[CMS Stories] From going to kindergarten in CERN to working at CMS almost 15 years later

Guest post by Marina Arnau Alemany

If you are thinking about applying for a job at CERN, don't hesitate! Go for it! Whichever the department and job position, I guarantee you will have an amazing time!

I applied to the “Child of staff” program as soon as the portal opened, around the beginning of the year. I was super excited and happy when I got the selection confirmation a few months later! 
I have known CERN since forever because the kindergarten I used to go to as a kid was inside the Meyrin site (yes, CERN has a kindergarten!) and knew it would be a great place to work in if the occasion ever presented itself.

Although I am in the middle of a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, I knew that it would be interesting to undertake a summer job there whichever the field. Actually, until the first day I had no idea what to expect. But I got so much more than I could have ever imagined. 

I was posted at CMS, and helped the Secretariat, the Personal/Team Assistant and the Visits department. In the Secretariat, I did a wide range of activities such as framing diplomas, putting up posters, helping with the new orders of the CMS’ merch and printing student badges. Because I was there during the CMS week, I also had the opportunity to help in the organisation and attend the CMS party in CERN’s Restaurant!

Group photo during the CMS Week in June. Credits: Sofia Hurst.
Group photo during the CMS Week in June. Credits: Sofia Hurst.

Throughout the month, I also assisted Inna Berezhetska at CMS Visits, who is in charge of coordinating/organizing visits, communicating with guides, and handling the visitors and guides feedback, among many other things. My work focused mainly on the visitors' feedback and guides lists. I made over 700 visitor feedback cards (this being said, if you ever visit CMS, please grab one and scan it!), and refurbished the questionnaire behind them. I also updated the guides database. It was a long and repetitive process but working with Inna in the Building 40 atrium and at CMS Point 5 was really enjoyable and punctuated by nice coffee breaks! Moreover, Inna kindly arranged a private visit to the CMS experiment in which we got to see the experimental cavern! 

Marina in front of the CMS “wall of fame” at Point 5. Credits: Inna Berzhetska
Marina in front of the CMS “wall of fame” at Point 5. Credits: Inna Berzhetska

I also worked with Dawn Hudson, undoubtedly one of the pillars of CMS. Officially, Dawn is the Personal/Team Assistant, but her job actually goes from helping with CMS visits, organising/coordinating CMS inductions, conferences, workshops and events, to handling broken coffee machines. She also deals with a long list of other matters that are one to many to write down in this blog! I helped Dawn by sorting out some things from the long to-do-list including, checking the accuracy of links on a CMS website,, registering inductees, and setting up a buffet for the CMS Induction. I was really lucky as between tasks, Dawn invited me to go wine tasting with the students and to go on a guided visit of the LEIR (Long Energy Ion Ring) and the Data Centre!

This experience has been fantastic and everyday was different! There is always so much to do at CERN and it has a lot of perks: the people are super nice, you can wear flip-flops (not everywhere of course… there are places where safety shoes are mandatory), Restaurant 1 has a lot of food, it's bike-friendly, there is air conditioning (most of the time), there are ping-pong tables at your disposal, and at the end of the day, you are only a tram ride away from the Lac Léman!

Working at CERN for a month I have learned to use new softwares, and have perfected my use of Google forms and Excel. I can also confidently say that I am an expert at laminating paper and cutting with the guillotine. Besides, I have learnt a lot about CERN and CMS at scientific and organisational levels. During this month I have also had the opportunity to network, meeting wonderful and passionate people, especially at CMS, where they are genuinely convinced that it is the best experiment. And aren't they right after all? 
I sure wish I could have worked there for the whole summer!

A huge thank you to the Secretariat ladies for being so kind and welcoming, and to my supervisors Dawn and Inna for making my time at CERN an enjoyable and interesting experience!


Disclaimer: The views expressed in CMS blogs are personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent official views of the CMS collaboration.