So you want to apply for the auxiliares de conversación/North American language and culture assistants program? Here’s a primer of information to help you get your application ready when they open in January. The program FAQ is here so you have an idea of what you’re applying for.
I recommend using Winter Break of school to get yourself all prepared, though make sure your professors aren’t going to be unavailable to give you a letter of recommendation.
- Start early– applications are processed first come, first serve. This means that the earlier you apply and get all your paperwork submitted, the more likely you are to get into the program and into your #1 regional choice. Have everything ready to go before the application opens so that all you have to do when it does is submit. When you do so, you are given an application (inscrita) number based on when you applied. It’s said that if you add 1,000 to your number and the result is under 5,000 you should be pretty confident of getting in. Last year, I applied 40 minutes after the application opened and was inscrita number 269.
- Get the following paperwork ready and scanned into PDFs: 1) a scan of your passport, 2) a small headshot, 3) an official college transcript/scan of diploma, 4) 250-300 word long cover letter addressed to the coordinator of your region, 5) a letter of recommendation (up to 250 words) from a professor [or employer if you graduated more than three years ago] on OFFICIAL LETTERHEAD.
- Read the application guidelines and follow the checklist for documents
- The program that processes applications is called PROFEX. It is all in Spanish and a little difficult to understand, so look through the PROFEX manual. You can access PROFEX here and input your biographical information before the applications open. I recommend doing this because it will help you get your application in as fast as possible, which is VERY IMPORTANT. Google Chrome always tells me the connection to the site is unsafe, but I think it’s just because of the international domain name.
- Do your research! Google the program, find blogs of people who have done the program and figure out which region you want to choose. Also look at the Auxiliares de Conversación 20XX-20XX Facebook group. Fill in the previous year’s dates where the Xs are. These are full of people who have done the program and also people in the process of applying, and are a treasure trove of helpful information and advice. PROFEX lists the regions in three columns. Column 1 includes Asturias, Ceuta & Melilla, Extremedura, La Rioja, Navarra and Pais Vasco. Column 2 includes Aragón, Cantabria, Castilla la Mancha, Cataluña, Galicia and the Canary Islands. Column 3 includes Andalucia, Castilla León, the Balearic Islands, Madrid, Murcia and Valencia. You can pick one region from each column, and then must rank the columns in order of preference. Use this to inform your research– be sure to choose wisely from among the columns because you cannot select more than one from each. Also note that while all regions are listed here, not all participate in the program. This last year Cataluña resumed participation after not participating for a few years and individuals who first received notifications from Cantabria were informed the program had shut down and they would be reassigned to new regions.
November: Look into the program and research the specifics of each region. The regions pay differently (Madrid placements get €300 a month more to make up for the higher cost of living)
December: Get all your application paperwork together. Make sure to ask your professor for a letter of recommendation before they leave for Winter Break! Also request an official transcript before the end of term if your school closes for the holiday. Upload everything to PROFEX as soon as you can and fill out the biographical information. Check the Auxiliares de Conversación website to see if they’ve posted yet when the application opens. Find and join the Auxiliares Facebook group for the year and ask any questions you have before the application opens.
January: Check the Auxiliares de Conversación website regularly to see when the applications open. Last year, it opened January 12. Once it does, open and submit it as soon as you can so you can get a placement where you prefer!
February-May: Relax, work on your Spanish skills and focus on the rest of your semester. Notifications will begin probably around mid-May. Make sure to accept your placement on PROFEX as soon as you can! If you don’t within 3 days (including the weekend) your spot is forfeited.