Well guys, it’s about that time. The application period for the 2014-2015 Auxiliares de Conversación program will open next month on January 9, and I can practically feel your anxiety and anticipation from here! This program is basically a dream and I understand why any American would want to apply, so I have a few tips to help you go through the application process with ease.
Congrats! You’ve made the decision to move to Spain to teach English, now what? Well now it’s time to actually apply which is always the scariest part. When I applied for this program, I was TERRIFIED that I’d do something wrong and somehow fuck up my application and not actually get to move to Spain. Of course that didn’t happen, but I definitely stressed myself out quardruple checking every single document and stressing over how I was going to get a recommendation letter from a professor I hadn’t spoken to in over three years. No fear. I’m here to help see you through!
First, let’s talk about the quailifications for being an auxiliar. We’ll call it your “Am I even allowed to do this?” checklist.
1) Are you American or Canadian?
2) Have you completed university or are you currently in your last year?
3) Is English or French your first language?
4) Are you in good physical and mental health? Obviously this is subject to opinion but you will need a medical evalution in order to apply for a visa
5) Do you have a clean criminal background check? Also subject to opinion regarding certain charges but it depends on your visa office
If you can give an affirmative answer to all of the above questions then you’re on your way. One important thing that I always like to mention is that there is no age limit for the program, and although the website states that most participants are between 21 and 35, I have found that most people fall between the range of 21 and 26. Still, don’t let that deter you from coming. For all my wiser prospective auxilares, I plan to write a post in the next few weeks about what it’s like being an auxiliar in the 25 and older crowd. The program manual (updated to be from 2017) also states that you should have basic Spanish skills but in my experience, there was no test of your Spanish skills. That said, the entire orientation is held in Spanish, so of course speaking the language would be useful.
Now, onto the shitshow that is the Profex system. Profex is the application system used by the program where you fill out your actual app and upload all of your documents. You also log into the system (obsessively, no doubt) to see when your application status has changed. I call it a shitshow because, on the first day that Profex submission opens, the system crashes. Without fail. Someone always freaks out saying they can’t log in, can’t upload their documents or the whole damn program just won’t open. Take a deep breath and relax. My suggestion is to wait a couple hours after the app window opens before submitting your application. You won’t get frustrated trying to send in your stuff and I can 99.9% guarantee that if you’re still planning to submit on the first day, you will get admitted to the program. I’ll do a longer post about Profex (AND WHY I KIND OF HATE IT) when we get closer to January 9.
Now, here’s a summary of the documents you will need to submit to apply for the Auxiliares program and how to get them.
2) A copy of the main page of your passport, preferably in color
3) A copy of your college transcripts or college degree (I sent my diploma…didn’t feel like paying for transcripts)
4) A signed and dated statement of purpose of no less than 250 words – So, so, so vague. I wanted to scream when I read this because there is literally no prompt as to what to write. My honest thought is that no one reads these, but in my essay of approx 300 words I said that I wanted to move to Spain to learn the language, learn about another culture, explore the idea of being a teacher and I mentioned the fact that I never got the chance to study abroad when I was in college. I also wrote my essay in English…didn’t want to make a fool out of myself.
5) Letter of recommendation from either a professor or employer – This part was tough for me. As I was four years out of college when I applied, it felt strange to ask a professor I hadn’t spoken to in at least three years for a rec letter, but I also wanted to follow the rules of the program which state that you should only get a letter from an employer if you’ve been out of school for five years. So here’s what I did. I had a professor in my journalism school that I really liked and always talked to, went to her office hours, etc. I hadn’t spoken to her in about three years, so when I emailed her I told her about the program, sent her a copy of my resume so she could see what I had been up to for the past three years and I gave her a month to get the letter back to me in time for me to submit it. This last part is VERY important. My mom is a college professor and nothing irks her more than when a student requests a recommendation letter and then is like “oh by the way, I need this tomorrow”. Don’t do that. You won’t get your letter and you’ll probably burn a bridge. My professor thought the program was super cool and was more than willing to help. Make sure he or she sends you an electronic copy (so you can upload it to Profex) written on your school’s letterhead. Here are additional letter guidelines from the program that you can share with your professor or employer.
6) New Yorkers need to submit an additional document that is on page 14 of this application guidelines manual. I have no idea why.
The only documents that need to be mailed to your regional contact are a signed and dated copy of the pdf that is generated after you submit your documents in Profex, a signed and dated copy of the checklist metioned above, and the special form for New Yorkers. Spearking of regional contacts, you can find a list of all regional contacts for the program on page 9 of the manual. Another note about the program manual, I know it seems like a giant snooze to read but it really has a lot of great, straightforward information in there about the auxiliares program. I highly suggest you read it before applying.
Now for the fun part, selecting your region! After all of your personal information is submitted, you can submit your regional preferences NOT YOUR CITY PREFERENCE. People always get this confused. Spain is broken down into different 18 regions so you can choose your top three preferences, one from each of the following groups:
Group A: Asturias, Cueta y Melilla, Extremadura, La Rioja, Navarra, País Vasco
Group B: Aragón, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Cataluña, Galicia, Islas Canarias
Group C: Andalucía, Castilla y León, Islas Baleares, Madrid, Murcia, Valencia
I suggest you invest in a map of Spain now. So here’s something fun that the program doesn’t tell you. Of all the regions listed to choose from, not all of them actually participate in the program. There is no real way to figure out who participates and who doesn’t unless you do some fishing on your own in the Facebook groups or on different online forums. For example, I listen Madrid as my first choice, followed by Cataluña and Navarra only to find out later that neither Cataluña nor Navarra were participating in the program that year. Well shit. Of course I panicked because if I didn’t get in Madrid, I would have ended up in a random ass region I didn’t select, but luckily Madrid accpets the most auxiliares out of all the regions, so it all worked out.
The regional preferences are followed by the type of city preferences: rural community, medium sized community, an urban community, or no preference. Then, the school preferences consist of primera, secondaria, or no preference. I chose secondaria for a variety of reasons (wanted to work with kids with a higher level of English, babies have germs, I like older students) and I absolutely love my high schoolers. That said, my roommate works at a primary school and loves it and always comes home with the most hilarious stories. To each their own!
After completing the online part in Profex, your application will become Inscrita and you will receive a number, as the program is mainly first come first serve. People FREAK OUT over this number but please calm the hell down. Last year, people who had numbers in the high 3000’s were accepted into the program by July or so, so there really is no need to worry. Last year my number was 1953 and I was accepted around the beginning of June, giving me plenty of time to get all my visa paperwork done before moving. When the regional coordinator receives all of your hard documents the status is changed to Registrada. When you receive a placement, your status will change to Admitada. Boom.
So, what are your thoughts on the auxiliares program? Are you going to apply? Do you have any specific questions I didn’t cover? Let me know below!