From the water treatment industry to RF systems at CERN: discover Abigail's journey on the CERN Technician Training Experience.

Working at CERN is an amazing opportunity and is life changing for a young engineer like myself.

Hi Abigail, Tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to CERN? 

Hi, I’m Abigail, I’m 23 years old and I’m from Warrington, a town in the North-West of England. I started my journey at CERN in July 2020. Before I started at CERN I was an Apprentice Engineer in the UK water treatment industry, focusing on design. I had previously visited CERN in January 2017 on a college trip but never imagined I would one day work here.  I knew of CERN and the work that is done here but always imagined staff would require university degrees and years of relevant experience. I was contacted on LinkedIn by a member of the CERN talent acquisition team informing me of the Technician Training Experience (TTE programme). I spoke with the talent acquisition team who answered all my questions and I decided to apply.  In February 2020 I received the news I had been accepted and my CERN journey began.

What do you do at CERN today?

I am a Mechanical Technician on the Technician Training Experience, working within the Amplifiers and Couplers section within the SY-RF department.  The team is responsible for maintaining and operating CERN’s RF systems. Radio frequency (RF) is used to accelerate the beams, the team receives the signals and we amplify the signals and send them below into the cavities. I have participated in many different activities with the team such reassembling the SPS cavities when I arrived, to now preparing new drawings for the next upgrades. I have also been given the task of working alongside other sections to prepare the team's documentation for new parts and procedures, ensuring all documentation is prepared correctly and entered into the system. 

What is working at CERN like for you?

Working at CERN is an amazing opportunity and is life changing for a young engineer like myself. The work is fast paced and every day is different, which keeps it very exciting. Working alongside experienced members of the section I have learnt a lot in my time here. Every member of staff I have worked with is always happy to answer questions and explain their work to me. In the beginning I was very shy about asking questions as I did not want to ask any ‘stupid’ ones, but I quickly found there are no ‘stupid’ questions and people like it when you engage and ask questions about their work.

What have been the main hurdles or challenges you encountered along the way?

The main hurdle I have found has been being away from family. Starting in the midst of the pandemic was difficult as it was not possible to visit family and friends back home as often as I thought I could- but being at CERN many people were in the same position and I have found friends for life during my time here, even spending Christmas with my colleagues. 

What advice would you give potential applicants?

Normal V. Peale said “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” just because you think something is impossible or may not have been in your original plan, doesn’t mean it’s not attainable or part of a new journey you couldn’t imagine for yourself. Take a risk and step outside of your comfort zone because it just might change your life. If you have any questions reach out to a member of staff, they will always try to help you as best as they can and give you as much information as you need. Finally, I would say make a LinkedIn profile as that is how I found out about the opportunity, you never know who is watching! 

Abigail