James, TTE Technician, Electricity and Radiofrequency

United Kingdom

"It feels amazing to be here - I still drive home thinking ‘wow’."

Did you have any hesitations about joining the CERN TTE programme?

I was nervous at the prospect of moving to a new country, away from my friends and family , starting a new life alone where I knew no-one. But I decided to give it a try, thinking I wouldn’t get the job… and I did!

So what do you do here at CERN?

I have been here just over a year and work as an electrical technician in the radiofrequency group of CERN’s Beams Department. I actually inject RF into accelerating cavities for linear accelerators, the LINACs, which is the first stage of particle acceleration before entering the acceleration complex. I started on the SPS; the Super Proton Synchrotron for the first 6 months, then moved to the LINACs.

I have to say this was a huge learning curve, I had never worked with RF before, and coming from the power industry to CERN is a completely different field. I prepared myself by reading up on RF before I came and the team have been really supportive and patient. One year on, I have learned so much! I never thought I would know how to accelerate particles inside a cavity…

What were the challenges when you arrived?

I joined a French team, which when you speak no French is a challenge and they struggled with my accent. It was difficult at first to get over the language barrier but with perseverance and French classes I am getting there.

What are the highlights of working here?

It’s a great international team, learning a new language is a bonus, and this area is great for its lakes and mountains, snowboarding every winter… I’m working on state-of-the-art technology and learning so much. I feel proud to be here, and my family are proud.

Any particular messages to other aspiring technicians out there?

Don’t be afraid to apply! It’s not just about your past experience, it’s all about your personality too. And spending time on your application form to get it right makes the difference.

It feels amazing to be here - I still drive home thinking ‘wow’. It seems unreal, working in Switzerland, living in France, having achieved a dream I never thought would ever come true.

How cool is that?

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