Radiation Protection Group

Hi Maeva, tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to CERN.

My name is Maeva Rimlinger, I am 26 years old and I started working at CERN in late 2016 as a temporary contract for two and a half years. Now I am a fellow (CERN's graduate programme) since April 2019. What brought me to CERN is an opportunity and a decision I had to make when I was 21 years old. I was in the final stage of my internship with IRSN (Institut pour la Radioprotection et la Sureté Nucleaire) in Paris and I had both job proposal, one from IRSN which was an indefinite contract and the temporary contract from CERN (18 months at first). I took the shot and refuse the contract from IRSN and tried the one from CERN. As you can guess, it worked out!

What is working at CERN like for you?

The people you are working with are good listeners and advisers. I made some amazing friendship and it makes work even more satisfying and effortless. My supervisor is like my mentor, he does not “boss” me, his objective is to give me as much knowledge and possibilities as possible while being also demanding in the work I do. Also, in the transition from a temporary contract to a young fellow, the expectation is bigger and leads to new study and public visibility as I already participated in four articles (two being already published) and one that I am currently working on as first author. Overall, working at CERN has no other match in the world but it is definitely something you have to work hard for but if you do well, it is a complete dream.

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

I work at CERN as an engineer-technician in radioactive waste elimination which mean that I mainly work with old radioactive equipment (such as old dismantled magnet) or hazardous waste (used targets). Gamma spectrometry at CERN is unique and complex. In fact, some spectrums are so complex that it takes weeks to give results and hours to verify each identify radionuclides. This is the most exciting and challenging part for me because I had little to no experience in gamma spectrometry analysis. As of right now, I am currently working on a project to eliminate burnable waste. I had never manage a project before so this is definitely something new and exciting for me. This project involves a lot of traceability management which is primordial especially when you have more than 27 000 radioactive waste items, 4000 of which are meant to be treated this year with this project.

What advice would you give to potential applicants?

To begin with, I would say that you have to understand that CERN is a unique place and there are a lot of people, as good and talented as you are, who want to join and be a part of this amazing project; but unfortunately not everyone can. Because of this, if you apply I suggest to stay positive no matter the result. You will always have other opportunities out there.

Another point I’d like to address is to keep your personality as it is. Be authentic. What I mean is that I stay true to myself in every situations and with everyone. No need to have a “job personality”, people will see it’s fake and it makes the relationship you have with your colleagues less trustworthy, in my opinion. Be yourself and it will work perfectly fine.

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