🔬 Things I learnt working at CERN.

I was contracted for only 1 year and it felt toxic. There were a lot of pluses so there's that.
  1. It's a privilege to work at CERN. And it was one for me.
    But there's more. [Thats Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly behind her. Her mobility was probably at 60% then.
  2. You're value is only as good as your science credentials.
    I.e. If you're not a scientist, you're a nobody.
  3. There's a hierarchy and it's based on discipline.
    Physicists are THE important people.Followed by Engineers, IT, other science. If you studied Management, you are either just a secretary, HR, Finance dept. and still never as smart as a physicist.
  4. As an Admin, I was always belittled. We could be having a discussion on politics, arts, culture, but a scientist always had the final word. Admins better know their place in the hierarchy.
  5. As a CERN employee you get diplomatic freedoms.
    You get a special ID that informs police and border patrols that they should let you go on your way. I never abused it, but man, as a person of color living in Europe, IT WAS LIBERATING. No more uncomfortable, profiling stops.
  6. The cafeteria could well be a Master Chef kitchen.
    Maybe it's an exaggeration, but the food was good and priced affordable. Ever had Lobster on Fridays at work ? Or metal leaf ( I never verified if it was gold leaf) desserts?
  7. The place is a Maze.
    When you walk into a building at ground level, you could be going through the 200 offices while the basement would be the 100s. And since there are a lot of annexes, the numbers change a lot.
  8. The main building is OLD.
    As in, no A/C in the summer or poor heating in the winter. We often worked with the windows closed during the heat to shut out the light and wore jackets in the winter months. Drilling the walls to install shelves was forbidden- too many contaminants.
  9. CERN straddles the Franco-Swiss border.
    We had our own border control.
  10. Special Events are organized mostly by volunteers.
    A small group of persons may be tasked to organize it, but volunteers run it. And their reward is being able to participate in it. That's not fair- I was invited to a champagne Aperò once but at CERN you have to "behave".
  11. Stereotypes Galore.
    Forget Intl. Management principles of leading an international team. Few will admit it, but everyone judges success, quality of teams and people by their nationalities. And then there's the Greek Mafia, the Italian Mafia, the British Mafia, the French and ze German- you get the point. No one really is PC.
  12. Americans can only work at CERN if they hold a European passport.
    There are many visiting American scientists at CERN, but officially they work for their home research lab. I got to work for CERN because I already held a Swiss permit.
  13. Scientists are experts at everything.
    Did I mention this already? There are development courses offered to them like website design, Marketing, etc. that run for a day or a couple of days. But my 2 degrees in marketing is still worth 0 to CERN Opinion because I'm not a scientist. I spent 4 semesters of survey writing for marketing but apparently 1 day course at CERN is better.
  14. It's cool to make friends!
    It's international and they come from all over Europe. So you can enjoy sangria with Spaniards, a cappuccino with veri Italiani, and beer with Norwegians at any given time. Just don't tell them you're in Management or else you go back to being belittled. My closer friends were Brit and then I usually high out after work with Spaniards and Portuguese.
  15. This beam is everywhere.
    Cool to find a GIF on here.
  16. If you meet the right people, they will treat you well.
    I was invited to help with the Organization of the Higgs-Boson/ god Particle announcement. I'm in the far right corner of the picture and got to witness in real time the ground breaking news.
  17. And got invited again to liaise with NASA Astronauts!
    I did a good job and was asked again to lead Captain Kelly, his team, and wife Rep. Gabby Giffords through a week long visit to CERN. Volunteering was the highlight of working at CERN. My boss didn't approve even though I was using up vacation days to volunteer and when My contract ended, I still had about a month left of vacation days to use.
  18. Tenure
    Everyone is after tenure. Some go great lengths to get it via unethical means, some stop trying after they get it. Tenure is the great equalizer at CERN.
  19. Per Diems
    Per Diems are adjusted to location you travel to, seniority, etc. But sometimes it's ridiculous how much you are allowed to spend on hotel, flight class, and food. Especially for an NGO. I really should have taken advantage of this and ordered more wine and beer on my Per Diems but I was sheepish and wanted to stay humble.
  20. French is the Default language.
    But really, English is the lingua Franca. Brits are the default Go-Tos for any communication. In informal cases it's amazing to see how many scientists with high profile positions write and speak at a mediocre level. Native English speakers are usually accepting of them, but make one mistake in a foreign language and you will never hear the end of it. Also, non-natives have a pass at being insulting, rude and aggressive in English.
  21. The DaVinci Code film got it all wrong.
    Not just the science part, but also the setting. There are no retina scanners and futuristic laboratories. It's really pretty rudimentary in most places.Like I mentioned earlier, it's old.
  22. Coffee
    There's always a reason to go for a coffee break. Coffee is also the great equalizer at CERN- save the discussions. My window looked over into the cafeteria and sometimes you'd see then same people hanging out all day drinking coffee with anyone that would stop. "Do they work?," I always asked myself.
  23. Scientists have weird schedules.
    It's not uncommon to see scientists get to work late and leave around midnight- as long as the research gets done I suppose.
  24. Not everyone gets to see the Large Hadron Collider.
    But when you do- it's love.
  25. Sheep.
    There are sheep on the surface level that have shown to be radiated. They are kept to check the radiation levels I heard.
  26. Entering the building through the side door is really easy.
    Like it's time to get guards because it's ridiculously easy. Please don't cite me on this.
  27. Most researchers cannot drink beer. Properly.
    Every weekend CERNites would meet with UN interns for drinks. CERNites were usually awkward and the UN interns were really just baby fools embarrassing themselves.
  28. Sex.
    I'm pretty sure there was a lot of hanky panky going on. It wasn't uncommon to find a pair of panties in the parking lot or condom wrappers in the more abandoned areas.
  29. Imagine the Big Bang Theory. Yep, it sometimes felt like you were talking to one of the characters.
    Once on the tram to work I heard 2 guys arguing with one deciding that he would beam a laser at the other to prove his point.