Meet Vaggelis, Big Data Engineer in CERN's IT Department

From a small town in Northern Greece to big data at CERN, meet Vaggelis

Κάθε φορά ακούω την ίδια ερώτηση “Εμένα; Σιγά μην πάρουν εμένα!”.
Κάθε φορά απαντάω το ίδιο! “Και γιατί όχι;”
Every time I face the same question “Me? Why should they hire me?”.
Every time I give the same response! “Well, why not you?”

Hi Vaggelis, tell us a little about yourself and how you came to CERN.
I come from Florina, a small town in Northern Greece and I studied at the Department of Informatics in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. I first came to CERN as a Summer Student in 2013. After this short yet interesting internship, I pursued postgraduate studies at Imperial College in London, and then I came back as a Technical Student in October 2015. One year later, I left CERN to work for the industry, but in February 2017, I returned ‘home’ to work as a Fellow. I think it is rather obvious that I can’t stay away from CERN. 

What is your role at CERN?
For the past two years, I worked as a Big Data Engineer in the IT Department, supporting the scientific communities at CERN in their quest to perform big data analytics over physics and accelerator data. I am now very excited to start a new role as a Technical Coordinator of the ARCHIVER project, the aim of which is to perform R&D to develop data archiving and preservation cloud-based services for the research community while ensuring that research groups will retain total ownership of their data.

What is working at CERN like for you?
It is difficult for me to find words to describe it, but it is such a unique place to work for! For a person that gets excited by data like myself, it is a place like no other in the world.
Some days ago, a colleague asked me if I could share with him a small dataset for a simple test. We both laughed loudly when my response was “Sure, I have a 50 TB dataset in this shared folder, help yourself”.
What I also appreciate is how much CERN focuses on education and knowledge transfer. Ι am excited when it comes to science communication to the wider public, so it was a great opportunity for me to participate to at least four different conferences/schools as an invited speaker in the past one year.
But it is not only about work. The proximity to nature, the Alps on our doorstep, the incredible ski resorts, the lakes, and the fantastic hiking trails make my weekends exciting and something to wait for.
The weather is also amazing for my - believe me, very high - Mediterranean standards. Having lived in Dublin, London, and even India for a short time, I can say with confidence that Geneva has by far one of the best climates, which combines everything: it allows you to go swimming or sunbathing in the lakes during summer and of course, you can do all kinds of different winter sports in winter.
And after all these, on Monday you can still go to work and get to say that you work in the place ‘where the Web was born’ -  I am sure you can imagine how cool this is!

What advice would you give to potential applicants?
Every time I advise someone to apply at CERN, I face the same -full of hesitation- question: “Me? Why should they hire me?” and every time I give the same response: “Well, why not you?”
If you dream about working at CERN, by all means, go ahead and apply! You will be excited and delighted to realize that an acceptance mail by CERN is not “science fiction” at all.

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