"Working at CERN: before it was a dream, now it's a tremendous opportunity!"
I first studied IT and graphic design and then, through evening classes, completed a high school diploma specialised in surveying. This may seem a rather atypical route but both diplomas link up in what really interests me: science and technology.
In the last years, I have held various roles in various places, and most recently in Brussels where I worked as system engineer in the aerospace industry.
I have known CERN since the 90’s from TV documentaries and I can say that my journey to work here is one of perseverance. I didn’t believe I’d ever have the chance to work for CERN. It was amazing when I first received an invitation for an interview! The first time didn’t work out but I kept on trying, and I finally made it after my third application.
I am now working on what is often taken for granted: bringing network to users so they can comfortably do their work. It sounds pretty simple but it isn’t! It’s a matter of planning with other services, coordinating contractors’ work, and checking that’s done properly. Safety is a major issue here, one CERN takes very seriously and it is also at the top of everyone’s priority list.
What’s interesting is that, although CERN is at the forefront of technology, in terms of network we prefer to install and operate ‘tried and trusted’ technological solutions to be absolutely certain they will work in this complex setting. At the same time, we search, test and test again anything new that comes on the market.
Relations with suppliers are different to those we usually have in the private sector: we may not be the biggest customer in the world but we’re a quality user. We deal directly with suppliers as CERN is a place where the modifications and improvements we request can also lead to improvements in suppliers’ products, so it’s win-win. Another highlight for me is working so much in the field: I get to meet many people, and as I am curious, I get to learn about the innermost workings of CERN. Recently I learned the essentials of radiofrequency, which is the motor of the LHC. It was fascinating. I am also training to become a CERN guide, a very enriching experience – I’m learning all the time! As for the human aspect, the relations you build here are very special, in a climate of trust and collaboration.
I think everyone who works at CERN has an incredible opportunity to learn, grow and develop both professionally and personally which shouldn’t be missed. I count my blessings that I have a 5-year contract here and I intend to make the very most of it: it is rare in the private sector to be encouraged to study and better yourself all the time. It’s a great way to prepare for one’s future and a fantastic entry on your CV!
Working at CERN to me is a childhood dream come true. A great, exceptional opportunity if you give it your all.