The Inside Scoop on All Things Au Pair in America
Are you interested in hosting an au pair? Curious about what happens behind the scenes here at Au Pair in America to help make your experience extraordinary?
We’d like to introduce our Senior Registration Coordinator, Sharon Meinck. A veteran in the industry, Sharon recently chatted with us about her daily responsibilities, the importance of cultural exchange, and her best advice for host families.
Here is the inside scoop on all things Au Pair in America from the eyes of Senior Registration Coordinator Sharon Meinck:
Q. 1: Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Au Pair in America.
“I started working at Au Pair in America the day after my daughter’s first birthday,” Sharon said. “I started as a Registration Coordinator, then moved to the role of Placement Coordinator, and for the past 11 years I’ve worked as the Senior Registration Coordinator.”
As Senior Registration Coordinator, Sharon’s role includes helping host families with submitting their applications, organizing their supporting documents, and updating their accounts. She also organizes Au Pair in America’s host family referral program.
Of the host family referral program, she said, “I love seeing a current host family share their positive experience with another family, who then want to become a host family themselves.”
Q. 2: Why do you think cultural exchange is important?
“Cultural exchange is so very important,” said Sharon. “It brings the world together. Over the course of my many years with Au Pair in America, I’ve met many of our international partners and, of course, our au pairs. Each time, I’ve learned something new about their country and culture and am able to then share that with others.”
Her experiences have shown her just how invaluable the benefits of cultural exchange are, specifically for au pairs and host families.
“Au pairs bring their experiences from America back home and share them with those around them. Similarly, host families share their experiences of their au pair’s culture with those around them in the United States. It’s a beautiful thing – it’s this wonderful circle.”
Q. 3: There are so many Au Pair in America “success stories.” What’s one of your favorites?
“One of my favorite stories is of a host family who took a month-long vacation through Germany, visiting each of their former au pairs and their families,” Sharon said. “They called it the German tour!”
This story demonstrates how the hosting experience forms such special, lasting, international relationships.
“At the end of their German tour, the host family attended the wedding of their first au pair. The host father walked the au pair down the aisle, and the host children were part of the wedding party.”
Q. 4: What is the most rewarding part of being a member of the Au Pair in America team?
“The most rewarding part of my role is giving a new family their first glance into the program,” Sharon said. “I also love talking with the same families year after year as they continue with the program.”
For Sharon, it’s also an especially rewarding feeling when host families share how wonderful their hosting experience was.
“I’ve heard so many times, ‘I wish I could host my au pair forever. She has become part of the family!’ Often, families tell me how their previous au pairs came back to visit, or how they took a family vacation to visit their previous au pairs in their home country.”
Q. 5: What advice could you give host families to ensure a successful year?
“Trust your instincts,” Sharon said. “When interviewing, don’t just ask the questions to your potential au pair – really listen to their answers and their questions to you.”
Most importantly, Sharon emphasized that it’s important for host families to treat their au pair like a member of their family.
“Remember that they are leaving their own family to become part of yours. Share your day-to-day life with them – but also encourage them to go out and experience American life outside of your family.”