I’ve been in Bordeaux for less than a month, and I’m already on school vacation!
The break began yesterday (Oct 19) and lasts all the way until November 3.
To be perfectly honest, I’m feeling a little restless to already be on vacation!
I only just got to Bordeaux and I’m the type of person that needs structure to my days. I need to set my alarm, wake up early, shower–or I just don’t get my day moving and I stay in bed for far too long.
So not having to wake up early for work has not been good for me!
Also, there’s that whole issue of being broke AF and having nothing to do all day…I want to go get a coffee or shop and that is just not something in my budget haha. But, against my better budget judgment I made plans with some other assistants to see San Sebastián this weekend (yikes my wallet is crying) but I’m so excited to see the Basque Country for the first time! I’m sure I’ll have a lot to blog about from this upcoming trip.
I knew I would need to find another job when I got to Bordeaux–my TAPIF salary really is not enough–something like 780 euros net. (Plus I don’t get my first check till the 27th so right now things are a bit stressful!)
I only work with TAPIF 12 hours a week, so I have a lot of availability when it comes to a second job. Also, I’m really lucky because my visa gives me a lot of flexibility! I can work full time and I’m able to renew my visa when it expires which is pretty attractive to prospective employers.
At first, I was looking into working for a Babysitting/Tutoring Agency.
I first tried going with Speaking Agency.
The pay difference between a Babysitting position and a Tutoring Position was pretty significant. It was something like 12 euros/hour for babysitting (and no matter how many kids you are babysitting, the rate stays at 12 euros) versus something like 16 euros/hour for tutoring.
Naturally, I wanted a tutoring job. I have my TAPIF experience but before that, I really wanted to be a teacher and I spent two summers teaching an English Language Arts class while in high school. So I felt like I was qualified enough to tutor English as a foreign language–especially since most of the positions were for kids around the age of 7 years old or so!
But, apparently, I wasn’t qualified! Speaking Agency told me that even though I had teaching experience prior to my assistant job here in Bordeaux, because it was not teaching experience as TESL/TEFL, it didn’t count towards “teaching experience”…so I was only qualified enough for the babysitting positions.
This was disheartening. While I love babysitting and I love children, I really didn’t feel like Speaking Agency paid enough. 12 euros/hour is already kind of low–especially when there is more than one child!
Also, the way Speaking Agency runs things is in a very cold tone. They’re all business from the way they talk to you to the way interviews run. It really doesn’t feel like care about whether or not you work for them and if you’re going to do a good job.
Still, I had a successful interview and they informed me that I had moved on to the next step. But a few days went by and I didn’t hear anything. I called them, and they informed me the position had already been taken by the time I had my interview.
So…why did they interview me for that job in the first place!?
Before that interaction had ever happened, I had my doubts about Speaking Agency as I really didn’t like their atmosphere in the first place. That was sort of the last straw for me and I decided I didn’t want to work with them.
I then turned to Babylangues and sent in an application. Babylangues pays even less (10 euros/hour–even with more than one child) but I liked the vibe their agency had much more. They’re extremely warm and they offer more benefits.
If I were a parent looking for childcare, I would definitely choose Babylangues over Speaking Agency. The interview I had with Babylangues was almost an hour long and very, very thorough. It feels like they really vet their babysitters/instructors–they asked many questions and they ask for letters of reference, too. Plus, once you’ve made it on past the interview you have to take a mandatory course to be considered qualified to work for them. Also, they match families with you and you don’t have to search for openings on your own like with Speaking Agency.
Within the same day of my interview, I was already matched with multiple families through Babylangues. But, I couldn’t help but feel I would be getting seriously underpaid if I worked for them–no matter how desperate I was for cash.
I still had another interview with a company in Bordeaux the next day, so I decided to keep my options open and go to the interview and see how things went. This position pays much better (18 euros/hour) and I am so in love with the company–they totally support their teachers and the hours work very well with my assistant position.
I had the interview today and I am happy to say it was successful! I still don’t want to name the company just in case something happens (and for privacy reasons, it’s probably best if I don’t share) or if I end up not getting the job, but right now I am so happy that I’ve made it to the next round. I’m going to be observing classes on Monday and I cannot wait.
Even if I don’t end up getting this job, I have decided to not work for Babylangues. Both Speaking Agency and Babylangues charge around 20-25 euros an hour for their clients for babysitting but only end up paying their employees about half of that.
I can understand how Babylangues would be enticing for an Anglophone as they do offer a lot of support–they help you set up a bank account, offer help with finding housing, reimburse for a monthly bike pass, prepare you to give English lessons–but I just don’t think the pay is good enough. I think if you’re expected to both babysit and guide children through the English language, you should be getting paid at least 15 euros/hour. Back in California, I would get paid 20 dollars/hour for babysitting–so 10 euros an hour just really didn’t feel right to me. Plus, as a native English speaker in France, you offer certain services that other babysitters cannot. If agencies who advertise their native English babysitters charge families 20-25 euros an hour, it’s still in the families best interest to work with you independently and you shouldn’t feel awkward about asking for 15 euros/hour if a family really wants this service and you are delivering what you promise.
My advice for anyone looking at working for an agency is to be very, very careful. Know your value and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t sign on.
I never signed anything with Babylangues so I simply e-mailed them telling them I wouldn’t be able to work with them after all.
Hopefully, this job with the other place works out!
Wish me luck.