"Never say never. Even if you think your profession has no place here, you might be surprised": meet Jonas, Technician trainee at CERN.

CERN cares immensely about health, safety and the environment and wants to make sure that everyone returns home safe and sound after the work is done.

CERN has attractive opportunities for newly qualified technicians to experience work at the cutting edge of technology, across all technical disciplines including system administration, work supervision, mechanics, electronics, radiation protection, computing and many more... as well as media design: read Jonas' story for inspiration, and take part: join the Technician Training Experience.

Hi Jonas, tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to CERN? 

Hi there! I am Jonas Zechner, a media designer fellow in the educational programme “Technician Training Experience (TTE)” since summer 2020. As a German growing up in Brazil's tropical south, I have spent my life bouncing between both countries, exposed continuously to multicultural environments. After high school, I decided to stay in Munich, Germany, and start my technical school diploma in media design.
Alongside my profession as a media designer, I took part in an international design competition with friends, in which I researched and analysed the safety and ergonomic aspects of an off-road biking concept for people with lower mobility limitation. A totally new area for me at the time yet it was awarded the prize for the "most future-forward concept".

The experience I gained opened doors for me to be considered for a position in the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Unit at CERN. I was contacted by a very friendly CERN talent acquisition professional who had found me through LinkedIn.
First, I could not believe that someone from CERN was writing to me because I might be a good fit for an open position. But after some message exchanges, I finally understood that it was a real opportunity.
The application process was simple and straightforward. After a few days, I was contacted by the HR department for an interview, for which I prepared as best I could. Shortly after, I received the great news that I had been selected for the TTE fellowship.

What do you do at CERN today?

My mission as a TTE fellow in the Safety Training section within the HSE Unit, is to develop, design and implement highly informative and, at the same time understandable training media in the safety domain. These training media, which are e-learning, teacher slides, posters, flyers etc., have to appeal the entire multicultural CERN population! To do this, my supervisor and I meet the safety experts and topic owners to discuss and understand the desired learning contents and objectives. Then we break down this information into an instructional form. This form can be quizzes, videos and gamification for e-learnings and group work, practical exercises and drills for classroom courses. At CERN's Safety Training Centre, we have, for example, a large mock-up of a part of the LHC tunnel to simulate the work environment and to train workers to behave correctly in different situations in a realistic scenario. Pretty cool, right?
In simple words, CERN cares immensely about health, safety and the environment and wants to make sure that everyone returns home safe and sound after the work is done. And we at Safety Training play our part. 

What is working at CERN like for you?

In a very humble way, I can say it is amazing. I have always dreamed of one day being part of an enjoyable international environment, where I can gain and develop my expertise so that I can pass on this knowledge in the future. But CERN is far beyond my expectations. As a TTE fellow, you receive a substantial investment. You will find many opportunities to connect with the world, professionally and even privately, making good friends. This fertile ground opens up opportunities to improve your career and yourself.
In general, the Organization offers many ways to develop professionally. One example is CERN's dedicated community portal, the Learning Hub, which offers numerous professional courses. At the moment I am doing an intensive French course which I am really enjoying.
Other than that, it is rewarding to know that I am helping, even if indirectly, scientists to understand the universe that surrounds us.  

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

Making sure I have all the necessary documents and things done correctly after moving here in the area took an immense amount of energy. In the middle of a pandemic, it was even more difficult. The situation was overwhelming, but I had fantastic support from HR, my team and my supervisor. 
CERN also has a wonderful portal that helps newcomers know what they need to do before moving into the area. 
Starting a new job is always intimidating, but with my team's support, I quickly got into my work rhythm.

What advice would you give potential applicants?

Never say never. Even if you think your profession has no place here, you might be surprised. CERN is much more than just engineers and physicists. As in any other large organisation, a wide variety of professions is needed, including designers of all kinds. And if you are lucky enough to be selected, just pack all your good vibes in a bag and bring them to the site. Everyone will be happy to welcome you!