"it is a very varied job, and I like that": meet Håvard, electromechanical technician from Norway

I get to challenge myself in areas and with technology you don’t see any other place in the world.

Hello Håvard, Tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to CERN?

My name is Håvard Hålien and I’m 36 years old. I come from a mountain valley in Norway called Valdres. Most of my life I have been interested in mechanical stuff and loved fixing and repairing things. So it was natural that this should be my path in education as well. I worked many years for a company that produced various kinds of industrial tools and parts for auto and offshore/subsea industry, to mention a few. After this I went back to school to continue my education, and shortly after that I started working in the development department for a company making rocket engines for aerospace and defence.

It was at this time I read a Norwegian article about CERN. I had heard about CERN before, but I did not know they where looking for people from Norway and other member states. So to cut a long story short, after a few attempts I landed a job at CERN. I packed all my stuff in boxes, rented out my house and put the most essential things I needed in my Volkswagen LT31 1983 model campervan. This was now my house, and also my means of transport to get from Norway to CERN in Switzerland. A good friend joined me on this trip and we spend three days driving (without any problems) before we reached CERN. It was a great trip!

What do you do at CERN today?

Today I work as a Electromechanical Technician in the normal conducting magnets (NCM) section. I work mainly with magnets and things related to the SPS machine. It can be anything from building a magnet, making specifications, designing, going down in the SPS machine checking for faults, or installing new parts. 

What is working at CERN like for you?

Working at CERN is very nice, it is a very varied job, and I like that. Every day is different, and I get to challenge myself in areas and with technology you don’t see any other place in the world. And people here are very supportive, they like to share their knowledge. And if you are wondering something, it is easy to get in contact with an expert that can help you here at CERN.  People are in general very helpful here. 

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

I would say that I have been very well taken care of here at CERN, but of course the language is a bit of a challenge. Often French is the main communication language in technical environments here. But after completing a few French courses this gets easier.  I also ended up living in my campervan for the first two months I was here, and summer 2019 was HOT! (at least for a Norwegian). But in the end this was a very good way to get to know the area and decide on a place I would live. And the area around CERN is beautiful. 

What advice would you give potential applicants?

I would definitely recommend people to apply for a position here, and even if you get a negative answer the first time you apply, don’t give up. I tried a few times before I landed my position. And if you are called for an interview, prepare well, and also take the time to visit the area, so you have an idea where you would be living. I visited the area when I was here for the interview, and this was also a factor for moving here for work. If you like to ski or hike this is an incredible place to live - you are close to the best ski resorts in the world. Combine this with a very cool and interesting job, and it should be a “no-brainer”. 

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