"The integration at CERN is smooth and finding new friends is easy as there are plenty of clubs to take part in and wild activities all year round to keep you busy."
I studied engineering in the UK but always had a keen eye for physics, and my initial years working for a company that produced superconducting magnets brought my attention closer to CERN. At first I felt as though it was a long shot to apply for the Volontaires Internationaux Trainee programme but I was encouraged by a friend who previously had a contract and so I went for it and couldn't be more glad of the decision.
Most of my time is spent designing for the magnet development team; I can be found working with PhD physicists helping them bring their ideas and concepts into reality through 3D design. I also work closely with the assembly of small test magnets that are used for research and development for improving the large magnets used in the large CERN experiments.
It is hard to compare to any previous job I have had, it is easier to imagine it as a University because of the social events, open minded people, cultural abundance and access to all the engineering resources you could dream of. This makes it very easy to stay focused on your projects, to get support from everyone and being able to yourself contribute into the growing pool of knowledge.
The relocation from UK to Switzerland was perhaps the biggest challenge; finding a place to live, familiarising myself with the area and buying a car. All of which the large CERN community helped with greatly, support is found around every corner and there are plenty of people who have personal experience and good advice.
At work I can see improving my French will help communicate better, so I am looking forward to the free courses provided by CERN
You don't need to be the top student in your class or have amazing grades, all you need is a lust for learning and eagerness to get involved. The integration at CERN is smooth and finding new friends is easy as there are plenty of clubs to take part in and wild activities all year round to keep you busy.