CERN is a fascinating place with brilliant people who, if you want, will to help you grow.
Hi Flory, tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to CERN?
I am Flory ten Broeke, I am 21 years old. I come from Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where I studied Fine Mechanics for four years. Today at CERN, I work at the Cryolab as a Technician Training Experience fellow, on a new Cryocooler which will measure the dilatation of a small piece of the magnet while cooling it down or warming it up. It was designed by a colleague of mine, whom I joined in the last months of his contract. We spoke a lot about the design, and how it could be improved. It was interesting to combine our strengths, with his design experience and my experience in how you make parts. Now I am overseeing the order of all the parts to make sure that the Cryocooler is built.
Did you meet any challenges along the way?
For me, the first year of CERN brought a different challenge to what I had expected. CERN is my first real work experience after graduating. When I had the opportunity to apply, I never thought that I would be hired. When I started, I was thrilled that I got accepted — excited about the job that I was going to do. I began in Cryogenic Mechanical Engineering but soon I noticed that this was not what I would like to do. After six months, my motivation was decreasing, and I started to feel I wanted to leave CERN.
At this moment, I knew something had to change. So I turned to HR who was a big help, and namely the programme coordinator Céline. We spoke many times and showed me the opportunities I had. She asked me to know what you don’t like, and what you want. With her support and guidance, my motivation slowly came back, and I was able to better explain what I would like to do. It is exceptional for me that a company helps you find this.
I finally got the opportunity to move to the Cryolab and do something that motivated me more with more space for working and learning. I am thrilled to work here, in a very motivated group that works hard to get results but also to transfer their knowledge as much as possible. One of the biggest lessons I have learned at CERN is that you need to talk to people; people cannot automatically sense that you do not like what you are doing or that you are not happy. It is also essential that you say when you are pleased with what you are doing. I do not mean that you will do every day what you love to do. But find a place where you do something that you like and look forward to.
What have you learned and where are you going now?
My contract was initially for a year, then I got an extension for another 6 months, which made me think again ‘what next?’. I started to search for a new job and realised working at CERN opens many doors for you. I was asked if I would be interested in applying for a staff position at CERN, and many questions followed for me: what is the job, what will I do, do I want this? I decided to apply.
I passed the first round of the process, the second and then the onsite interview. You do not know what to expect if you have never done one. Expect to be nervous, but that is not a bad thing and it can even be good: they get to know you better and you get to know them better. One of the questions they asked me was ‘okay, you moved from one place to another, and now you want to move again, what impression should we get from that?’ I know that it doesn't give the best impression, but I learned and grew in the process of getting here, on what I want, and how you find out how to get there. Which questions to ask and to talk to as many people who will share their experience with you. I got the job, and in September, I will start in my new group. Is the motivation there? Yes! I am very excited!
CERN brought me many opportunities to learn how to communicate with different nationalities, through groups, jobs, people you meet. At work I had many opportunities such as giving presentations about CERN to young children to motivate them. Helping with organising events, transferring my knowledge. Meeting people from over the world and making friends I then visited in their homes. The surrounding area is also beautiful. Hiking in the mountains and swimming in the lake in the Summer, snowboarding and skiing in Winter. CERN is a fascinating place with brilliant people who, if you want, will to help you grow. It has been a fantastic year for me.
What advice would you give potential applicants?
Don't have any doubts about applying! Always try. Do some research on the group where you will work, ask as many questions as you can. It is an excellent place, where people appreciate that you took the time to figure out if you will like the place. And if you do like it, you will work at your very best!
If you're interested in seizing the opportunity to join CERN as a technician on the Technician Training Experience, don't hesitate: apply now: https://cern.ch/tte