many girls in the office who were just looking for a way to scape from routine and would accept whatever program; this is not what I look for. They need to show me they have plans, want to improve their English level for a certain reason and enjoy spending time with kids. I also need to see an interest in other culture, a willingness to adapt and an open mind.
What do you think of Rainbow Au Pairs?
I started working with Rainbow Au Pairs years ago and I like the fact it’s always Cynthia who is in the other side. I don’t need to start from the beginning nor explain the way I work or talk to different people. I also like Cynthia interviewing candidates when matched with her families, ‘cos she gets to know them and she also organises trips for them, which is rare. In addition, the agreement she sends for au pairs and families to sign is long but accurate. She is there if I need to talk to her and replies to emails the day I send them. High standards!
What are the expectations of your candidates?
The good thing is they exactly know where they are going and what the au pair program is going to be like. They expect host families to treat them as one more member of their home, who is there to help and who needs to be treated with respect and care. They also know there are light housechores to do which they may not have done before, but thanks to the information we give them, there are no surprises. Furthermore, if a host family asks them for something which wasn’t listed nor expected, they know they can send a Whatsapp message to me (this is their favourite way to communicate these days) at anytime and I’ll shortly reply. This is one of the advantages they get for doing things properly and having an au pair agency behind.