"I was excited about CERN for a long time": meet Ervin, technical student at CERN

CERN is still an out-of-this-world place but it is far more than that. It is also a philosophy and a spirit.

Meet Ervin, former CERN Technical student who shared this story recently on Linkedin to share his experience of his time with our unique Organization. An inspiring story, an inspiring journey. One you could make too! Whether you're a student, a graduate or an experienced professional, we have opportunities across a wide variety of disciplines so that you too can take part. Apply now

Here's Ervin's story:

"I took this photo on February 3, 2020. It was my first day at CERN. I just had met my supervisor in person and we went to R2 for lunch. On the way to R2, he offered me a small tour around the Meyrin site.

I was excited about CERN for a long time. There was always a quiet voice that said “imagine being part of this”. This might sound odd but even thinking of being part of CERN was a joy and made me happy. It was the enthusiasm to achieve outstanding goals together with outstanding people that made me feel being part of the CERN spirit, to learn with others and to share what I have learned. Although there was this quiet voice that I heard, I did not listen to it and I never really thought of actually going to CERN.

During my vacations in 2019, I had the honor to meet lovely new people for a dinner in the Swiss Alps in the canton of Berne. It turned out, that they both work at CERN and yes, they are both physicists. For me, a truly amazing moment on its own. However, we had a great dinner and a great conversation. I explained to them my fascination for science and my enthusiasm for engineering and for CERN in particular. I said something like “A dream would came true if I would join CERN”. This was followed by a short moment of silence. For them, this sentence was just not complete and they asked “and? … why don’t you apply for a position?”

Although I had always loved the idea of being part of CERN, I never ever really thought of applying. At the time, it seemed obvious to me that CERN is an out-of-this-world place where everyone is like Einstein and Dirac. Of course, a simple electronics engineer like me would just not fit in. They explained to me that my understanding of CERN is wrong. In hindsight, my views were really silly and embarrassing. Yes, CERN needs the brightest and most enthusiastic people to achieve its outstanding goals. However, these people are just people like you and me. The CERN staff is just a fraction of all the people that are contributing. They are not the participants of the firth Solvay conference but highly skilled and hard-working people from all kinds of fields and not just physics.

After my vacations, I was reflecting this discussion many times. I asked myself, what can I lose? What if I get rejected? Well, then everything goes on as it is. If I do get chosen, then I would enter a truly amazing place, my dream would come true, and I would get an experience that I will never regret. At this point, I knew what I had to do: Ask my wife for permission ;)

Some months later, I found myself in this almost surreal situation where I am standing in front of a sign of the Proton Synchrotron. After reading these words in so many pictures, books, and articles, I was finally there to see it on my own. I know, its just a sign. There is no superconducting magnet nor a fancy detector to see. However, even seeing this simple sign in its humble and elegant white and blue design, made me happy and excited.

For me, CERN is still an out-of-this-world place but it is far more than that. It is also a philosophy and a spirit. I have learned that we do not join jobs but we join companies. Although I was already working as an engineer before, I do not regret for a second taking part at CERN as a technical student during my master program. I loved the experience despite the lockdown that followed only a few weeks later.

I would like to encourage all my fellow colleagues that hear this same quiet voice saying “imagine being part of this” to not just hear this voice but listen to it.

At this point, I want to say thank you to all the lovely people that made my dream came true. There are so many to be thankful like my parents, my brother, my wife, every teacher and professor of every class I ever attended, all the people that wrote a recommendation letter for me, all my coworkers from industry, the lovely physicists I met in Switzerland, CERN’s HR team, all my colleagues form the beams department, and of course my supervisor!"