GoAbroad Interview

Emelie Landenberg - Candidate Manager

Emelie Landenberg - Candidate Manager

Emelie has worked with Au Pair Link for the last two years as a Candidate Manager. Coming from Sweden to New Zealand as an au pair in 2009 with Au Pair Link awakened her love for all things Kiwi and the youth travel industry. She is now happily sharing her experiences with other prospective au pairs while helping them through the application process.

You were an au pair with Au Pair Link back in 2009, what made the organization stand out to you?

When I first started looking for au pair opportunities in this part of the world, Au Pair Link was the first company I found. Even seven years ago it was an amazing company that had a family feel to it, while also remaining very professional. Our educational program is very special as it is developed from New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum and gives au pairs a chance to work with their children on developing in all aspects of their lives. Kiwis are also some of the most relaxed and open minded people in the world, so getting to spend a year down here was a dream come true.

Visiting Hobbiton, New Zealand

With the au pairs on an outing to Hobbiton

How did you shift from au pair, to Au Pair Link employee?

I loved my experiences while being an au pair so much that when I first got back home to Sweden I wanted to keep in touch with the organization and the work they did. I started doing interviews with prospective au pairs for Au Pair Link’s Swedish partner agency, and once I finished university I was hired to work full time for Au Pair Link in London. I loved meeting and helping other young people fulfill their dream of going to New Zealand, so much so that I got a bit jealous! When the opportunity arose for me to go back to New Zealand, I didn’t have to consider it for very long. I have now been living in Auckland for the last year working in Au Pair Link’s offices, and it was by far the best decision I have ever made.

What is an average day like as candidate manager?

As a candidate manager I get to speak to hundreds of au pairs every week. On average I am in charge of about 300 au pairs in different stages of the application process. Some of them might just be starting out, so I need to contact them and send them more information about our program, which means I answer a lot of emails and queries every day.

Visitors at the Auckland Zoo in New Zealand

At Auckland Zoo with one of our many au pairs

We work within our team to make the best matches possible. My job is to get the know the au pairs and what they are looking for as quickly as possible. This is helped through Skype interviews and regular catch-ups throughout the week. We can then match au pairs up with host families we think they would be suitable for.

I then help the au pairs with the necessary preparations before coming out to New Zealand, including helping with the travel booking process and being there if they have any questions or concerns. Once the au pairs have arrived in New Zealand, their Family & Program Manager usually takes over, but I am always there to help if they need to speak to someone. I can even speak to them in Swedish if needed!

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is keeping up with host family demand. Often we will have a lot more host families than we have au pairs, so it becomes a challenge to recruit and match enough new au pairs. Between January and June especially, au pairs will have their pick of the jobs and have lots of families to choose from.

What characteristics do you look for in Au Pair Link applicants?

The most important thing we look for in any applicant is that they must have a love for children. Being an au pair is a full-time, full on job, so they won’t be able to do it if they don’t love being around and looking after children.

Au pairing is such a unique opportunity, since not only do you get to work with children every day, you actually live with them and create a much deeper bond than you would working in a different childcare setting.

For that reason, applicants should also be really good communicators and be able to openly share and discuss issues with their host families. They also need to be honest, open minded, and enthusiastic.

Emelie Landenberg at the Au Pair Link office in Auckland, New Zealand

Emelie at the office in Auckland

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to new au pairs headed to New Zealand?

I would say that coming to New Zealand as an au pair is a big decision, so congratulations on taking that step. Being an au pair means getting a new family on the other side of the world, so just try and enjoy it as much as possible.

Another thing to be prepared for is homesickness. Everyone gets homesick, it’s just part of moving so far away. Often I feel like au pairs are afraid to share the parts of their experience that aren’t 100 percent positive, but I would say to them that everyone feels like that at some stage. It’s easier to get through homesickness when you share with others in the same situation as you, they might even have some good tricks to get over it that you haven’t thought of!

What is the best thing about being an au pair?

The best part of being an au pair is the amazing bond you can create with your host family, and your children in particular. I was an au pair for three little boys, who have now grown up to be eight, ten, and 13 years old, which is crazy to me. I have been lucky enough to have come back to visit twice after my au pair year ended, and since I now live here full-time I get to see them even more often.

The best part of my time with them would be little things, like when my two-year-old said he loved me for the first time or when they would tell me one of their secrets that not even their mum and dad knew about. Being such a big part of a child’s life, and having them trust and love you that way is unbeatable; there really is nothing like it.

Au pair with children in Auckland, New Zealand

Emelie with the three little boys she looked after as an au pair in Auckland in 2009

You’ve been with Au Pair Link for almost two years, what has been your biggest accomplishment since joining the team?

My biggest accomplishment while working for Au Pair Link was definitely that I was offered the chance to come back to New Zealand to work within the wider team. I was heartbroken when I left New Zealand after my au pair placement, so it had been a dream of mine to be able to return here and work while also being close to “my” kids.

What is your most memorable experience with Au Pair Link thus far?

That would definitely be when I matched my very first au pair, Lucy, with a host family in New Zealand. These days I match hundreds of au pairs every month, but I will always remember my first ever placement. It felt like a real achievement, especially as she went on to have a very successful placement here in New Zealand.

What’s the most exciting part of working for Au Pair Link?

The most exciting part is definitely meeting all of our lovely au pairs, host families, and children. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that what we do here in the office actually has a huge impact on people’s lives. Getting to hear about successful placements, amazing outings, and happy children makes working for Au Pair Link extremely exciting!

A house at Hobbiton in New Zealand

At Hobbiton with Julia, one of Au Pair Link’s Family & Programme Managers