"Opportunities will always come where you least expect them!": meet Jamie, taking part in the Technician Training Experience programme at CERN.

Jamie, tell us about yourself and your first encounter with CERN

I’ve always loved science, and took physics and chemistry through sixth form at school, and got the opportunity to visit the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s (RAL) Diamond Light Source in my final year. From that point it was pretty much set that that is exactly where I wanted to be; working on these huge machines for science. I was a mechanical engineering apprentice at RAL for four years, and from this I had the chance to work abroad in Grenoble's ILL and ESRF and fell in love with France, its culture and the people. Just a couple of months in France opened my eyes to working abroad and I knew I had to leave. I made a plan, I knew I wanted to work in certain experiments and of course the top of my list was CERN. At this point I had the ‘Air core toroid’ poster of ATLAS on my wall and I knew someday I’d get there. At the same time, I had dedicated a lot of time back in the UK into careers events and educational shows for children all over Oxfordshire for STEMnet. They then invited me to their national awards as a finalist that year where the representatives from CERN approached me. Coincidently the reps were working for my company but at CERN and wanted to let me know about the great opportunities at CERN for technicians like me. I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t think there was any chance that at 22 I’d be moving to Geneva to work on the very experiment I’d had hung on my wall for four years. I always wanted to work on big machines for science, but I didn’t think I would be working on the largest machine on the planet so soon!

My personal experiences, challenges and highlights at CERN

I must say that moving here was a massive culture shock for me. I’ve not really been outside of England compared to some others and so moving in with some Italians, working with a French technical team, and having a seat in an office that represents more than 12 nationalities was daunting to say the least. So many new identities, languages and cultures that I had never been exposed to before. I stayed mostly to myself at first with my technical team and couldn’t communicate well as I couldn’t speak any French whatsoever. Luckily CERN gave me the basics of the language with a French course, and for the next year I practised with friends, learning more and more. I had been in the office for almost a year away from the team so when I came back they met a new person, able to easily communicate and join conversations both work related and socially. Now I’ll go weeks at work without speaking English and I’m proud of that.

My messages to other candidates

Opportunities will always come where you least expect them! A chance to work abroad was an obvious adventure into new territory but offering to help out at an event, giving a tour, or just showing people what you can do turns into an amazing chance to network, find out about new possibilities and even new careers… but it takes a little courage on your part to take the plunge, to make that first step, to give a talk, or even simply clicking that ‘submit’ button for that job you’ve always fancied. It’s always easier to see the opportunities you’ve missed, and to imagine that it never would have happened anyway. Rejection is scary but it costs you nothing just to say ‘Yes’ - Take part!

Are you interested in taking part in CERN's Technician Training Experience, or TTE programme? Don't hesitate and apply now (by 19th May)! www.cern.ch/tte