"To others out there, I would say working at CERN is fun and exciting, don’t be deterred: if you think your skills match a job that is advertised, apply and try! You never know."
I come from the petrochemical industry and my studies were in refinery process operations. This led me to become a stand in shift supervisor at the Milford Haven Murco oil refinery, where I worked many years. When the refinery was having difficulties and talks of closure started, I started looking for process operator jobs. I’d heard about CERN through newspapers and TV documentaries, and when I saw a process operator post there, I thought ‘wow, what an opportunity!’. As I met the criteria, I applied but didn’t think in a million years I’d get the job!
I joined in 2012 as a cryogenics process operator, working on shift to run and operate the cryo equipment required to cool the magnets, power lines and other LHC equipment. Communication is key in this job, it’s the most important aspect of successful team work and we’re frequently solving problems with other teams.
I like CERN for the diversity of cultures, the great learning experience that it is and also for the opportunity to learn French. I can’t deny it was hard going the first few months, but with intensive courses I can now converse easily. My family and I also decided to live a little further away for more immersion in the French culture which has been very good. Everyone here is so easy to get on with, there’s always someone to help you, someone who has shared the experience who can advise you. Another challenge I’d say is the sheer size of the CERN site, with the many points around the 27km ring, I use my satnav to this day to find my way!
Living in the Geneva area is like living in a picture postcard. Summer is amazing, and I have never experienced a winter like it! It’s a very family oriented place, and it has certainly brought us closer together.
For me, working at CERN is the ideal job. You get challenge, enjoyment, and you meet people. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted and it is rewarding to be given responsibility and see the impact of my contribution.